Anytime I'm travelling and staying somewhere for an extended period; I always try to stay in an Airbnb. There is something, not just about the way they feel, but where they are usually located. Airbnb's, compared to hotels, are usually located outside of the tourist hub. Local neighbourhoods where you can suddenly feel at home. Instead of turning every corner and being faced with camera frenzied, travellers and "American" bars.
Since we booked this vacation to Barcelona fairly spontaneously, there wasn't lots of time to plan and organise. Once we had booked our flights I started searching online for hotels. Everyone that had a decent review seemed fine but lacked character. Then I poked around a bit on Airbnb and found this apartment. The colour jumped out at me right away, and I feel in love.
The neighbourhood was located only 15 minutes by foot from the Gothic Quarter and 10 minutes from the Metro. The perfect place to be. Far enough away from the sights to remain a quiet and relaxed area but close enough to not warrant a massive trek anywhere we went.
The building we stayed in was built in 1920, and the beautiful art nouveau architectural influences were seen throughout. The only downside to the apartment was it was a six-floor walk-up. It was a pretty intense staircase, but once we reached the top, the view you were granted was more than worth the effort.
From the minute we stepped in the door, I felt like I was home. Bathed in the warmth of bright coloured and rich textures everywhere I looked.
The ground floor was complete with a luxurious bathroom (with a tub - my one MUST-HAVE for any home away from home), a bookshelf complete with any amenities and piece of entertainment you could want, one of the two bedrooms and a kitchen with all the mod-cons.
Our host was so kind enough to leave us milk, yoghurt, bread, fruit and every morning beverage anyone could even want. It made for an easy breafkast on the terrace the first morning we were there.
My mum and dad shared the bedroom on the first floor. It was tucked into a little nook beside the kitchen and a small balcony that stuck out on the back of the building with a beautiful view of both the city to the one side and the hillside to the other. The bed was covered in a bright green bedsheet and seemed to glow against the white walls and wardrobes. When lying down on the bed, you could stare up at the old brick ceiling from the original building. The bricks with their old wood beams seemed almost medieval but built to last and added to the character of the building.
The living room was the perfect place to kick your feet up at the end of a long day, and I was so impressed by all the little things our host had stocked up on that shelf. Blankets, towels for the beach, a cooler for a picnic, movies to watch on the tv and even books on Barcelona in case you came on even more of a whim than we did. But the real piece-de-resistance was to be found up the tiny, winding staircase behind the bookshelf.
Up here was the second floor of the apartment. It seemed to me like something the owner had made; it didn't feel as old as the rest of the house, but I never thought to ask. Once you came up the staircase, you came into the second bedroom, where I would hold up for the week we would be staying in Barcelona. The large bedroom had a princess like a canopy you could open up if you felt like sleeping with the terrace doors wide open. The terrace was to the right of the bedroom and in the morning, if you left the curtain open, you had breathtaking views of the city to wake up to as the sun rose.
This was my favourite place to be. We ate breakfast on the terrace every morning, and I would sit out here every evening. The lights of the city dancing in the distance and very fairy lights strung up on the grapevines lighting up the terrace enough to read a few more chapters of your travel book before heading to bed. The internet was the one downside of this place, actually all over Barcelona to be fair. It was fairly weak anywhere in the house and non-existent on the roof.
This meant that when we were up here, you could turn off. No Facebook or Instagram to distract you. I sat up here and wrote in my notebook or just stared out into the distance, daydreaming in my head.
The upstairs bedroom also had a small table to eat at if you didn't feel like dining on the terrace, but really...I can only imagine doing that if it were pouring rain outside.
It truly was the most incredible place to stay for the mini-break we had set out on. There aren't many places I would return to simply for the accommodation, but this is one of them. And also, I completely fell in love with the city, the Catalan language and the FOOD. I'm already dreaming up the next vacation when I can bring my husband Dan along, and we can stay once more in this dreamy apartment. Let's hope Barcelona doesn't ban Airbnb in the meantime. I would hate to think of all the people who would miss out on an experience like this if they ever did...