One of the best ways to get to know a destination is by mingling in the with the people in a neighborhood. Shopping were residents shop. Eating where residents eat. In short, living in the neighborhood as if you were a resident.
That’s the philosophy behind Eric Vokel boutique apartments in Barcelona, Spain. Each apartment is personally designed and decorated by their namesake, an architect from Copenhagen who became captivated with Barcelona and chose to move there. The city of Barcelona may be all hot and steamy Mediterranean outside, but step inside your apartment and your stay is all sleek and cool Nordic styling.
I stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment at the Eric Vokel Gran Via Suites located in a lively neigborhood just down the street from the shopping plaza, Arenas de Barcelona. The building has 29 apartments available for rent, ranging from one to four bedrooms, and one and two bathrooms.
Step inside the ornate doors to the building, and you’ll find a bright waiting area, with the reception area to the side. There is a computer in the lobby for guest use. Reception is fully staffed and able to accommodate late night arrivals, and they were very kind as we drug ourselves in after a long couple of weeks of traveling.
These are fully outfitted apartments, complete with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, living room, large screen television, free wifi, and plenty of space. Bedding, towels, the usual bathrooms ameneties, are all provided. And in a wonderful touch of hospitality, a bottle of wine and a light snack was waiting for our arrival. (I don’t know if that’s a standard amenity, or a little something extra, but other guests have reported the same welcome hospitality.) It’s the best of both worlds – the convenience of a hotel room and the convenience of an apartment.
The interior is done in wood and lot of white and cream, everything sleek and functional without any clutter. Everything seems right where it’s supposed to be, and if you throw a jacket on a chair it feels glaringly out of place.
We opted to sleep in the bedroom that faced onto Gran Via. The view of the street and architecture charmed me, and I enjoyed having a glass of wine and looking out the window as day turned to night. The room was well insulated and noise levels weren’t a problem. The room was fairly spartan, in keeping with the Nordic design, but the bed was comfortable, the lighting good, and bedside plug-ins were handy.
The second bedroom was on the opposite side of the apartment, with a small window facing onto a terrace garden area. There was no significant difference in size or decor, our choice was solely based on what was outside the window.
The apartments are located within walking distace to many of the area’s top sites: Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and Plaza Cataluna. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are plentiful – go wandering and see what you discover, there are several great choices on the rooftop of the Arenas de Barcelona (in photo), a former bull ring that is now a shopping center, or ask the concierge in reception for suggestions. It feels like you belong in the neighborhood.
A metro stop is located on the corner giving you easy access to the rest of the city. Cabs are plentiful if you prefer. Our cab ride back to the airport in the wee hours of the morning was 7 Euros.
There are many reasons to choose an apartment stay over a hotel stay, and Eric Vokel Gran Via Suites has them all in spades – plenty of room, cooking facilities when you want to dine it, a washer and dryer to launder your clothes, and a great location. We stayed two nights and wished we had time to stay longer.
The Eric Vokel Gran Via Suites is located at Gran Via 464. Rates for a 2-bedroom aapartment start at around $175/night. There are two other Eric Vokel apartment buildings in Barcelona, and three additional properties in Madrid. Plans call for additional properties in Amsterdam and New York to open soon.
All photos courtesy of the author. The author received a complimentary stay at the Gran Via Suites.