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Review: W Barcelona, a Marriott Bonvoy hotel

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This is our review of the W Hotel in Barcelona.

It is the first part of our review trip to Barcelona and Madrid in partnership with Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott provided the hotel stays but we paid for all other expenses, including flights and testing.

The W Barcelona is possibly the most iconic hotel in Barcelona given its size and location on the beach front. The sail-like building rises out at the port end of Sant Sebastia beach and is reminiscent of the Burj al Arab in Dubai, albeit clad soley in shimmering blue glass:

W Barcelona

Barcelona has very few tall glass buildings, so W Barcelona makes a statement and is a landmark in its own right. It is also one of the very few hotels with beach access – another is the Hotel Arts, a Ritz Carlton-managed hotel, which Rob reviewed a couple of years ago.

The hotel website is here. Our guide to W Hotels is here.

Location

As mentioned above, the W Barcelona perches on the spit at the southernmost tip of Barcelona’s run of beaches:

W Barcelona location

Whilst it is a fantastic location, it does mean you are quite far removed from the historical core of Barcelona. There is no metro service near the hotel so you are stuck with buses or taxis.

(Barcelona has a bit of a tourist transport problem. The metro is not amazing and, whilst they have bike rental system like the Santander Cycles in London, these are only accessible for residents. There are no e-scooter rental companies like Lime or Bird. It is not particularly convenient to get around, especially considering that many of the sights are spread out across a large area.)

On the other hand you are right on the beach and can take the cable car across the harbour to Montjuic.

W Barcelona lobby swings

Check in

Arrival at the W Barcelona is surprisingly, well, plain. There is no grand entrance, unlike at the W Ibiza, just a couple of revolving doors set into the glass extension of the hotel. It is remarkably understated for a W.

W Barcelona entrance

Porters are immediately on hand to greet you and take your luggage before check-in.

The hotel was extremely busy when I arrived. I was told it was at 100% occupancy that weekend. The queues were much longer when I checked in:

W Barcelona reception

In the end, I had to queue for at least 45 minutes. Reception was clearly understaffed – there were just three staff members – and for some reason it seemed like they spent an extremely long time with each guest.

My room, and indeed many of the rooms, weren’t ready at check in which meant a further wait, albeit at the pool or bar.

The hotel really struggled to handle the amount of guests arriving. I’m not sure if Barcelona is suffering from the same hospitality staffing shortage as in the UK and elsewhere. It has been a hard year for hotels, who have had to contend with massive flip-flopping of travel rules and in many cases massive jumps in occupancy and last minute booking which make it really hard to plan ahead. Guests were getting visibly frustrated, and it is certainly not the level of service I imagine the hotel hopes to give.

Rooms at W Barcelona

There are over 400 rooms at the W Barcelona, which makes it one of the larger Ws around. (In contrast, W Ibiza has around 150 rooms.) The vast majority of rooms are in the main ‘sail’ building, although there are several floors of rooms in the shorter adjoining building around the atrium.

W Barcelona atrium

In the main building a central corridor bisects the building, with guest rooms off the left and right. The corridor is blood red:

W Barcelona corridor

I was given a ‘Fabulous Sky Room’ with two beds and a view of the Barcelona skyline. The room is large:

W Barcelona twin room

…. with an open plan bedroom bathroom. It can be partly separated with a half-width curtain:

W Barcelona beds

The toilet and shower are behind frosted glass, and there is a dual head shower:

W Barcelona shower

Toiletries are MOMO branded, which has been in use at W hotels for a year or two now. You get a large 100ml bottle of shower gel and half-measures of shampoo and conditioner:

W Barcelona Momo toiletries

I really like the bottles which are made of a softer plastic, making them easier to squeeze. You also get the accompanying Skin Regimen:

W Barcelona skin regimen

…. although the facial cleanser is notably missing. However, I called up reception and they were happy to send one up to me.

