For years and years we had promised to take my mum on a trip to Barcelona and this year my sister and I finally put this plan into motion. We all booked our flights early summer and I decided to take full responsibility in finding us a place to stay. We didn’t have confirmed numbers up until the last minute, because of work commitments so I left the accommodation hunt till the last few weeks before we went.
Everyone I knew who had been to Barcelona had stayed in apartments anyway, I assumed it would be pretty easy to sort this out.
Because the trip was specially planned for my mum, who suffers from what can be quite severe back/leg pain, whatever place we decided on had to be suitable for her. I made a list of necessary requirements: lift or ground floor, clean, in the city and air conditioning (to help mum get a good nights sleep on hot summers night).
The first thing I noticed, was although a lot of my friends had stayed in apartments, not a lot of them recommended the specific ones they stayed in!?!
When you google ‘Barcelona city centre apartments’ there are a number of comparison sites that come up and one by one I went through them to find the perfect place to stay. When I found apartments that I liked I was conscious that we were dealing with landlords rather than a hotel and as most apartments were on the first floor I wanted to receive confirmation that the advertised lift, was a functioning lift (we’ve been stung by this before).
I sent out brief emails stating I was interested in booking ASAP but just wanted confirmation on the lift situation etc. No reply. I found a number of apartments on Trip advisor and emailed them. No reply. I even found a site that guaranteed a response within 24hours. Four days later, no reply.
I got really irritated with the whole process and was about to resort back to the hotel option when I stumbled upon a website called oh-Barcelona.com (aka GoWithOh). I have no idea how I found it, but I am so glad I did.
When I first started looking on the site and looking at the apartments I assumed they would be overpriced. Sure enough it was coming up more expensive than the others I had seen, but only marginally more. I emailed with my question and got a reply straight away. Sods law, I also received replies from some of the other apartments I had enquired about. However, these replies weren’t solely to confirm the lift situation, every other email had added on that because there were five of us staying in the apartment the price would have additional charges.
I know I’ve taken the long road to explain this, but my first tip when booking an apartment is do not assume that the price advertised is for a three bedroom family apartment, sometimes this is not the final price! Make sure you ask for a figure once you have confirmed the number of people that will be staying.
After all the hassle I bit the bullet and booked the oh-Barcelona apartment. My decision was purely based on the fact that the website had replied within 24 hours and the price advertised had no hidden costs, everything was laid bare on the description. Oh and the place did look pretty good.
Once my booking was completed, I received a full confirmation email giving the address, contact details and advised to contact the landlord direct if there was any special requests. Which I did, to explain that our flight was going to land very late at night so we would require a check in after 11pm (I also asked if he could leave us an iron). Again the landlord David got back in touch swiftly and assured us he would have everything arranged.
The night we set off for Barcelona, our flight was delayed. It was nearly midnight by the time our taxi arrived at the flat. There was no one outside and I was panicking from the inside. My number one fear booking an apartment rather than a hotel was not having anyone there to receive us so late at night and all five of us would have to traipse around the city to find somewhere to stay when we were hungry and tired. I called Davids phone… no answer. Heart started to sink as I knew everyone was relying on me. BUT he called me back within minutes and told me to buzz the flat (WHY I didn’t do that in the first place is beyond me) and that his brother was inside.
We were greeted by a friendly face when the door opened and given a tour of the flat to check everything was ok. It was perfect. Everybody loved it. The apartment looked exactly like its online photos.
I won’t put you through my usual walk through, because it really looks exactly like it was advertised. All the rooms were super clean, even the bathroom and kitchen were so much better than my expectations. There was a bathroom and a separate shower room at the other end of the apartment.
The kitchen had a dishwasher and all the basics, even a selection of oils and sauces which was handy. The flat was not too big and not too small and the piece de resistance… a dining room window that provided a snapshot of the great Sagrada Familia. The flat also has wifi connection, a selection of voucher books and tourist leaflets which was a real help for us during our stay. As I sorted out the remainder of the payment I could hear the others walking round and round the apartment gushing about how great, how posh, how modern it was. Boy was I glad I found that website!
Location wise, we really couldn’t complain. Right next door to us there was a small food store, this became our everyday stop off for fresh fruit and veg and we quickly made friends with the owners. Not even a five minute walk away was a bakery café, pizza place and a number of other cafes and shops which we visited over the course of our stay for things like souvenirs, breakfast, tea breaks etc.
The Sagrada Familia was literally round the corner and the metro stop was right there in front of it. We never had any problems getting around and as we were travelling as a group it was comforting to know that if we ever got separated it was easy for all of us to remember where we stayed and be confident that every cab driver would know it too.
GoWithOh.com is one of the best booking sites I have used. I like the little touches they include, such as emails before the trip recommending things to do, links to more vouchers and information emails in case we needed anything. They sent enough to keep me excited about going, but not too many to make it spammy.
I cannot recommend this apartment enough it was a great place and we were comfortable throughout our trip there. All I wanted was to be able to book a place that my mum would enjoy and be able to relax in that had a touch of luxury to it and Carrera de Valencia had the perfect solution, at an affordable price.