The W Barcelona is one of the most, if not the most, iconic building in the city due to its glass and aluminium clad structure that seems to soar right out of the water along the coast. Located right on the beach front just after the port, the hotel sits at the beginning of the Barceloneta promenade close to a new development of shops and bars. The jewel in the crown is the jaw-dropping view from the rooms.
The hotel is located just after the city port at the beginning of the Barceloneta promenade on a concrete island, similar to the Burj al Arab in Dubai, UAE. Although the hotel sits in one of Barcelona's most typical districts that is part of the old city, it is far-removed from the city's vibrant rough-around-the-edges atmosphere. The W is close to a new development comprising shops, bars and restaurants that was still under construction during out stay.
Otherwise the hotel is seconds from the beach, where life unravels day and night throughout the year, with Xiringitos, or beach bars in English, setting up in the summer and for Sonar-off.
The W is part of the Starwood group and is opening hotels all over the word at an astonishing rate. The W London opened its doors last year in the West End's Leicester Square.
Since its opening in 2009, the W Barcelona has fit right in almost straight away despite its sleek and somewhat pretentious reputation. Far from the typical charms of the old city's winding streets and exposed brick, the hotel has made a surprisingly suitable landmark.
Inspired by the sail-shaped Burj al Arab Hotel (Jumeirah Hotels) - minus the helipad - in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (see our review), the glass and aluminium structure marks the beginning of the beach and balances out the equally adventurous architecture of the Hotel Arts at the end of the beach towards Via Olympica.
Set at the end of its own drive, the hotel juts out towards the sky boasting a lit-up 'W' on its side, like an eye surveying the rest of the city in the night sky. The hotel's opening was met by harsh criticism from the locals who sought to hold onto Barcelona's irresistible beat-up charm, but we were pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere once inside. Staying true to its reputation for somewhat eye-wateringly sleek design, the pink and green neon lighting help create different ambiences throughout the day.
The lacking intimate atmosphere and the seldom contact with staff takes away from a boutique feel and positions the hotel as a mass market establishment. However once we saw the infinity-edged pool looking out to sea and Bareloneta Bay, we were taken aback - little did we know the pool would just be a taster for what was to come. When we arrived in our room is when we were really blown away: the view, half city-half sea, was absultely magical. Changing with the light from dawn till dusk, the landscape was mesmerising. We could have laid in bed all day watching the colours change on the city's walls and the bay lining the glistening sea.
Although we loved the pool, the rest of the hotel was average due to the lack of outdoor spaces - most W hotels have beautiful exteriors, which is a shame not to have in Barcelona due to the great weather.
The main restaurant, WAVE, has indoor and outdoor seating. It serves Ó la carte meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In terms of facilities there is a BLISS spa, a SWEAT gym, a fully-equipped business centre and a bar on the 25th floor, the top floor.
With 473 rooms, the hotel can hardly be described as a boutique hotel, but the advantage it has over any other hotel in the city is its spectacular views from every room - it was this that really won us over.
With nine room categories on offer, choosing your room isn't easy, but what matters most is the view - anywhere above the 7th floor and half city, half water, is the ideal view to request when booking. In terms of dÚcor the rooms are a neutral palette of greys and whites, the main feature of the room being the enormous floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall view. The room has all the expected mod-cons such a wide-screen television, mini-bar, in-room safe and room service. However, for guests who want to watch a music channel or film on television, there is an extra charge, which isn't the case at most hotels. The open-plan layout means that there is no bathroom as such - the sinks are set in the room itself and the shower and toilets are separate and hidden from view behind opaque glass walls. Rooms in the starting category do not have bath tubs, but there is a large shower with rain-showerhead and Bliss toiletries. The disadvantage to having a 'bathroom' laid out in this way, teamed with an opaque glass door, is that you can make out the person using the toilet and if you are on a romantic weekend you might not want to share these types of 'displays' - a little hard to avoid here! The overall feel is however extremely pleasant and in terms of layout and dÚcor, we felt the W Barcelona has been more successful at getting it right when compared to other hotels of the same group.
The hotel has four food and beverage outlets. The first is the lobby bar, a casual and lively area; it isn't the best place to come for a quiet drink due to its location, sandwiched between the reception and the pool, meaning there tends to be quite a lot of animation with people coming and going constantly. The pool has its own bar out on the terrace. Meals are served in WAVE restaurant, which offers modern international cuisine from an Ó la carte menu - breakfast is presented as a buffet and guests also have the choice of Ó la carte options. The restaurant has a Swedish diner feel, which we found a little cold and clinical. This area can also get very busy at breakfast, when most guests tend to use the restaurant. Otherwise lunch and dinner tend to be less busy. The fourth outlet is the lounge on the 25th floor of the hotel (also the top-most floor). The lounge is accessible to in-house guests but for non-guests, access is subject to availabilty. Guests can access this only if they have special VIP status, which can be obtained by paying a little extra for a room of a higher category or by knowing people in the right places. Frankly though, we were a little disappointed by the result. A well laid-out bar with red lighting and what we could only imagine to be a stunning view of the city in the daytime, the bar lacked atmosphere. Rarely busy, the area doesn't feel very welcoming despite the cocktails being of a high standard and the staff being extremely friendly.
The hotel does not have its own beach, but who needs a private beach when you have the entire Barceloneta strip and beyond, to play with? The beach varies from point to point in cleanliness, noise and people's sexual orientation. Some parts are also reserved for nudists, so make sure you choose the best area for you if you want to avoid being glared at because of what you are (not) wearing.
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Mark out of 10 for geographical location
flights June : average price