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TPG Madrid-based International Correspondent Lori Zaino recently celebrated her birthday in Barcelona. She stayed at the famed W Barcelona overlooking Barceloneta beach. Here’s her review.
Vibrant Gaudi architecture, sun rays glazing the Mediterranean and exquisite tapas all come to mind when thinking of Barcelona. When a friend of mine suggested we spend a few days there for my birthday, I immediately agreed and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to finally stay at the W Barcelona.
I’ve eyed the property for years, but always stayed elsewhere in favor of Airbnb rentals or cute boutique hotels in the mysterious El Raval and El Born districts. Wanting to enjoy what was most likely the last of the summer sunshine and warm temps in early October, I thought it was the perfect time to try out the beachfront W Barcelona.
Check-In and First Impressions
As we drove up to the iconic sail-shaped building, designed by renowned architect Ricardo Bofill, I was confronted with how large the hotel really is. At 473 rooms and suites, the all glass exterior jutting towards the ocean glistens under the sun and stands out on the horizon. Upon entering, the lobby gives off a fun and funky vibe. Next to the check-in area, the Wave Restaurant and Lounge was always bustling and from there, you have access to the pool and beach.
The staff was friendly at check-in and informed me as per my SPG Platinum benefits, I’d be upgraded from a Cozy room to a Fabulous Room, which boasted breathtaking views of the sea and the city. I also chose breakfast as my Platinum amenity, which ended up being a good choice as the buffet spread was impressive.
I took the elevator to the 24th floor to get to my room. The hallways are bright red, both the walls and carpet, which I found… interesting. As I walked into my room, I immediately noticed the immense amount of natural daylight streaming in through the almost floor-to-ceiling windows. Once my eyes adjusted, I got my first glimpse of the an incredible panoramic view of the entire city and coastline of Barcelona. Once I’d “oohed and ahhed” sufficiently, I looked around the rest of the room.
The king-sized bed is pretty magical, as you can lay down and stare straight out the window to see the amazing views. Situated, behind the bed is a workspace with a desk and chair.
There’s a TV in the corner and a seating area in front of the window. A small end table offers some alcoholic beverages for purchase. The room is large, modern and chic. Relaxing on the couch by the window overlooking Barcelona with a cocktail in hand was wonderful. In fact, the first night I arrived, around 9:30 p.m. we even saw fireworks. The seating area from my room was probably the best spot in the city to see them from!
You can open the drapes from a switch beside your bed, which quickly became my favorite morning activity. Wake up, press the button and the drapes slowly open, revealing sunny blue skies and a gorgeous view. The panel also offered a plethora of lighting options, which were relatively confusing and I didn’t seem to master them during my three-night stay.
Close to the door, there is a small foyer with a mirror, and a closet. I was actually surprised at the amount of closet space–large for Europe. A safe and ironing board are located in there, too.
The modern and spacious bathroom features a sink and mirror, as well as a rainfall shower and toilet separated by glass doors.
The Pool & Beach
I was thrilled to enjoy the tail end of summer at the W’s beach and pool. I’ve been to Barcelona four or five times before and have seen all the major sights, so I decided to enjoy at least one day during this trip simply relaxing in the sun. The W Barcelona is the only hotel in the city that has its own direct beach access, and I was determined to take advantage of that.
We started our morning at the W Beach (as the pool was still covered in shade and the beach was sunny). We grabbed two front row chairs as tanned employees dressed in white rushed over to help us adjust our chairs and offer us menus. We promptly ordered iced coffees. The scene was calm, though the people next to us seemed perturbed that the private W Beach was right next to the “civilian beach area” where (in typical Spanish fashion) many prefer sunbathing nude (yes, nude!). I personally wouldn’t have even noticed this, had our neighbors not been fussing about it, but if this is the type of thing that might bother you, you might prefer spending your day at the pool.
After awhile, we noticed the pool area was getting sun, so we opted for a change of scenery and headed to the pool. And my, what a scene it was! I couldn’t help but ogle over the oodles of well-dressed, fit people I was surrounded by. The pool is definitely a scene for young, good-looking locals and tourists.
My friend and I indulged in a pitcher of cava sangria and a quesadilla at the pool, both of which were delicious.
I selected breakfast as my Platinum amenity, and I was happy to find out that it was a large breakfast buffet miles away from the “continental breakfast” I was given as my amenity a month ago at the W Times Square. The breakfast buffet is located in the Wave Restaurant near the lobby and the spread was massive with a selection of hot items like eggs and bacon, a salad bar, pastries and even a section for Iberian hams and cheeses. A large selection of fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee and tea were also available. They normally charge 32 Euros ($40 USD) per person for the buffet, so the complimentary amenity was a great value.
The Gym & Other Amenities
After a day at the pool (and after consuming half a pitcher of cava sangria), my friend convinced me to hit up the W SWEAT workout center. I was quite proud of myself that I managed to get to the gym during my vacation (a rare occurrence), and unlike most other sangria-inspired decisions, this one actually ended up being a good one. The gym was absolutely enormous. With several machines, a separte weight room, a sitting area, and another room with mats and balls for sit-ups, it was the largest, most well-equipped hotel gym I’ve ever seen.
The hotel also features a Bliss Spa, the W boutique (which they were renovating during my stay), other restaurants including Bravo 24 and Salt, and the nightclub Eclipse on the 26th floor.
Prices and Overall Impression
The room cost 225 Euros per night ($287) or 20,000 Starpoints and is an SPG Category 6 hotel. I chose to pay for the room using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, as well as throughout the trip to avoid foreign transaction fees and get double points on dining and travel expenses. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is another card option if you’re an avid Starwood guest.
Really, the only negatives I found during my stay was that the glass bathroom doors didn’t close well, making for a lack of privacy. If you have a room on a higher floor, you might hear the bass from the Eclipse 26th floor nightclub well into the wee hours of the morning, which I noticed, but was easily able to sleep through.
Overall, I loved this hotel–it’s sexy, chic and glam, and I would definitely stay here again in the future. I recommend coming when the weather is nice enough to enjoy the beach and pool, which is typically from May to October. The hotel is geared more towards adult travelers, couples and friends traveling together.
Have you ever stayed at this property? Where do you prefer to stay in Barcelona? Share your thoughts and comments below.
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