Barcelona has a wide range of sleeping options, from inexpensive hostels hidden in the old quarter to luxury hotels overlooking the waterfront. The small-scale B&B-style apartment rentals scattered around the city are a good-value choice.

Wherever you stay, it’s wise to book ahead. If you plan to travel around holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Easter, or in summer, reserve a room a few months ahead of time.

Hotels

Hotels cover a broad range. At the bottom end there is often little to distinguish them from better pensiones, and from there they run up the scale to five-star luxury. Some of the better features to look out for include rooftop pools and lounges; views (either of the sea or a cityscape); and of course proximity to the important sights.

For around €100 to €160 there are extensive options for good doubles across a wide range of hotels and areas. The top-end category starts at €250 for a double, and can easily rise to €500 (and beyond for suites).

Pensiones & Hostels

Depending on the season you can pay as little as €11 to €25 for a dorm bed in a youth hostel. If dorm living is not your thing, but you are still looking for a budget deal, check around the many pensiones (also known as hostales) family-run, small-scale hotels, often housed in sprawling apartments. Some are fleapits, others immaculately maintained gems.

You're looking at a minimum of around €25/55 for basic individual/doble (single/double) rooms, mostly with shared bathrooms. It is sometimes possible to find cheaper rooms, but they may be unappealing.

Some places, especially at the lower end, offer triples and quads, which can be good value for groups. If you want a double bed (as opposed to two singles), ask for a llit/cama matrimonial (Catalan/Spanish). If your budget is especially tight, look at options outside the centre.

Apartment Rentals

A cosier (and sometimes more cost-effective) alternative to hotels is short-term apartment rental. Many firms organise short lets across town – try Oh-Barcelona (www.oh-barcelona.com) and Barcelona 30 (www.barcelona30.com) – and, of course, Airbnb is a big player. Lets away from the Ciutat Vella can be a good way to get to know buzzy residential areas like Poblenou or Poble Sec. Typical prices start around €80 to €100 for two people per night, but soar on upwards for more upscale apartments. For four people you might be looking at an average of €160 a night. Bargains are sometimes available, but be aware that these are often in less salubrious areas. Many old town apartments won't have lifts or washing machines.

Airbnb and apartment rental agencies have been accused of contributing to Barcelona's overtourism problem and driving prices up for local people. Before booking your apartment, check whether it's licensed at www.fairtourism.barcelona.

Travellers with Disabilities

Many hotels claim to be equipped for guests with disabilities but the reality frequently disappoints, although the situation is improving, particularly at the midrange and high-end levels. Check out www.barcelona-access.cat for further information.

Seasonal Rates

Most hotel rates vary over high, mid and low seasons. Low season is roughly November to Easter, except during the Christmas and New Year period. Whenever there is a major trade fair (they are frequent, but the Mobile World Congress in February/March causes the most problems), high-season prices generally apply. Conversely, business-oriented hotels often consider weekends, holiday periods and other slow business times to be low season.

Need to Know

Room Tax

  • Virtually all accommodation is subject to IVA, a 10% value-added tax.
  • There's also an additional tax of between €0.72 and €2.48 per person per night, depending on the accommodation's level of luxury.
  • These charges are usually included in the quoted rate.

Reservations

  • Booking ahead is all but essential, especially during peak periods such as Easter, Christmas and New Year, trade fairs and throughout much of summer (although August can be quite a slack month owing to the heat and lack of business visitors).
  • If you arrive without pre-booked lodging, the Plaça de Catalunya tourist office can help, or you might get lucky on a site like Oh-Barcelona (www.oh-barcelona.com).

Checking In & Out

  • Check-in is around 2pm or 3pm. If arriving earlier, you can usually leave your luggage at reception.
  • Always reconfirm if arriving late in the evening.
  • Check-out is generally noon.