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:
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.
As mentioned above, the W Barcelona perches on the spit at the southernmost tip of Barcelona’s run of beaches:
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.
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.
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:
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.
In the main building a central corridor bisects the building, with guest rooms off the left and right. The corridor is blood red:
I was given a ‘Fabulous Sky Room’ with two beds and a view of the Barcelona skyline. The room is large:
…. with an open plan bedroom bathroom. It can be partly separated with a half-width curtain:
The toilet and shower are behind frosted glass, and there is a dual head 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:
I really like the bottles which are made of a softer plastic, making them easier to squeeze. You also get the accompanying 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:
The fridge is fully stocked and chargeable, and you also get larger bottles of spirits and snacks in a pod in the room:
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:
Finally, a chaise-longue and armchair are against the floor to ceiling windows which have a spectacular view:
Look closely and you can spot the Sagrada Familia:
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.
Neither pool is particularly big given the size of the hotel, although there are a lot of 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.
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:
As well as steam room, sauna and resting area:
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:
It is mostly tapas focussed and we shared the Salmorejo (a cold soup like gazpacho), calamari, croquetas, garlic prawns and heritage tomato salad.
We finished off with a dessert of ‘watermelon osmotized in vermouth rosso with mango sorbet’:
FIRE at W Barcelona
We also dined at FIRE, which is the fine-dining restaurant at the hotel and overlooks the main pool:
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:
I had the steak tartare to start:
Followed by the lobster:
To round off, I had a peachy chocolatey 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 is served at FIRE with a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating:
There is a buffet, although it is currently staffed due to covid:
…. and here is the hot buffet:
A range of juices, smoothies and yoghurts are also available:
There is also an a la carte menu which includes avocado toast, pancakes, eggs benedict and other fresh egg dishes.
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.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (October 2021)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)