In the weeks leading up to our trip I was kindly offered a discount code from a last minute hotel company that could be used 10 days before we left.
So with that and the gift of birthday flights from my mam, it was starting to look like the perfect (and quite cheap) getaway. Then that perfect present, started to unwrap. I was told to message said company before we booked, so that recommendations could be sent over, I did this and didn’t receive a reply. Not to worry, the prices are generally quite static on this website and for an overnight stay in a nice, central hotel we were looking at £100 per night. I then tried emailing again on the Wednesday (5 days before we flew) and thankfully late on Thursday night I received a list of hotels that were recommended. Phew! I quickly jumped on to the app only to be greeted by huge change in prices, they astronomical. The same hotels that had been advertised as being £100 per night a mere two days before, were now £350+ per night, not only that but when I did try to proceed to book the code we were issued didn’t work. After visiting a few other websites a pattern started to emerge, all the prices were incredibly high and way over our budget – £1000 for 3 nights in a mediocre hotel, yeah right. After more frantic searching we discovered that a global business conference was taking place in Barcelona on the exact dates that we had booked. Cue one humongous holiday meltdown.
The following morning I emailed my contact again asking if anything could be done to help and also to have the code amended so that we could use it. Friday, no reply; Saturday, no reply; I contacted the companies support email address, no reply; panic starts to really kick in now; Sunday, no reply. We were flying in less than 24 hours, had two very excited girls running around the house, but had no accommodation. So in a last ditch attempt to salvage our family getaway, we turned to Airbnb and thankfully two wonderful hosts agreed to help us out.
Day 1 & 2
The first villa we stayed in was owned by Alfred and from the moment we arrived Alfred was a dream host; offering lifts to the local restaurant when we first arrived hungry and tired, tips on where to go in the city and calling for our morning taxi each day (avoiding any awkward phone calls where I attempt to do so myself using the small amount of Spanish I think I know). Whatever we needed, he was always there to help.
The villa itself was a slightly further out of Barcelona than we had planned on staying (a 10 minute taxi ride), however it boasted a breathtaking view across the whole of Barcelona and gave us an incredible view point to watch the sunrise and sunset. And what a sunrise it was – if anything can drag me out of bed before Penny has, then it must be good. Villa Rock is set across three floors and is situated in Pedralbes, a gated community on the hills overlooking the city of Barcelona. In the main living area only a wall of glass separates you, the garden and more importantly the pool. The glass is mirrored on the outside which prevents the villa becoming too hot and also stops the inevitable walking into glass injuries that happen so regularly with sliding doors. And if you’re a swimming fiend then the downstairs bedroom is for you, they have doors that open out directly above the outdoor pool. So if you wake up in the middle of the night fancying some skinny dip action, you can do so without disturbing the rest of the house (or without giving them nightmares). There is also a generously sized kitchen which is stocked with any cooking tools you may need – olive oil, salt, herbs, utensils – but if like me, you often refuse to cook while on holiday, then it’s still a great area to pour drinks in ;-).
Our second stay was in an apartment in the heart of the city, in a fantastic neighbourhood filled with bars and restaurants, a small bakery on the corner (for your morning croissants) and a fruiters next door (try the Cherimoya). As you can see from the photos, it’s not surprising that the owner Ana Ros is also an interior designer; the whole place is stunning. Every detail has been carefully thought out and amongst all the antiques which decorate every wall, you almost feel like royalty living in a French palace. The apartment has a living room area with study and snug corner, a dining room, a kitchen, utility, numerous bathrooms and, although I’ve never paid much attention when it comes to hallways, the most beautiful hallway I’ve ever seen. It also contains three double bedrooms all with ensuites, so it hosting a large family, or group booking can be done with ease and as all of the bedrooms are equally beautiful, they’ll be no need for the usual (and often viscous) fight for the ‘best’ room. Even with four of us living there, it was easy to lose one another.
The majority of apartments in Barcelona have balconies, you see them everywhere and this apartment is no different however, it also has a large terrace area too. There you’ll find the most Instagrammable table situation I’ve ever seen – distressed wood table top with four vintage garden chairs topped with blue and white striped cushions. Taking an hour or more out of your holiday to shoot as many flatlays as possible is totally normal, isn’t it? And just when you thought the photo opportunities were running dry, you step outside and use the buildings original 19th century elevator. Seriously, this apartment could not have been any more magical.
I may write another Barcelona post soon which will cover everything we did during our stay. It’ll probably be quite short as we spent more time than I like to admit wandering aimlessly around the streets not really knowing what to do or where to go, and hunting out restaurants that the kids would eat in. If I can gather together more than three lines, then I’ll do it.