If visiting Barcelona in the high season (Mar–Jul & Sep), book ahead as the city’s hotels, pensions and hostals (smaller, more basic guesthouses rated at one to three stars) usually fill to capacity. When reserving a room, ask about special deals as many hotels have these, especially in the low season (Oct–Mar & Aug).
There are scores of cheap pensions and hostals on La Rambla and its sidestreets in the Barri Gòtic and El Raval. Plaça Reial also has a cluster of budget accommodation options.
Room size (and comfort level) in pensions and hostals varies widely, but in the accredited budget places (the tourist office has a list of these), you’ll find clean rooms and good security. Rooms come either amb bany (with a bath) or sense bany (without a bath); most have a washbasin.
Hotels and hostals give the best rooms to those who ask for them – so always inquire. Most hostals , particularly in the old town, have some rooms with lovely wrought-iron balconies, which can make all the difference to a small room. Ask for una habitació exterior amb vistes (a room with a view) or amb balcó (with balcony). If you’re a light sleeper, opt for a una habitació interior (interior room).
Single rooms at hostals and pensions are few and far between, but hotels are legally obliged to let double rooms to single occupants at a fixed price. All rates must be posted at reception or in the rooms.
Many hotels offer discounts for children under 12 when they share their parents’ room on a temporary bed.
If you’re going to be staying at youth hostels and campsites, carry a chain and padlock to tie your luggage to some thing sturdy. Always leave your valuables in a safe or locked box, which most places have.
The tourist office (see Turisme de Catalunya) in Plaça de Catalunya has a hotel booking service, which is useful if you arrive in high season without a reservation. It offers bookings in hotels of all categories, but most often in three-star hotels and above. A deposit is payable on reservation. The tourist office also produces a list of the best pensions and hostals for budget travellers. On the web, try www.barcelonahotels.es and www.barcelonaturisme.com.
Discover rural Catalonia by staying at Cases de Pagès (country or farm houses), which offer B&B-style lodgings. They vary widely, from small, rural homes with a handful of rooms to luxurious, palace-sized farmhouses. Stop by the Turisme de Catalunya office for a free list of the Gîtes de Catalunya and (to buy) the Cases de Pagès book, which has detailed listings and pictures of all such houses. This information is also accessible through its website ( www.gencat.es/probert).
Throughout the Pyrenees and other mountainous areas, you’ll find refugis (basic mountain hostels for hikers and bikers). They offer simple, cheap accommodation, usually bunk beds in a dorm room. In the summer months, refugis fill up quickly, so book it is advisable in advance. Ask at tourist offices for a list of local ones; or stop by Turisme de Catalunya.