Opposite the bathroom you’ll find several wardrobes including safe, ironing board, and mini bar:

W Barcelona Nespresso machine

The fridge is fully stocked and chargeable, and you also get larger bottles of spirits and snacks in a pod in the room:

W Barcelona minibar pod

Apart from the carpet the room is suprisingly plain for a W, with lots of white. Along the wall is a console and desk with more than enough room to spread out:

W Barcelona TV

Finally, a chaise-longue and armchair are against the floor to ceiling windows which have a spectacular view:

W Barcelona chaiselongue

Look closely and you can spot the Sagrada Familia:

W Barcelona view

All things considered the rooms are surpisingly understated, with just the carpet adding a splash of character to the rooms. I suppose there’s no point competing with that view ….

Gym, pools and beach

W Barcelona has two pools (or ‘Wet Decks’ as W Hotels likes to call them) as well as a beach club. The main pool faces the beach and gets sun throughout the day. The second pool is further east and gets overshadowed late afternoon as the sun sets in the west.

W Barcelona Wet Deck pool

Neither pool is particularly big given the size of the hotel, although there are a lot of loungers.

W Barcelona loungers

The pool staff were not terribly useful. On two ocassions I asked them for a towel and they said they didn’t have any, without offering to find me some or tell me where I could go to get some. A little proactivity could go a long way.

W Barcelona pool

To access the beach you take the stairs down from the hotel atrium / pool level to ground level. The beach club is just opposite the hotel across the promenade. Again, this area is not the biggest considering the size of the hotel and it is operated on a first-come first-served basis.

If you don’t get a deck chair you can always spread yourself out on the many, many kilometres of beach.

The beach club doesn’t have water access as it is just behind a low breakwater. It is a 30 metre walk around to get into the sea. This is a slightly more relaxed crowd whilst the pools are sometimes surrounded by what feels like a TOWIE casting call ….

SPA by W Barcelona

As you’d expect there’s also a spa. It is lovely and quiet given most people will want to be outside – and when it is 35 degrees you don’t need a sauna!

You get a heated pool and jacuzzi:

W Barcelona spa pool

and

W Barcelona spa jacuzzi

As well as steam room, sauna and resting area:

W Barcelona spa loungers

Whilst most hotel saunas are sadly on the cooler side, these were hot and very spacious.

Dining at the W Barcelona

W Barcelona has several different restaurants and bars. A number of these are on the ground floor by the promenade, underneath the hotel so to speak. This includes SALT, the beach club restaurant and one of the more casual restaurants at the hotel:

W Barcelona Salt

and

W Barcelona Salt table

It is mostly tapas focussed and we shared the Salmorejo (a cold soup like gazpacho), calamari, croquetas, garlic prawns and heritage tomato salad.

W Barcelona Salt calamari croquettes

We finished off with a dessert of ‘watermelon osmotized in vermouth rosso with mango sorbet’:

W Barcelona Salt melon dessert

FIRE at W Barcelona

We also dined at FIRE, which is the fine-dining restaurant at the hotel and overlooks the main pool:

W Barcelona Fire restaurant 2

The menu here comprises mosty of steak and seafood and the menu also includes items from guest chefs.

The meal starts with an amuse bouche, in this case a watermelon gazpacho:

W Barcelona Fire amusebouche

I had the steak tartare to start:

W Barcelona Fire steak tartare

Followed by the lobster:

W Barcelona FIRE lobster

To round off, I had a peachy chocolatey dessert:

W Barcelona FIRE peach dessert

Service at both SALT and FIRE was excellent and outshone the rest of the service at the hotel which was patchy at best.

Breakfast

Breakfast is served at FIRE with a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating:

W Barcelona Fire restaurant

There is a buffet, although it is currently staffed due to covid:

W Barcelona breakfast buffet

…. and here is the hot buffet:

W Barcelona breakfast buffet hot

A range of juices, smoothies and yoghurts are also available:

W Barcelona breakfast juices yoghurts

There is also an a la carte menu which includes avocado toast, pancakes, eggs benedict and other fresh egg dishes.

Conclusion

W Barcelona is clearly doing something right given the huge diversity of guests, from older couples to young families and those who think they should be on Love Island.

