Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two Hotels in Barcelona by Margot Justes

This was a Mediterranean  cruise that departed from Barcelona, one of the major ports in Europe. A beautiful city with stunning architecture, Antoni Gaudi’s work alone is worth a visit. I stayed two nights before the cruise, and two nights after. I picked two different hotels, both were centrally located.

The first hotel in Barcelona, and one I would highly recommend was Hotel Casa Fuster; an intimate hotel with fewer than a hundred rooms, built in the Art Nouveau style of architecture, located in the center of town on 132 Passeig De Gracia.

Service was incomparable, room was beautiful, the roof top had spectacular views of the city, and a sumptuous breakfast that included eggs any style, Spanish ham and cheeses, excellent bread and a selection of coffees, made the stay perfect. I’m a breakfast person. They even had an industrial strength Nespresso machine. I started with a pot of coffee and hot steaming milk, and finished with the self serve Nespresso coffee.

The one thing that made the stay exceptional was the service. I stopped and asked about a visit to La Sagrada Familia, and was informed it is better to book a tour, otherwise the wait would be rather long. They called and reserved the tickets, and all I had to do was walk to the Julia travel agency near the church; about a twenty minute walk from the hotel. The agency was well known and had many offices in the city. It worked out perfectly well, and the guide was informative, and we had plenty of time to stay on our own after the tour ended. The hotel staff was right about the long wait.

The second hotel, the Majestic, also on 68 Passeig De Gracia, was contemporary, all marble and glass. As I got out of the taxi, I was asked by the porter in a top hat, if I had reservations. I didn’t want to be rude, so replied that yes, indeed I had reservations; however, an entirely different response came to mind. Not a good introduction to hotel, and it didn’t improve.

I requested an early arrival, and the hotel agreed, at least according to the travel agent. I checked in and was told that checkout was at noon, and I was early. They gave me a slip for the luggage, and told me that check in was at three.

I then asked about a tour to Montserrat, and the clerk at the registration desk showed me a private five hour car tour, to the tune of $600 hundred dollars. I said, I didn’t think so. I asked about a regular tour, she then tells me they are available, but we have to prepay with cash, or at least make a cash deposit, this way if we don’t show up, they keep the deposit.  No other effort was made-she lost interest when I declined the private car.

At this point I asked where was the nearest Julia office, and was told it’s a five minute cab ride. I asked her to show me on the map, and it turned out to be a ten minute walk from the hotel. I got my ticket, and off I went to Montserrat.

You could rent a car, and go on your own, but it was Sunday, besides the narrow road up the mountain was better left to the professionals. I’m really a quirky driver, and unless I’m in my own neck of the woods, as is my neighborhood, I leave the driving to others.

The breakfast was delicious, they had the obligatory omelet station, but the rest of the buffet was tapas style, and the Spanish ham, and various sausages, and cheeses were delicious. Coffee was excellent.  The Majestic also had a spectacular view of the city from the rooftop.

The rest of the staff at the Majestic was courteous, helpful and friendly. It’s amazing how first impressions and actions of the staff altered my perception of the hotel.

More about Barcelona next week.

Margot  Justes
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A Hotel in Paris
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