Nestled between two more sedate brick buildings, urbanista boutique stay Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel is for the effortlessly hip creative crowd. The bright and modern rooms have a slightly industrial edge, and the poolside rooftop bar is the stuff nights under the city stars are made of.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Guests arriving early or leaving late can store their luggage.
Double rooms from £93.50 (€109), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.13 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually exclude breakfast (€19 an adult and €15 for under-12s). Wine o'clock (free wine and cheese) is held in the lobby during the evenings.
Ask in advance to borrow the hotel’s Finna bikes, and enjoy a cycle around the city.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, swimming pool, and small fitness centre. In rooms: TV, minifridge with free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Our favourite rooms
All rooms have light charcoal walls, mustard-coloured bedding, handcrafted wooden chairs and cupboards, and hanging filament bulbs scattered throughout. The Yurbban Double with Terrace has a bird’s-eye view of the neighbourhood from its wooden-decked outside lounge space; the deckchairs are perfect for curling up to read, enjoying the sunshine, or surveying the city skyline.
The rooftop pool-with-a-view is on the eighth-floor terrace, which gives it a considerable vantage point over other Barcelona buildings. Glass panels line the edge of the terrace, so the panoramic city views are totally uninterrupted. The petite pool is surrounded by double-bed-sized white leather sun loungers, and the pale grey wood terrace has additional seating areas for drinks and tapas.
Bring classically chic swimsuits for sunning yourself by the rooftop pool and stylishly sturdy sandals for exploring the city.
The hotel has two fully-accessible guest rooms.
Children of all ages are welcome, but the hotel is best suited to over-13s. Extra beds are €25 a night, and baby cots can be provided for free.
For the best view, try to snag the corner table on the rooftop: it’s tucked away behind the pool, and just out of sight as you climb the stairs. Indoors, there’s a large wooden table for groups, and romantic bar seating too.
Don your casually cool holiday gear here during the day.
Breakfast includes pa amb tomàquet (rustic bread toasted and rubbed with tomato), a selection of cheese and cold cuts of botifarra sausages, made-to-order omelettes, refreshing juices (try an ‘energizing’ or ‘hangover-cure’ juice, as needed) and perk-you-up coffees. Don’t miss the pain au chocolat, served Catalan style with olive oil and sea salt.
The main bar area is part of the restaurant. In the warmer months, the poolside rootop bar is open, too, with its panoramic views of Barcelona and quite the cocktail menu. Cool off with a something ice-cold and minty in the mid-day sun, or share a bottle of local wine under the twinkling city skyline at night.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 11am.
There’s no room service, but you can bring breakfast up to your private terrace and there’s an in-room minifridge and that you can stock with goodies from the downstairs minimarket for when late night hunger strikes.
The hotel is about 15 minutes’ walk from the Passeig de Gràcia, in an area once devoted to all things clothing. Hidden walkways between the hotel and other buildings are brimming with coffee shops and tapas bars.
Barcelona Airport is 25 minutes away by car; arrange a private transfer with the hotel or taxis generally cost around €35 each way. You can also take the Aerobus to Plaça de Catalunya, which is 600 metres from the hotel; tickets cost €5.95. Girona Airport, 75 minutes away by car, is the next closest airport; private transfers are available.
Sants Station is 20 minutes away by car.
On-site parking is available for €18 a day, but we think the hustle and bustle of Barcelona is best enjoyed when not behind a steering wheel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Shopping opportunites abound on nearby Passeig de Gràcia: pick up quirkily patterned shirts and dresses at Brava and squee-worthy duds for little Smiths at Picnik. If you’re more in the mood for food-based browsing, head to traditional food market La Boqueria. There’s no shortage of Gaudí-sights to see, especially if it’s your first time in the city: La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell and Casa Batlló should definitely be on your to-visit list. When you’ve exhausted your limbs walking around the city, turn to Aire de Barcelona Spa for a pampering hammam treatment.
Relax with a stroll around city-central botanical spot Jardins de Mossen Costa i Llobera at the sea-facing foot of Montjuïc and marvel at the strange greenery, including rare cacti and palm trees.
In the Catalan capital, the diminutive king of dining is undeniably the tapas plate. To get our fill, we like brick-walled and wood-beamed Llamber Restaurant, which serves them with a modern twist. At theatrical tapas bar Tickets(164 Avinguda del Paral·lel), dishes are served with drama, flair and a touch of whimsy. For an international angle, look to the dishes at Elsa y Fred (11 Carrer del Rec Comtal), which include salmon sashimi, and tiny, seven-tabled Bar Casa Xica: its owners are keen travellers to London and Japan and have created an Asian-Catalan cuisine hybrid. Casa Lolea (49 Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt) pours vermouth with their tapas, and standing-room-only Quimet y Quimet (25 Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes) is worth the queue.
For a wow-factor date night, make time for the 14- or 21-course tasting menu at ABaC Restaurant & Hotel, which includes Iberian suckling pig paired with mango tatin and bamboo-steamed foie gras.
Stop by specialty roasters Nomad Coffee for a silky smooth pick-me-up; you can buy a bag of beans to take home with you, too.