After the W Ibiza I was expecting something a bit flashier. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it broadens the appeal of the hotel.

W Barcelona is a great base if you plan to spend more of your time soaking up the sun by the beach and pool whilst making the ocassional trip to see the sights. There is enough variety at the hotel that you can easily spend several days here, walking up and down the promenade to catch a few of the other restaurants in the area. You also get those unbeatable views across Barcelona.

If you plan an activity-packed stay then you may want to be somewhere a little more central such as the new EDITION Barcelona. This is the next stop in this review series in a day or so.

The W Barcelona hotel is a Category 8 hotel which means you need between 70,000 and 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, depending on seasonality. Cash rates start at €283 for a midweek night in September, meaning that cash is possibly the best option given our target 0.5p valuation per Bonvoy point.

You can find out more, and book, on the hotel website here.


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Comments (73)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Michael C says:

    I went to the soft-opening party here (way back when…), and from that and other visits, Rhys’ review is pretty much spot-on.
    The bar was always buzzing (well, it was packed and free at first…) but the rooms didn’t reflect that “fun”.
    Also to be noted that not many areas are reserved for hotel guests, so orange-skinned ones can pretty much take over the place on any given day!
    I personally wouldn’t choose the location as it’s so out on a limb for anything else in the city, but would fully understand anyone wanting a break by waking up to the views.
    Great review as always!

  • Dann says:

    In the article it says Barcelona doesn’t have rental scooters, but it definately does. I rented one out last time I was there using the app.

  • ChrisW says:

    I’ve always found Barcelona as a whole to be a very overrated tourist trap destination and this hotel confirms my feelings.

    • GJB says:

      Agreed, it’s a lovely place but not tourist friendly at all.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Here’s a secret – don’t go to the main tourist areas (eg las ramblas) and you’ll find it isnt a tourist trap. Same as any big city! (How many Londoners choose to visit Leicester Square…)

  • DM says:

    We visited Barcelona a few weeks back and visited the W Wet Deck for drinks one evening to join a friend who was staying in house. The hotel was absolutely heaving which made it atmospheric in these strange times, however meant the service was slow and patchy. When the drinks did show up they felt pretty over priced, not to mention the shisha I ordered from a menu without prices only to find it cost just under €100 when the bill came. Firmly 5* prices with a crowd happy to pay them. Was it worth €200 for a round of drinks and a shisha, no. But it was a memorable night with a good atmosphere which is typically what you want from a holiday so I’ll let it go this time.

    • John T says:

      I am forever spoilt by having shisha in Morocco and Egypt for all of about £1.

  • Harry T says:

    I had quite a nice stay here in July – it was pretty busy then too. Most of the people who frequent the hotel are awful but the staff were very helpful and responsive. My SNAs cleared into a very large and quiet studio suite. The breakfast was very good. It’s pleasant to walk along the beach in the evening. The EDITION is a much more conveniently located hotel for most of the traditional tourist sites but the W can’t be beaten for the beach.

  • JDB says:

    The thought of waiting 45mins to check in puts me off pretty much completely, and when you add the tiny pool and the odd concept of no water access from the beach this wouldn’t work for us.

    • AJA says:

      I agree with you. Just because this is beach front does not mean it should not have a decent pool. As for 45 minutes to check in – that is a disgrace! I do hope they provided seating, standing for 10 minutes is bad enough but anything longer is not good. The small odd seating area looks like it would have been fully occupied very very quickly. It smacks of (a lack of) style over substance, that red in the corridor would give me a headache.

      Thank you for the interesting review Rhys, this means I won’t waste my money by booking here.

      Barcelona seems to have a love-hate relationship with visitors and is trying to put people off. That said if the hotel was 100% occupancy people are still travelling there.

      • Rob says:

        Don’t underestimate the convenience factor. Virtually every UK airport has flights to Barcelona. Oddly, beachwise, even Palma struggles to beat the Barcelona beach and there you would be stuck in a resort – rubbish for a short break.

