Before moving to Barcelona for good, and during the two weeks before finding an apartment, James Roberts stayed in three different central Barcelona hostels. Today, James shares with A Spanish Perspective his personal opinion on these 3 central Barcelona hostels. A Spanish Perspective would like to thank James for his input and for his enthusiasm in sharing with all of us his recent experience in 3 of the most well-known and centrally located Barcelona hostels.
Hostel Urbany BCN GO
I was on a tight budget when I first visited the city last November, so was pleased to find a bed for 7€ per night at Urbany BCN GO (Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 563). I arrived into Sants Estacio on the bus from Santander at 6.30am, realising at that moment that I’d naively forgotten to see if there was 24hr check-in. Unfortunately I was was out of luck, check in at BCN GO is from 2pm – a fair bit later than the usua10am-12pm, and a bit of a problem if you arrive early in the morning, but the staff on duty were happy to let me leave my bag there. I went to get breakfast and then headed to the beach whilst it was still quiet.
The dormitory I stayed in was generally very clean, but the bathrooms got a bit treacherous, with the showers on the same level as the rest of the room. My bed had a light and a plug/usb socket next to it, and the card-locked draw underneath was convenient for keeping valuables. The lower beds all had curtains to pull across for privacy. With 24 beds in the kind of space you’d expect to find 12 there wasn’t room to swing a cat, but it did the job as somewhere to sleep comfortably and get dressed.
You’re not left wanting in terms of facilities. There’s computers, a bar where you can buy breakfast, an equipped, decent sized kitchen and eating area and a screen to put films on, even a terrace with a comfy swinging chair and a Jacuzzi that gets switched on in the evening. When I was there the staff were very helpful and friendly and the hostel organised activities every evening. The free wi-fi was a bit of an annoyance – you have to constantly subscribe to marketing, or agree to using you Facebook to advertise the hostel – something that I found annoying and a bit on the cheeky side. Another drawback is that none of the hostel gets much natural light – and with the faux-neon green lighting in the corridors, this got a bit much after a while.
The hostel is busy and lively most of the time, so its great if you´re coming to Barcelona for a short trip or a party weekend, or if your skint. I wouldn’t recommend it if your arriving here to set yourself up with a job, not much chance of peace and quiet! Overall a good cheap place to stay.
Mediterranean Youth Hostel
When I came back to Barcelona, on my way to England for Christmas, I was knackered. It was my first break in in ages and it felt like the previous three months had concertinaed into me. As such I didn’t fancy the party atmosphere of the last place I’d stayed last time and went for the plainly named Mediterranean Youth Hostel (Carrer de la Diputació, 335) where I paid 9€ per night. Mindful of not wanting to wander the streets until check-in time again, I´d looked for somewhere with ´24hr reception´, however, as I found out, this isn´t the same as 24hr check-in. Nonetheless the person behind the desk was friendly and as well as allowing me to store my bag he said I was welcome to stay in the common area until 12pm. Said common space had several sofas, a big screen and a number of computers with internet access. Finding the room empty I lay down and promptly fell asleep until just before check in.
The dormitory at this hostel was much bigger than the last one, with conventional bunks rather than the self-contained units I found at BCN GO. Other than that, everything was as expected – a set of lockers at the end of bed, operated with a 50 cent coin each time you unlock it. A little less swish than card operated drawers, but much more practical. Whilst small dorms don´t bother me, having more space did make for a comfortable stay and a better night´s sleep.
The facilities are great, there´s a sizable kitchen and eating area as well as a small terrace, and the bathrooms were cleaner and less slippery than at BCN GO. As to be expected with most hostels, there are plenty of organised or recommended activities on offer. Also the free wi-fi is a much more honest offer than at BCN GO. Here you simply log on to the wi-fi, without having to subscribe or post adverts. As with BCN GO, one of the only downsides is that nowhere in the building gets much exterior light,
I was only at the Mediterranean Youth Hostel for two nights, but it struck me as the sort of place that would be pleasant to stay in if you´re planning to be in Barcelona for a longer holiday, or if you´re looking for somewhere to stay whilst you find an apartment or a job. It didn´t feel as endlessly busy as BCN GO, and in the common and eating areas there is plenty of space to work on a computer. That said, I was there about three days before Christmas, so there may have just been a festive lull.
The Hipstel Hostel
I checked into The Hipstel (Carrer de Valencia 266) having moved to Barcelona at the beginning of January. The name made pushed me away a little bit, but it was 6€ a night so I just clicked ´book´.
The hostel´s in a beautiful modernist building with wide corridors and high ceilings, and the breakfast and common area have a set of big windows that keep it nice and light all day – a welcome change to the dimness of the previous two places. Whilst staying here I was spending a lot of time applying for jobs and looking for apartments and it was a very pleasant place to sit and work. I stayed here for longer than either BCN GO or Mediterranean Youth Hostel, so I also got to know some of the staff a bit better – they were all very welcoming and happy to show guests different places in the city. In general it had a bit more atmosphere about it than the other places, and I felt more inclined to stay up talking to people and enjoying the common space.
The bathrooms were very clean, and the dormitory was much the same as at Mediterranean Youth Hostel – clean and spacious with practical lockers and plug sockets and lights next to each bunk. However, one big downside is that guests are not allowed to use the kitchen. I was told that this was down to complaints from other people in the building about smells generated by cooking, but this didn´t fly, as every evening a chef comes in to make dinner, which you can buy for 5€ and as such, it felt like this rule had more to do with making money than anything else. One of the main reasons I, and I think most travelers, choose hostels over hotels is so I can cook my own meals, so I wasn´t very impressed at being unable to do this. There was also the same issue with the internet as at BCN GO – and if you wanted to use the hostels computers for the internet the charge for use was 1€ for less than half an hours use, very expensive when you consider most internet cafes in the city charge around 25-50 cents for half an hours internet use.
On the whole The Hipstel was a really nice place to stay, but its worth noting that it becomes considerably more expensive at weekends. My stay here was comfortable, and met my need to find a quiet place to work. I´d also recommend it if you´re looking for a sociable hostel and the opportunity to meet people to go and party with.
None of these central Barcelona hostels had any major faults, and they all served their basic purpose. If I had to rank them it would be Mediterranean Youth Hostel at Number 1, The Hipstel at Number 2 and BCN GO at number three. Basically, all 3 hostels are strategically well located right in the city center, in the best neighborhoods as well.
I hope you find my review of some use I you´re planning on visiting the city!
Article by James Roberts. Poet, photographer & reviewer.