Friday, August 2, 2013

Barcelona's Renaissance Fira

Kinda Cool!

In Barcelona hotels run the gamut from ultra luxe to boutique and all the way to trendy and budget.  The Mandarin on the tony Passeig de Gracia is the high end. The sail shaped "W" defines trendy (think unabashed rip-off of Dubai's Burj Al Arab). Over the years we have stayed on the east side at Hilton's Diagonal Mar and last year the beachfront Ritz Carlton Hotel Arts with its poolside Frank Gehry "Fish".

This trip we opted for the Renaissance's new reflagged "Fira" on Barcelona's emerging west side. It is pretty hard to miss with its two towers clad in a tree motif.

The Renaissance Fira

This hotel was clearly designed by an architect about two clicks past Type A. Rooms come in two sensory deprivation flavors: All White and All Black. I got the all white. Ms. M and Mr. B got the all black. The rest of the hotel is an overload of steel. And, sandwiched between the two towers from bottom to top, is an open vertical garden with 300 palm trees. If you have vertigo, this is not your hotel.

Looking Down on Vertical Gardens

The rooftop features the highest outdoor swimming pool in Europe (there is also a fitness center and a small indoor pool on 26). The 14th floor (roughly the middle) spans the two towers housing the hotel's restaurant.

The "All White" Room With its Amazing Window

The Concrete Framed Windows

My Room Had a Stunning View of Montjuc 

So lets see. First the only real negative. The hotel is in a no mans land of odd incomplete highrises and the entrance to the hotel sits in the middle of an oddly paved and confusing plaza with its front door on the wrong side. The whole area just feels sort of zombie like and not altogether welcoming.

Now that that is out of the way lets focus on the good stuff. I actually liked the decor of my room. On the 24th floor I had a splendid view. The room was totally quiet. I heard nothing once my heavy vault like door closed. The staff, despite being young, is eager to serve and very courteous. The free (yep I said free) wireless internet was perfect. The breakfast buffet was about the best I've had in any hotel. And, despite some negative TripAdvisor comments, once I did my homework, I found the location to be almost perfect. Heres why:

The TMB #46 Airport Express stops directly across the street (in front of the big IKEA store).  The round trip savings on cab fare from El Prat to a La Rambla hotel buys two nice dinners complete with a pitcher of sangria.

The Fira TMB rail stop is just steps away. Two stops in one direction and you are at Plaza Espanya (perfect for anyone needing to proximity to the Caixa Forum), the Montjuc Magic Fountain is right there too, and connections to every conceivable metro line depart from the Espanya station. Going the other direction is the R5 train with direct service to the cool Montserrat mountains (a perfect day trip that I'd suggest every Barcelona visitor consider.)

The huge Gran Via 2 Shopping Mall is a short walk away with its gigantic Carrefours supermarket. For families, a little "living local" can be pretty helpful when it comes to bargain priced dinners.

Perhaps because of the location and newness, they frequently offer almost unbelievably bargain rates too. 

All in all, Roadboy really likes the Fira.

Roadboy's Travels © 2013

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