        Where else can you fly to so easily, which has such a good beach and has a huge amount of culture / shopping 5 minutes away?

        • John T says:

          The main city beach in Barcelona is HIDEOUS. Dirty, crowded, ten different types of annoying music competing with each other, the adults screaming louder than the kids. endless aggressive touts on the beach who will kick your foot to get your attention.

          Surely flying to Alicante or Malaga provides plenty of better beach options?

          Barcelona seems popular with people who haven’t travelled around Europe much and proclaim Barcelona to be ‘the best city in Europe’. Even though it doesn’t have a beach, Seville is 100 better than Barcelona as a Spanish city,

          • Rhys says:

            If you’re going JUST for a beach then yes, obviously Barcelona is not top of the list. But there are few other cities around the world that can offer a (decent) beach whilst also offering signficant cultural sightseeing. Barcelona is even more unique when you consider it is the epicentre for all of the Gaudi stuff too.

          • Rob says:

            And how many UK regional airports fly to Seville?

            Alicante and Malaga are not set up for the weekend break market.

            And I’d be shocked if any tout can be bothered to walk a mile or so down the beach to the W bit!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Valencia is the best Spanish beach I’ve ever visited and a lovely city with a lovely river basin gardens etc but to Robs pointed not well served with UK flights

          • ken says:

            Agree 100%

            First went to Barcelona 20 years ago and never felt the desire to go back. Love Gaudi, and loved the gothic quarter & that’s about it
            La Rambla was hideous and can’t imagine its got better. Like the very worse parts of London or Paris but sunny.

            Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, Santiago – can’t imagine not re-visiting them.

      • John T says:

        @ AJA – After Barcelona hosted the Summer Olympics in 1992 it became an easy and popular destination to visit and its profile was raised and its infrastructure was improved (fancy new airport terminal etc).

        I agree the locals seem to have a love-hate relationship with the tourists. Don’t seem to want them flooding in but don’t have any other option. Catalonia wants to become its own country but the average tourist doesn’t care about the plight of the locals regarding this.

  • Patrycja says:

    We are checking in on Saturday for 4 nights, meeting friends in Barcelona. Given it’s our 4th trip to Barcelona, I am looking forward to relaxing on the beach

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Little tip – if you want to beach away from the tourists, walk away from Barceloneta beach. The further you go, the nicer the beaches (go past port olimpic). Or if you wanted adventure, take the frequent train north up the coast for more beaches. Enjoy your trip!

  • Tracey says:

    Am I the only one that finds a frosted door to the toilet straight into the bedroom a little off putting?

    • Sandra B says:

      No. I hate that and can’t understand why it’s a feature. Each to their own of course but I find it a negative feature in any hotel and would avoid unless travelling alone.

    • MD says:

      Not the only one. W hotels seem to like bathrooms with little to no privacy. An absolute hard pass from me! And that’s before even factoring in the apparently awful clientele. The whole place sounds dreadful.

    • Pete M says:

      I hate (luxury) hotels with sinks in the bedroom – feels very Super 8 motel to me, especially when there is no separation or a dingy curtain!

      • AnotherUser says:

        Never stayed in this hotel, but when done well it can make the room feel more open/spacious. If you’re travelling with another person, it depends on your privacy preferences of course!

      • HBommie says:

        +1 had one recently in Palma, hotel and rooms were very nice but the bathroom was a fail.

    • WaynedP says:

      Amuses me no end how Mrs dP needs a day or two before she can “relax” enough in a new / strange bathroom to make full use of the facilities.

      For my part, growing up and spending school holidays with my brother and groups of our six all-male cousins meant privacy was non-existent and shared baths/showers/toilets the norm.

      Military conscription “bush phase” toilets were a sociable affair of four temporary moulded pipes together in the ground within a canvas wine-break that lacked any internal separation. A common toilet roll was tossed from one to the other over casual conversation. Modesty an unaffordable and unnecessary luxury.

      Result is I am able to shuck my shorts and answer nature’s call anywhere, anytime, and in conversation with anyone who’s good company 😆

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