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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Barcelona Hostal Martina Review 2010

Hostal Martina
Barcelona Hostal Review

Barcelona's Hostal Martina, located in the elegant Eixample district, is one of those "hostales" which makes you wonder, "Why haven't I stayed here before?"

Because after you stay once, you're likely to return again and again after you experience its rich elegance.

First of all, it's a "hostal" and not a hotel. It's considered "budget lodging" and not luxury. Some may equate it with a bed and breakfast, in fact - if they serve breakfast, and Hostal Martina does.

The building is a perfect example of Modernisme architecture, built in the very early 1900s. The entrance, the staircase, the tiled floors and high ceilings are all evidence of that.

The rooms lack decoration but the 12-foot molded ceilings, sometimes colorfully painted, and mosaic tiled floors give each room a style all its own. (the room in these photos was mine!!)

For functionality you have a large, comfortable bed (unless you're a single) and new pillows, tall luggage rack and hangers, and, in most rooms, an old fashioned, full bathroom.

Breakfast is also available if you like. The "full breakfast" offered cereal, sandwich, yogurt, toast with butter and marmalade, coffee and juice but I only had the toast with coffee and juice. It was more than enough for me.

I spent two nights in Hostal Martina in Barcelona and, in fact, it was my second visit in 4 years. The owner, Maria, remembered me from my previous visit and we had quite a long chat upon my arrival about the hostal business, the economic crisis, website building, and the expansion of Hostal Martina from one floor to two, adding a fully equipped apartment as well.

She gave me the grandest of grand tours of the rooms which were empty at mid-day, many of which had an enclosed gallery or a balcony, large enough to put a small table and chair. Many rooms had colorful stained glass windows.

And since this is an OLD building and the hostal has the original thick plaster-and-brick walls, don't expect to hear any noise from your neighbors. I didn't notice any street noise either through my floor-to-ceiling length doors with wooden shutters.

The hostal has free Wi-Fi interenet as well, a nice plus for today's traveler. I certainly used it happily.

Upon arrival, my room was spotlessly clean, towels perfectly folded, bed made and inviting. I still can't get over the floor tile and molded ceiling I had in the bedroom. Just amazing.

As I said, it's located on the Carrer de Bailen, 42, in the Eixample district, the part to the "right" of the Passeig de Gracia and very near the Plaza de Tetuan (metro by the same name). It's about a 10-15 minute walk to the Plaça de Catalunya. The neighborhood itself is almost completely residential and totally safe, there are a few bars and restaurants, cafés for breakfast or an evening drink and snack. Some of the surrounding buildings, including theirs, forces the pedestrian to stop ever 20 seconds and look up, marveling at the architectural wonder you have before you - but these places are everywhere in the Eixample.

Upon entering the building you're immediately hit with an "oh my God" moment with (literally) sculptured walls, pillars, and fresco-like paintings. It's definitely worth taking some photos.

But that's not all, there's also a beauuuuuutiful light-and-air "space" inside the building's entrance, worthy of a postcard which, in fact, is shown on the Hostal Martina website. An elevator can take you to the first floor if you have luggage (in the US/Britain it would be considered the second floor) or you can walk up the original marble staircase to the door marked "Hostal Martina".

There are more rooms to the hostal on the second floor as well. Chances are you won't have ever stayed in a "hostal" with bigger, more architecturally elegant rooms than at Hostal Martina in Barcelona.

More Photos of Hostal Martina in Barcelona:

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