After an excellent flight with Iberia to Madrid on the A350 and a few nights at the Atocha Madrid Hotel, it was time to head to one of my favorite cities in the world: Barcelona.
I spent a few nights staying with family and catching up with friends in a town called Tarragona — about an hour’s drive south — before arriving in Barcelona. If you visit the area, I highly recommend spending some time in Tarragona.
I chose the Alexandra Barcelona Hotel for my first 3 nights in town. This also would be my first time staying at one of Hilton’s Curio-branded properties, so I was looking forward to a new experience.
I’m not usually a huge fan of Hilton properties — save for the free breakfast I get thanks to my Hilton Honors Gold status — but I did end up enjoying my stay at the Alexandra.
Read on to find out why!
I liked the location of the hotel. It sits on the corner of Carrer de Mallorca and the world-famous Rambla de Catalunya, though thankfully it’s not situated in the main tourist section of the thoroughfare.
Walk just 6 blocks slightly downhill towards the sea and you arrive at Plaça de Catalunya and the center of the city.
Barcelona’s street grid is one of its defining characteristics and sets it apart from other European cities. The streets here are formed mostly by octagonal blocks rather than square ones like you’ll find in New York. It looks quite impressive from the sky, and it allows the city to have a vibrant soul, with block after block filled with thousands of cafés, restaurants, and bars.
The Alexandra fits in easily among the cityscape, but this also means you could easily walk past it without even knowing it was there.
I knew I wanted to stay in the Barcelona EDITION (a Marriott Bonvoy property) for my actual birthday, so thought I’d mix it up and stay at a Hilton property for the first half of my stay in Barcelona.
The main thing I wanted was an outdoor pool, which is why I picked the Alexandra.
I usually go for a mid-range room, but then I saw that the King Junior Suite with Terrace was priced at just $267 per night and wondered if it was a mistake.
To my surprise, I was able to book 3 nights for a total of 709€ (~$809 at the time). For a suite, I thought that was an absolute bargain.
While writing this review, I checked the prices again for a mid-week stay in March 2022 and saw that the same room is going for as low as 180€ ($200) per night — wow!
The rate I booked was “semi-flex,” meaning I could cancel beforehand and would pay for my stay on arrival rather than at the time of booking.
I could also have chosen to book with points, which would have set me back 69,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
According to our valuations, 69,000 Honors points are worth roughly $345, making cash the better value in this situation.
Bottom Line: Consult our monthly points valuations before deciding whether to pay in cash or points for a hotel stay. Rates can vary a lot, so it’s worth doing the math to make sure you’re making the right choice for payment.
Check-in was smooth and quick. I arrived around 2 p.m. and my room was ready and waiting for me.
A check-in agent explained the benefits I would get with my Hilton Honors Gold status, which included free breakfast (the part I love the most about staying at a Hilton with status) and an upgrade on availability.
As I was already in one of the highest room categories, there was no room for me to upgrade to.
I liked the huge sofa seating area in the lobby.
Next to the reception desk was a small working area with desks and chairs. It looked as if it was where the concierge was based at some point, but I only ever saw guests (including myself) using this space to work during my stay.
A further seating area was located just after the working area by the elevators.
Speaking of the elevators, they were rather convoluted in this hotel, though I am used to this in Barcelona as many of the buildings — and their elevators — are very old.
The main elevator I would take to my room on the seventh floor (and floors higher than mine) had barely enough space for 2 people. There was another elevator that you could take from the lobby to the pool area only and another set of 2 elevators that went to the lower floors.
I already mentioned the amenity that led me to book a stay at this hotel, and we’ll cover that in more detail later, but now let’s take a look at some of the other amenities on offer for guests.
Up 1 level from the PB (planta baja or ground floor) was a mezzanine that lead to Solomillo, the hotel’s restaurant.
The mezzanine also played host to this set of rather redundant seats that were probably just to fill space. I never saw anyone sitting here.
There were meeting rooms and larger spaces on the mezzanine level to cater to business travelers.
Hilton Honors Floor
Around the corner from the mezzanine was a sign advertising the “Hilton HHonors Floor,” but as it turns out, there wasn’t anything special about this floor at all.
It’s likely that years ago it was a floor reserved only for guests who were members of Hilton’s loyalty program, but it still seemed strange that they’d group all of them on just 1 floor. I figured this had to be a thing of the past because the program was renamed from “HHonors” to just “Honors” in 2017.
The fitness room, meanwhile, felt like it was further in the past than 2017. The bike, elliptical, and treadmill (there was only 1 of each) were very outdated.
Even if the weights were heavy enough to use for a proper workout, the lack of a bench would have restricted the routine anyway.
If you did decide you’d like to try and work up a sweat here, there were towels for drying off.
Attached to the fitness room was a small sauna that wasn’t in use.
If a state-of-the-art hotel gym is high on your list of priorities for a hotel in Barcelona, you’ll want to avoid the Alexandra.
