Hotel Review: A Premium Room at the Renaissance Barcelona Fira
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To The Point
The Renaissance Barcelona Fira is a great base for a quick stay in this incredible city. The Pros: affordable rates, direct metro access, a rooftop pool and a full breakfast buffet just for elite members. The Cons: it’s not located in the heart of the tourist district and requires some navigation and transit time to get there.
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During a recent trip to the Visa pour L’Image Perpignan photography festival in France, I transited through Barcelona. And while I usually end up staying on a friend’s couch while checking out the sights of Barcelona, this time there were a lot of us in town, so I opted to grab a hotel for the last night before flying back to Los Angeles.
I found a last-minute room at the Renaissance Barcelona Fira, a Marriott Category 6 property requiring 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night for an award stay or a reasonable 115 euros (~$129) per night plus tax thanks to my AAA membership. At the time, I booked the hotel on Marriott.com with my Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, which allowed me to earn 5x Marriott Rewards points per dollar — using 30,000 Marriott Rewards points for a one-night stay would not have been a good use of points based on TPG’s monthly valuations at the time.
I booked a deluxe room with one king or two single beds on Marriott.com, but was eventually upgraded past the superior room to a premium room with a king bed, which usually costs about 42 euros (~$47) more per night with the AAA discount.
If I were to book this hotel today, however, I would use my Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express, which earns 2x SPG points per dollar at Marriott properties, transferring at 3x per point for a total of 6x Marriott Rewards Points per dollar spent at Marriott properties, with no foreign-transaction fees (See Rates & Fees).
One of the main reasons I picked this property was because of its direct access to Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN) via the metro. The hotel is located in a business district, which may not be ideal for some beach-focused travelers, but with an affordable rate, ready access to the subway and proximity to the airport, it was exactly what I wanted.
Shortly after booking my room, I received notification via the Marriott mobile app that my room was ready for early check-in. I left my friend’s apartment in the Barceloneta beachside neighborhood and made my way to the hotel via the metro. I would recommend buying a T10 ticket, which is good for 10 rides. Transfers to and from the airport are a little extra, though, at a cost of 4.50 euros (~$5) — you can see the different options, including multi-day passes, on the Barcelona Metro website. Upon exiting the station, it was a very short walk to the hotel.
At check-in, the staff were friendly, noting how I had just made the reservation that same day, welcoming me to the hotel and informing me that I had been upgraded to a premium room on the 19th floor with a king-size bed. Since the hotel does not have an executive lounge, I was offered breakfast for two at its Palmer Restaurant or 750 Marriott Rewards points. I opted for the breakfast this time.
After riding up the elevators, I noticed the clean design of all the room doors, which were almost hidden in the black walls. I was struck by the futuristic design of this property — it felt like a hanging vertical garden of sorts around the elevator bays and staircases, a modern fusion of metal and nature. In fact, the 2012 property was designed by award-winning French architect Jean Nouvel.
I dropped off my luggage and immediately made my way to the rooftop bar to check out the views. Pool towels were also provided on the roof, with various seating areas and loungers to soak in some sun among the palm trees.
I went for a quick swim and decided to have a drink on the roof before meeting friends back at the beach.
I saw another guest order a glass of sangria that looked truly Instagram-worthy, so I opted for that as a refreshment during my swim. The bar staff also provided complimentary snack mix. Since this was a Renaissance property, I earned 10 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent for all charges billed to my room, plus some additional points from the Visa spending.
Back downstairs, I took more time to check out my hotel room. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find a room that was entirely white — I later learned that there are also rooms here that are entirely black, which are apparently even more difficult for the staff to keep clean.
I found the bed to be very firm — almost too firm for my liking — but I did have a good night’s sleep. It is worth noting for a destination like Barcelona that I did not find any rude, drunk or obnoxious guests at this property. There were no late-night commotions or party sounds to interrupt my sleep in the middle of the night. This is what I would expect from a hotel in the business part of town, but worth noting nonetheless, since some tourists in Barcelona still tend to get a bit rowdy.
The bathroom area was well-appointed with modern conveniences, keeping in the style of sleek, clean surfaces.
