From Airbnb to the local rental agencies, what are your options?
By staff writer
Few travellers get beyond typing in “Airbnb Barcelona” to Google these days when searching for a short-term holiday rental, but in fact the City of Counts (as we like to call it), has dozens of local apartment operators in the city – many of whom actually have cheaper deals than you’ll find on the global portals. We share some recommended companies, and some tips on finding an affordable place to stay.
One of the biggest travel trends in recent years has been the rise in the popularity of apartments over hotels in terms of accommodation for breaks abroad. It makes a lot of sense really. Whilst there’s no taking away from the glitzy feeling one gets of checking into a posh hotel for the weekend, flirting with the cute receptionist and having the bellboy carry up your inconveniently heavy luggage to your penthouse suite, there are plenty of practical advantages for choosing apartments for your stay…
The most obvious advantage is that the prices tend to be on the friendlier side – after all their operators don’t have to pay huge overheads on rent, staff, electricity etc. in the same way hotels do. But people aren’t switching for economical reasons alone. Having your own flat in Barcelona is a way of making yourself feel right at home, a kind of short-term resident if you will, rather than a holiday-maker.
It’s this thrill that enthusiasts are addicted to – the chance to collect the keys and have their own flat for the weekend or longer, with all the amenities you might expect at home. Kitchen with fridge and cooking-facilities, bathroom with hot shower (maybe a jacuzzi – you never know!), plenty of space for stretching your legs, whilst many holiday rentals for example also come with huge satellite TVs, DVD players, iPod docks, Internet connection/WiFi – you name it! Best of all there’s no surly door staff giving you quizzical looks when you rock up back to your accommodation at 5am in the morning having rather-too-extensively sampled the nightlife, and no cleaner waking you up at the unreasonable time of 1pm, mop and bucket in hand… apartments equal total freedom, and even if you don’t get the VIP experience of luxury hotels they are a great additional option for any traveller to consider.
Barcelona Apartment Rental Agencies
Like most touristic cities, Barcelona is rife with short-term apartment rental firms and if you’ve decided to pluck for a ‘piso’ (that’s ‘flat’ to you), then you can either browse through our listings via the search facilities on our Sleep page, or read below for a list of all the main operators. Do have a browse and compare prices and we’re sure you’ll find yourself the perfect home for your stay.
With 400 top class apartments situated all around the city, you’re only a few clicks of the mouse away from your new pad… sadly though you will be asked to return the property at the end of your holiday.
AB Apartment Barcelona
Over 1,000 flats in locations all around the city, in sizes that range from studio to penthouse-style luxury, check out their range of options and prices before forking out for an overpriced hotel. As well as homes in every district of BCN, from Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter to the beach, they can also help you book a pad in Sitges, Girona and along the Costa Dorada.
Lucas Fox International Properties
This international property agent specialises in procuring prime real estate in Spain’s most glamorous locations, but they also offer short term rentals on luxury pads, villas and masias in Barcelona, Sitges and the Costa Brava.
The San Fran start up has run into more than its fair share of controversy in Barcelona as it enticed locals to put up their rooms and flats illegally for rent – the city regulates rentals and wasn’t amused – with some tourists being rudely awaken by the police. This provides a problem for travellers who have little way of knowing if their host has a license or not, and with the city continually increasing the number of inspectors one wonders if the problem will be solved, or it will be ongoing. If you’re wedded to the brand you’ll certainly find some cool places to stay, although until the picture is clearer it might be better going through a registered agency.
Our Advice on Searching for Holiday Rentals
1) Check several websites to get a feel for what is a good price… the agencies listed above are a great place to start!
2) Consider what type of holiday you want, and look for a flat in the according district. If you are searching for a beach break take a look in Poblenou, a former industrial district that now occupies prime real estate just minutes from some of Barcelona’s best city beaches. For sightseeing you don’t need to be right on the overcrowded Ramblas. Somewhere like El Borne or even the maligned Raval district (it’s really quite nice!) might suit you better. If you’re here to watch Barca play then search for somewhere near Les Corts, the home of Camp Nou. We suggest you check out our guide to all of BCN’s best barrios right here for more info and ideas on where to stay.
3) Consider if you have to collect the keys yourself (usually from the rental company’s office), or if someone will be there to meet you at the flat when you arrive. In both cases you’re looking for reliability, and the assurance that you can check in as soon as you arrive.
4) Check the cancellation policy and other terms of conditions of the booking, such as security deposits and cleaning fees. They are not usually dealbreakers but definitely good to know the exact terms of your rental before you book.
5) Make a note of the address before you leave to catch your plane! You don’t want to be struggling with your 3G internet access when you touch down at the airport. Speaking of which there’s some advice on planning your trip from the airport to town on this page.
So there you go, it’s plane sailing really. Although if you have any more tips or advice do please share them in the comments section below. Meanwhile, for an even more comprehensive list of accommodation options, head to our Sleep section where we review a full range of hotels, hostels, guest houses and all that funky pillow talk. Otherwise you’ll find plenty more handy tips and information by browsing through our site.