That said, there are several gym chains in Barcelona where I’ve managed to get daily and weekly passes, so that could be an alternative should you be committed to staying here.
For those who drive to the city, there’s underground parking that costs €18 (~$20) per day.
The rooftop pool is the main reason I chose to stay in this hotel.
While it’s not on the very top of the building, it is on the roof of the first floor, technically making it a rooftop pool, at least in my book.
This is the view I was greeted with when I arrived.
The pool was surrounded by sun loungers, deck chairs, and day beds. On each of my visits, there were only ever a handful of guests. And nobody was getting up at the crack of dawn to reserve a bed with their towels.
At times when there were others, the day beds you can see behind the loungers proved to be the most popular place to sit, sunbathe, and sleep.
As the pool is unfortunately surrounded by buildings and faces northwest, it remained in the shade for most of the day.
At least you could see by the glowing buildings that the Barcelona sun was indeed shining bright.
A sign in the tiny elevators explained the COVID-19 protocols in place at the hotel.
This included the usual suspects like suggesting social distancing and more-frequent hand washing.
I don’t recall seeing much else in the way of signage or rules around COVID-19 aside from the optional gloves available at the breakfast buffet.
I didn’t see anybody using them, unlike at the Atocha Madrid Hotel where the use of gloves at the buffet was mandatory.
To be honest, the hotel wasn’t overly busy and I find too much COVID-19 signage to be a bit much at this point.
We’ve been living with this pandemic for 2 years now and any respectable traveler should know by now how to behave when traveling in the era of the pandemic.
I decided to stay in one of the best rooms in the hotel: the King Junior Suite With Terrace.
It was the terrace that caught my attention, and for good reason. Staying in a room with outdoor space, especially when the weather’s good, is a priority of mine when I’m planning a trip.
I’m sure at check-in I was told room 785 was the only example of my room type, though there were also rooms adjacent to mine along the corridor that appeared (at least from the outside) that they might have a terrace, too.
If it wasn’t for the amazing outdoor terrace, I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a suite. I found the room’s interior to be nothing more than what you’d expect in a standard room.
From the hotel’s website, the interiors of the other suites look more, well, suite-like. However, it was the outside of the room that I was more interested in.
To the right upon entering the room was a huge wardrobe space with more storage than even the heaviest of packers could need.
Inside were several classic amenities, such as a hairdryer, a safe, an iron, and an ironing board.
Take a few steps into the room and you’ll encounter this lounge area that features a sofa, an armchair, and the all-important minibar and coffee machine.
Hilton’s coffee of choice (at least in Europe) tends to be Nespresso. It’s not my favorite coffee, but it could be worse.
I did find it strange that of the 4 coffee pods, 3 were decaffeinated.
To the right were the king bed and the 40-inch TV that I didn’t use.
I did particularly like the luggage rack at the end of the bed — it came in handy for packing and unpacking.
Just next to the TV was a desk that I thought I’d use, but as it turns out, I preferred to work in the sunshine out on the terrace or at cafés instead.
On top of the desk were 2 complimentary large bottles of water and a Marshall speaker.
I love it when hotels add their branding to little things like drink coasters.
I’m all for minimal hotel interiors, but there wasn’t anything about the design of this room that screamed “suite” to me.
The ghastly burgundy curtains are offensive to the eye, but they did a great job of keeping the sunlight out when morning rolled around.
I found a lot of wear-and-tear in the room, like scuff marks on most of the walls. Some areas were a lot worse than others.
The floors had also seen better days. This coffee-stained rug was just 1 of the areas that could have done with a little TLC.
You could say I was underwhelmed by the room’s interior. Thankfully, all that was forgotten once I stepped through the drapes and onto the terrace.
I had my very own outdoor terrace that basked under the glow of the Spanish sun from sunrise to sunset.
It had just about everything you could ask for, including a dining table and 2 chairs.
There was also a lounge chair for catching some rays.
But the best thing of all was this glorious tub.
I’d never had a soak in an outdoor bath before my stay at the Alexandra and I can safely say that it won’t be my last.
The tub was set up with a set of towels and bathing amenities.
The view from the terrace over the rooftops of the city was the cherry on top.
Before we leave the terrace to go back inside, I thought I’d leave you with 1 more tub picture confirming that it indeed was the perfect place to nurse a hangover with Netflix and some McDonald’s.
The bathroom is situated on the left side of the room, and it seems like it’s about twice as big as your average hotel bathroom. At least the bathroom is fit for a suite!
I liked the clean lines and simple design of the space.
Bathroom amenities included a box of tissues, 2 hand towels, and 2 drinking glasses.
There was also body wash, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, and a shoeshine sponge.
If there isn’t enough space in the wardrobe, the bathroom cupboard provides even more storage.
The shower was my favorite part of the bathroom — it was massive.