The air conditioning was welcome in the final days of summer. A movable curtain could be used to separate the bed area from the couch and desk space, but I promptly pushed that back to open up the room. Curtains to block out the light were controlled by bedside switches.
Here’s what the view was like from my very unique artsy window, a signature piece of this hotel:
The one thing about the bathroom I did not like, however, was the toilet. I felt like I must have been in some sort of spaceship. If you are claustrophobic, you might want to find a way to keep the bathroom door open — it shuts automatically, leaving you trapped on the toilet in a white box.
The toilet was housed in its own sort of closet-sized space. I would open the door and walk in, and the door would close behind me and would not stay propped open. I’d recommend bringing along a doorstop if you’re not a fan of small spaces. That said, there was something a bit pleasantly isolating about the arrangement. It was just a little unexpected.
An assortment of TokyoMilk soaps and lotions by Margot Elena featured interesting designs on the boxes and bottles.
Other little details like two bottles of water were also welcome.
The shower and bathtub area featured a shared translucent wall with the bed. I could see how this might be an issue for people traveling together who are not familiar with one another. I was traveling solo, though, so this wasn’t a big deal.
A packet of bath minerals was also a nice touch.
The room featured a light display with silhouettes like light shining through the fronds of a tropical tree, but I turned it off because the hum of the motor was a bit noisy.
The mini-fridge came in handy for my keeping water bottles nice and cool.
A hair dryer was located beneath the sink, as was a trash can that tucked itself away.
Inside the closet, I found a bathrobe and slippers, which (as always) were too small for my feet — I’m a US size 13/14.
Inside another closet were a tea kettle and a safe. I found no issues with the Wi-Fi speeds. The download speed when I tested was 23.34 Mbps, while the upload speed was 34.51 Mbps. I got a ping of 11 microseconds.
After checking out of the room, I was able to use the metro to go down to the beach that afternoon and later on, to nightclubs, making the most of my T10 metro and bus pass. Since this was mid-week, the metro did not run late — it shuts down at midnight on weeknights so plan accordingly — and I opted to take a taxi home from Barceloneta for a reasonable 17 euros (~$19). The driver did not have any trouble finding the hotel. Taxis are normally queued up outside the hotel for travelers who prefer a more direct transit option.
Food and Beverage
In the morning, I went down to have breakfast in the Palmer Restaurant, where I was greeted warmly by a staff member with a juice smoothie and seated without delay. The buffet included an omelet chef, a wide assortment of breads, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurts, sliced meats, baked beans, meats, juices, coffee and cava.
I was pleasantly surprised that everything offered at the breakfast buffet was included without any surcharges — sometimes “complimentary” continental breakfasts can mean there’s an extra charge for hot items, but this was not the case here.
I enjoyed a glass of cava with my breakfast while looking out at the gardens.
The breakfast was free with my Marriott Gold status, which can also be linked from Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, which is conferred to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Though there was a large selection of pastries and breads, I opted for an omelet with bacon on the side.
After breakfast, I went back up to the rooftop to enjoy the view a little more before checking out and walking to the train.
At check-out, my Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card was inserted to the front desk’s chip reader and billed for the stay, unlike at US hotels, where it would normally just be charged to the card on file. I did, however, have to retroactively ask Chase to credit the 5x points because the international charge did not register as being from a Marriott property. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had that happen while staying at Marriott properties in Spain. To get the points retroactively, I used the Chase secure message center online to request my points. When I had tried calling, I’d only encountered confused customer service reps passing the blame between Marriott and Chase, and the message online was the way to go, believe it or not.
After I checked out, I walked outside and down to the Europa–Fira station along the L9 metro line and was whisked to the airport in about 10 stops, or roughly 25 minutes. I had one more trip left on my T10 metro card to enter the station, but had to pay the extra 4.50 euro (~$5) fee in order to exit upon arriving at the airport at Terminal 1.
Ultimately, my night at Renaissance Barcelona Fira was great, with rates more affordable than most hotels in the tourist districts, a rooftop pool and a lovely breakfast spread that was complimentary for elite members like me. I would definitely return here, especially if I had to catch an early flight out the next morning.
Have you ever stayed at the Renaissance Barcelona Fira? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
For rates and fees of the Starwood Preferred Guest Card, please click here.
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