One of the fabulous things about the gorgeous Spanish city of Barcelona – aside from its alternative culture, spectacular architecture, and glorious beach (I could go on) – is that it makes for a fantastic budget destination. Particularly when you are based in the UK where budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet run cheap and cheerful flights from numerous airports throughout the year; and particularly when you are investigating getting out of town after the festive season has blown a massive hole in your bank balance. But it is possible to treat yourself to a bit of a luxe holiday in Barcelona on a budget?
I’ve already detailed a fun 24 hours in Barcelona as well as a Whistle-stop guide to Barcelona’s barrios just in case you’re not sure which part of the city might suit you… but in the spirit of planning for holidays ahead, I thought I might share with you a trip my friends and I shared last year where we decided we were there for a good time not a long time, and wanted to celebrate a bit of luxe living without breaking the bank. Goodbye hostels, hello high-rolling holiday without selling our firstborn children!
How to have a high-rolling holiday in Barcelona on a budget
1. Travel in a pack
Travelling in a group might be a pain in the bum to organise – collecting deposits from people with NO SENSE OF URGENCY is not a fun task let me tell you – but let’s face the facts… More people = bigger budget = awesome accommodation with your nearest and dearest.
We went for Air BnB because it pretty much rules in Barcelona (although there are numerous apartment rentals that are worth looking into), also it means you can stock up on coffee/snacks and have a cheap breakfast or lunch to cut costs.
Pooling money and sharing rooms meant we could get a bit of a palace for under £50 each per night. Sound a little steep? Well, when you take into consideration that our pad was all done up like it was about to be shown on Grand Designs with interior balconies, open plan social space and kitchen, outside area with seating, ensuite rooms and in a perfect central location just a short walk away from Las Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, it doesn’t sound too steep does it? Oh and I forgot to mention the housekeeping service and electric bikes that came along with the place. You could definitely get cheaper if you are going for a holiday in Barcelona on a budget – but we were in high-rolling mode #nolimits
2. Do brunch and cocktails at Bar Marmalade
Our favourite bar on this trip just so happened to be right around the corner. Bar Marmalade in El Raval may look like nothing from the outside (literally the entrance is hidden behind a tree) but its rich, opulent and ever so sexy on the inside. This is THE spot to go for brunch – beautiful food and super low prices – as well as quaff incredible cocktails that are cheaper than chips. I can honestly say I had the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had here (they put horse radish in and everything) – it was huge, delicious, strong and cost under a fiver. At Happy Hour the price went down to 3 euros. Mind blown.
3. Rent a VIP cabana at the W Hotel
The high-rolling highlight of the trip was treating ourselves to a day at the W Hotels VIP cabana. The hotel offers a selection of cabanas where a group can enjoy their own private space as well as access to the two pools and glorious views out over the bay.
But we decided to go the whole hog when we realised we could spend under £40 each (as a group) for a whole day’s rental of the E-Wow cabana. This bought us our own private area, roped off from the general public with big double sun loungers, table service from the bar, a mini fridge stocked with soft drinks, a lovely welcome platter of exotic fruit kebabs, a private jacuzzi and a speaker system to play our own music. Oh and we had our own bathroom/shower and changing room too as well as access to the gorgeous infinity pool. We had such a great time, I couldn’t recommend it enough.
4. Hang out at rooftop bars
Sipping a drink with an epic view is one way to feel like the King of the Castle. However, some of the rooftop bars of Barcelona come with a pretty hefty price tag – you won’t want to stay there drinking all night. However, for a view of the sunset over the Barcelona skyline and the whole city lit up by night, drop into Skybar when it opens for non-guests (sometimes between 8pm-9.30pm) or the B-Bar at the top of the B-Hotel – they are two of the better value options for a glass of wine or a beer.
5. Take a sunset sailing cruise
Barcelona is perched right on the edge of all that beautiful blue , so what better way to take advantage that to hop aboard one of the public boats that run sunset jazz cruises for under 20 euros. There’s a bar on board so just grab yourself a glass of bubbles and watch the sun set the sky alight as soothing tunes melt all your worries away. Bliss.
So, that’s how we did a high-rolling holiday in Barcelona on a budget. After a day of making it rain, we came back to earth with a bump and it was cheap bottles of cava on the beach for the rest of our trip. But hey, the memories were priceless.
Have you ever treated yourself to a bit of luxe living without spending as much as you thought you might have to? We’d love to know where…
Pics by Alex