By the side of the shower cubicle is the separate water closet that has a door for privacy. Inside the WC is where you’ll find the provided robes and slippers.
The slipper quality wasn’t the best, but I hardly ever use these amenities anyway, so I wasn’t bothered.
Food and Beverage
The hotel has 1 main restaurant called Solomillo. In non-pandemic times, this is where breakfast and dinner are served. During my stay, however, there was no dinner service.
Instead, guests could order from a light-bites menu throughout the day while seated either at the hotel bar, at one of its tables on the sidewalk, or at the rooftop pool.
I ate breakfast at Solomillo twice and thoroughly enjoyed each visit.
First things first: coffee.
It pains me to see coffee machines that aren’t bean-to-cup in any hotel, let alone in Spain where coffee culture is far better than in the U.K. (and the U.S. for that matter).
The saving grace was that instead of the regular Nespresso pods, this machine used Nespresso discs, which I find to be marginally better.
Next to the machine was a selection of coffee discs of varying strengths, Cola Cao (a quintessentially Catalonian sugary chocolate drink), and 3 types of tea.
Soft drinks, including apple and orange juice, water, and milk, were also available for self-service.
Cheap supermarket bread at a hotel breakfast buffet should be banned. Why even bother when there was proper, freshly baked bread on offer, too?
If like me, you like your bread toasted, and you can expect to spend more time than usual while this old-school carousel slowly browns your bread.
You could help yourself to a bowl of Kellogg’s cereal, along with an assortment of dried fruits and nuts for toppings.
As you’d expect from a breakfast buffet, a variety of cheese and cold cuts were available.
The cold cuts included turkey, regular ham, Spanish ham (Jamón Ibérico), and some kind of chorizo.
Over in the hot food section, there were scrambled eggs, pork and chicken sausages, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli — a seemingly random addition to a breakfast buffet.
An array of freshly cut fruit was waiting for those who like to start their day with a dose of vitamins.
No breakfast buffet is complete without a selection of sweet treats. Guests could choose from mini muffins, mini donuts, pastries, and cake.
If you’ve read any of my previous hotel reviews, you’ll be shocked to learn that I started my morning with an espresso and some fresh fruit.
This was followed, as always, by eggs and ham on toast.
One evening of my stay, Facebook (and therefore Instagram and WhatsApp) were down, causing “The Great Social Media Blackout of 2021.”
So, I decided to make my way to the bar for some real human interaction. My trusty Nordés was there to aid with the conversation.
Inside, the bar gave me New York vibes.
There was an impressive top-shelf liquor collection, including my favorite gin, Nordés, from Galicia in Northern Spain.
The bar also served charcuterie and cheese plates, while hot food items would be made in Solomillo’s kitchen and brought to wherever you were seated.
The covered seating area provided a more comfortable spot to dine in the shade.
It had softer, informal sofa-style seating…
…as well as a row of more traditional chairs and tables, should you prefer.
Larger parties could utilize the large table with seating for 8.
During my visit, the bar and terrace area was staffed with only 1 server. I’d like to think this is not typical, but my stay was at the end of the season and the hotel didn’t feel super busy.
I got a little peckish 1 afternoon by the pool so I decided to try out some food. As previously mentioned, the hotel was offering a smaller and simpler menu during my stay.
While it featured classic Spanish dishes like “patatas bravas” (spicy potatoes), I wanted something with cheese, so I ordered myself a turkey and cheese sandwich on ciabatta. I can confirm that it hit the spot and was reasonably priced for a hotel pool snack (I forgot to note down the price, sorry!).
The majority of the exchanges I had with the staff at this hotel were nothing more than I’d expect from interactions I’d have with the cashier at a grocery store: pleasant and transactional.
In areas such as the lobby bar and the roof terrace, staffing felt stretched. I mentioned earlier that even during a busier afternoon at the roof, there was just 1 waitress working, which meant she was running around like crazy trying to stay on top of everything. I noticed the same thing another evening at the lobby bar.
Had it not been for my own experience working in a hotel in Barcelona, I might have blamed this on the pandemic. However, it’s often been the case — even in the height of summer and in pre-pandemic times — that hotels (and even restaurants) in Barcelona feel short-staffed, leading to average or even poor customer service.
The silver lining to this small service-shaped cloud over the Alexandra Barcelona Hotel was Marta who greeted me each morning with a smile at breakfast.
We shared some great interactions, and I noticed the same with other guests. I could tell she loved her job and was an asset to the hotel.
Let me conclude first of all by saying that I found my stay at the Alexandra Barcelona Hotel to be a great value for my money.
However, I think the room itself could do with an upgrade to live up to its branding as a suite. The room’s interior was shabby and run-down in places, and no more exciting than a standard hotel room.
The terrace, on the other hand, is an outstanding feature and would be perfect for a romantic stay with a significant other.
So, would I stay again?
For the price I paid, absolutely, though I think I’d try the Modernist Suite next time.