Hidden away on a narrow street near Palau de la Música, the Antic Teatre Espai de Creació is a creative space used as a watering-hole for many locals; it also hosts a range of shows, including music and dance performances and a cinema series. For natural and biodynamic wines, check out Can Cisa (Bar Brutal) or Bar del Pla.
It’s too easy to plan every minute of a weekend away when you know exactly what to expect and design the trip down to the smallest detail. In reality, nothing beats the thrill of spontaneity. And there’s no better city in which to exercise ad-libbing than Barcelona – facilitated by the loving embrace of Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel. This boutique wonderland isn’t afraid of a gimmick or two, with a concierge app, bamboo bikes, locally-illustrated maps, portable WiFi, artisanal goods and free sweets. Most of which you practically fall over within five minutes of entering the hotel, and fall in love with about 15 minutes later.
Yurbban’s design is striking – more pimped-up new build than sympathetic Spanish restoration (albeit done responsibly with an excellent sustainability rating). Elegant lighting and soft furnishings suppress any inkling of a chain hotel. The deep blues and copper accents are bang on trend and everywhere I look are enviable interiors. Before my mind whirls down the tunnel of my own interior project, an enthusiastic receptionist thrusts an invite for a wine-and-cheese-fuelled ‘meet and greet’ in our hands, starting imminently and followed by live music.
After rioja and Manchego we retreat to our room, number 205, to freshen up for the evening. Although compact (there are other, significantly smaller, rooms on offer) our double room with a terrace is well thought through. Large panels of coloured glass reflect light throughout, a deliciously squidgy bed dominates the room and a chunky stone sink adds a welcome natural touch. Beyond the bed is the terrace, a little retreat of our own overlooking pretty wrought-iron balconies and the apartments opposite.
But there’s no time to linger. Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel’s roof terrace gives guests an instant hit of the city: the Gothic cathedral pokes up from a warren of townhouses below and in the opposite direction looms the Sagrada Família. Even in mid-November it’s balmy enough to sit outside, and so cava-with-a-view calls. Within a couple of hours of entering the Yurbban world, this Mr and Mrs Smith feel miles away from London, the mundane and an encroaching winter.
Before getting too comfortable, we venture into El Born, moments from the hotel and one of Barcelona’s hippest districts. Equipped with no reservations, guidebook or plan, we step out into the dark maze of alleys. A light mist heightens suspense as light bounces off the cobbled pavements, onto graffitied shop shutters and wooden doors. Everything is closed and quiet until we meander, with some relief, on busy Plaça de Sant Cugat. From then on we stumble (quite literally towards the end of the night) from one square to another, each filled with drinking and eating dens. Forget ‘hyyge’; whatever the Spanish word for cosy-welcoming-village-like-party-atmosphere is, we find it, enjoying white rioja and cod fritters in De Tapidillo; pizza and beers at the impressively eco Ale&Hop; and nightcaps outside La Candela in quaint Plaça de Sant Pere.
Breakfast the next morning is relaxed and plentiful. Local delicacies of Spanish omelettes and Catalan sausage with white beans ‘just as Grandma cooked them’; wholesome organic sheep’s-milk yoghurts, fruits and homemade muesli; Continental Manchego, jamon and salami; and a heap of mini sweet treats and pastries to finish. With such a feast, and the pretty outdoor terrace filled with bamboo furniture, ferns and palms; it’s a welcome respite for sore heads.
Culture calls and Yurbban Trafalgar’s location comes into its own once again. We’re guided by our handy Porter & Sail app to Gaudí’s Casa Milà and Casa Batlló and pass the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, all of which loom up quite unbelievably from already-exquisite boulevards. A token trip to Sagrada Família turns out not to be token at all – the mind of Gaudí thrown up in a never-ending architectural masterpiece is truly inspirational. Full of awe, we linger over a long lunch in the Argentinian enclave, Plaça Jacint Reventós. On the way back to Yurbban, shops like Bon Vent and Le Fortune are too good to resist. Especially when interspersed with watering-holes Aguelo013 and Formatgeria La Seu –- a tiny cheese shop serving a taster of three local cheeses and glass of red wine for all of €3. But pretend I didn’t tell you, because discovering it for yourself is truly magical.
The promise of ’Grandma’s cooking’ lures us back to Yurbban. After Pisco Vermouth cocktails on the terrace we head down to Xibarri (the hotel restaurant) for dinner. All smoky lighting, live soul singers and jazz-band clientele, Xibarri is a destination in its own right. The manager takes pride in offering truly local cuisine – no tapas or paella, but authentic Catalan dishes. Following eager recommendations we start with cod cheeks and coca de recapte (flatbread with seasonal vegetables), moving onto hearty macaroni and Galician T-Bone steak, finishing with cheese and honey. We could almost be deep in the Catalan countryside.
Before returning to a grey London the next day, we stroll down to the port for a gasp of sea air, discovering pretty Parc de la Ciutadella on our way. Meandering past balloon sellers, a samba band, tai chi sessions and kids’ birthday parties under a brilliant blue sky feels like the perfect Sunday morning. Walking back up through La Ribera we glimpse the cultural centre, Born de Cançons, the Picasso Museum and the Catalan Music Hall. It seems there is no end to this city’s charms and, for us now, Yurbban Trafalgar is certainly one of them.