Find a Place to Stay in Spain
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Searching for Character
Hotels and hostels in Spain are comparable to those you might find elsewhere in Europe. The rooms themselves can be quite small, as can the bathrooms, but they often have a lot of character that reflects the surrounding area. If you're staying at a higher end hotel, don't be put off by the size of the room. If you're in budget accommodations, you may be surprised with their character and prime location.
When you're traveling in a country like Spain, you'll really benefit from seeking out locally owned and independent boutique hotels. Not only do these hotels typically cost less than comparable chain hotels, but they offer you a far better experience. They have a unique character and are usually integrated into the community on a level that you won't experience at a chain hotel. Also, more of your money will actually stay in the community you're visiting instead of heading to a corporate headquarters.
Like elsewhere in Europe, it may be beneficial to make reservations ahead of time when you travel to Spain, particularly during the high seasons. Rooms can fill up, and most hotels are not used to people showing up without reservations. In larger cities, like Barcelona, it can be overwhelming and chaotic to find a place to stay after you arrive. It can also be very difficult to compare prices once you arrive, so you can never confirm that you're actually getting a good deal.
Traveling in the off peak or shoulder seasons can save you a lot of money when you travel to Spain. Many Europeans spend their vacation time on the coastline in Spain, so if you can avoid European holidays you will save yourself a lot of money. Also, consider visiting during the week as opposed to weekends. Many hotels will offer special weekday rates so you'll find you can save yourself a lot of money.
Finally, if you're going to be visiting one city for more than a few days, consider subletting and apartment for a week or two. You'll save money on the rate of you accommodation, but you'll also likely have a kitchen so you can save yourself a lot of money by cooking your own meals instead of eating out.
An Abundance of Choice
Accommodations in Spain are highly variable and includes everything from guesthouses, to apartments, to bed and breakfasts. You can select the type of accommodation you wish based on the type of trip you're planning. If you're a backpacker hoping to socialize with other young travelers then you might choose to go with a hostel. Alternatively, if you're traveling as a couple on a budget you'll likely spend about the same amount of money on a cheap, private room, where you'll get some privacy without the party atmosphere of a hostel. Bed and breakfasts are a great way to experience a different side of Spanish tourism, while apartments may offer the best deal for people staying for a longer period of time in one area.
Do some research ahead of time on the area you plan to visit to decide exactly what kind of hotel might be best for you. There are plenty of options out there. Be sure and consider what priorities are most important to you, location, cost, atmosphere, among other things should all be taken into account when you select your hotel.
Barcelona is one of the more popular travel destinations in Spain. As such, it is usually beneficial to make reservations for accommodation before you arrive. If you're traveling during the peak season then it is best to make reservations about at least a month in advance. During the low seasons you will probably find the best deals several weeks out. Accommodation in Barcelona is comparable to elsewhere in Spain. Most of the budget options come in the form of hostels. Students often receive discounts so if you have a student ID be sure and take it. If you're not interested in staying in a hostel, an apartment is often your best bet. You can enjoy having your own kitchen and living space, plus you will have privacy you will not be able to find in a hostel. Apartments are often cheaper than hotels as well.
Many tourists in Barcelona choose to stay in Ciutat Vella, or the Gothic Quarter. There are a range of options there, from budget hostels to more luxurious hotels. Pensions are also a good option for those on a budget that want a little more than a hostel has to offer. If you're looking for a mid-range of high end hotel, you will find a high concentration of them in the L'Eixample area. This area is well connected to the rest of the city by public transportation, but is very limited in parking if you have your own vehicle.
Madrid is a cosmopolitan city with a large supply of hotel options. Hostels are common and are the most frequent budget option you will find. Short term apartments are also a good option for visitors who want to fully immerse themselves in the city. Some of the more popular neighborhoods to stay in include Barrio de las Letras, which is home to many bars, pubs, and restaurants. There's also a beautiful square and many popular sights in the area, but some people do consider this neighborhood too touristy and lacking in authenticity. The neighborhood of La Latina has a Bohemian feel. There you will find plenty of bars and places to grab tapas. There's also a great Sunday morning flea market. Salamanca and Torre Europa offer more high end options. In these neighborhoods you'll find plenty of boutique shops and high end department stores. There are also some great, but expensive restaurants you can enjoy.
Madrid is a city that never sleeps and as such you'll find many of the hostels louder and more active in the evenings. If you're hoping for a more peaceful slumber then you might find a budget hotel is more your style.