I found a wonderful, reasonably priced hotel in Barcelona, owned and operated by some hardworking and gracious hoteliers. I stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacete, situated in a 19th century building on the edge of the upscale Eixample neighborhood. It’s just a few blocks beyond the northern edge of Barcelona’s pedestrian La Rambla and the bustling Plaça de Catalunya, and just around the corner from Antoni Gaudí’s famous Modernisme-styled Casa Batlló.
The Hotel Continental Palacete is a superior 3-star accommodation in an old mansion – in my opinion, far beyond that rating – that made me feel like I was in fact staying in a mansion. I was particularly impressed with the dining/lounge parlor lavishly refurbished in what might be 17th century French architectural style reminiscent of Versailles, with gilded stucco and a monstrous chandelier.
“When we bought this building, everything was in ruins,” says Señora María Pilar Vallet, who with her son Jose Malagarriga Vallet own both the Palacete and the Hotel Continental Barcelona, a similar property located a few blocks away on the northernmost stretch of La Rambla. “I liked the architect’s design very much and decided that I would do the same and reconstruct it in the original design.”
“The main lounge was built by artisans who came from France, and my mother found the original papers,” says Jose.
The Hotel Palacete was one of the hotels listed in Rick Steves’ Barcelona guidebook, and after taking a look at reviews on tripadvisor.com, decided to book it for my weeklong stay during Thanksgiving. I was particularly impressed because the Palacete’s staff responds to every review on TripAdvisor, whether the guests like the hotel or not. I found that quite appealing, as Señora Pilar and Jose hail from a family which has been in the hotel business since 1826.
Another great selling point for me was the hotel offers a 24-hour complimentary tapas bar with everything from fresh fruits and cereals to ham, cheeses, cold vegetables, pastas and pastries. There’s even wine and beer on tap. Around dinner time, Señora Pilar often cooks the food herself – hot pastas, egg dishes, rich tomato sauces and sautéed vegetables. “Cooking is my favorite pastime,” she says. When coming back from a long day of sightseeing and research, it was great to have the option of just eating in house before retiring for the evening. And when hunger struck in the middle of night, the tapas bar was there – like raiding the refrigerator at home!
The Hotel Palacete has only 19 rooms – mostly small, but pleasantly draped with flowery wallpaper. My room didn’t have a view (but it did have a small patio), but for rooms with balconies overlooking the often boisterous La Rambla, check out the Hotel Continental Barcelona. Also a 3-star property, this hotel has 35 rooms and a similar 24-hour free tapas bar for guests.
“I am very proud of the people who work with us because when I read the reviews on TripAdvisor or other websites,” says Jose, “overall even when people aren’t happy with the hotel, they’re happy with the service and for me this is very important.”
PLEASE NOTE: I did not receive any special or reduced hotel rate for writing this or because I’m a travel writer (other than the 5% discount offered when mentioning Rick Steves’ guidebook). In fact, I booked my stay online. I certainly recommend taking a look at these hotels if planning a trip to Barcelona – great locations, clean rooms, reasonable rates, complimentary 24-hour tapas, and very friendly and helpful staff and owners.
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