Tried & Tested

Hotel check: AC Hotel Barcelona Forum

20 May 2014 by BusinessTraveller

BACKGROUND

AC Hotel Barcelona Forum celebrated its 10th anniversary during my visit in early May, having opened to coincide with the first Universal Forum of Cultures which was held in Barcelona in 2004.

It’s one of seven AC properties in the Catalan capital, with the group counting over 90 hotels within its portfolio across Spain, Portugal and Italy.

In 2010, AC announced a joint venture with Marriott International, rebranding properties under the AC by Marriott name, and enabling guests to earn and redeem points within the Marriott Rewards programme (see news, October 2010).

Last year, AC and Marriott also confirmed plans to bring the AC by Marriott brand to the Americas (see news, June 2013).

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Attached to the Barcelona International Convention Centre, the AC Hotel Barcelona Forum is very much aimed at the corporate and events market, although I did see a fair number of families during my stay.

The high-rise building has a large, minimalist lobby area, with the slate flooring, black and white furniture and metallic reception desk lending a masculine feel to the space. Artwork includes several curved metallic sculptures, and a series of cacti, which on close inspection have been fashioned using cable ties for spikes.

The hotel’s business centre is adjacent to the lobby, and directly above the reception desks is a mezzanine level bar area.

Reception staff were very helpful with enquiries about good vegetarian restaurants, calling several establishments to check opening times and menus / prices, and in general the hotel seemed well staffed.

When I checked out I noticed that there was a separate desk for Emirates cabin crew – the carrier recently rostered one of its A380m superjumbos onto the Dubai-Barcelona route (see news, July 2013).

WHERE IS IT?

To the north east of Barcelona’s city centre, in a business district known as ‘Diagonal Mar’ or simply ‘Forum’. The hotel is within walking distance of the El Maresme Forum stop on the city’s Metro network (with direct links to the city centre) and the area is also served by Barcelona’s tram system.

The city’s museum of natural sciences – El Museu Blau (‘The Blue Museum’) – is housed within a modern building opposite the hotel, and it is possible to walk along Barcelona’s beachfront all the way from the hotel to the city’s Port Olympic area (where Ritz Carlton’s Hotel Arts is located, along with Frank Gehry’s shimmering fish sculpture), and onwards to the W Barcelona. The hotel is also next to the large Diagonal Mar shopping centre.

ROOM FACILITIES

The AC Standard category accounts for the vast majority of the rooms at the hotel, with facilities including twin or queen-size beds, air conditioning, combined bathtub and shower, workdesk, armchair, CD player, iron and ironing board (on request), tea and coffee facilities, and wifi internet access (charged at €6.50 for one hour or €12 for 24 hours). View are either towards the sea, or back over the city.

AC Superior rooms and above have king-size beds, and additional amenities such as bathrobes and slippers, while junior suites have a separate living area, and suites are located on the corners between floors 15 and 22, and have double size spa baths and Nespresso machines. Decor is smart, with traditional marble bathrooms, and beige and dark brown being the predominant colour scheme.

Standard room at the AC Hotel Barcelona Forum

Suite at the AC Hotel Barcelona Forum

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The hotel’s main Dia i Nit restaurant is located on the fourth floor, and serves Mediterranean dishes including veal cannelloni, wild mushroom risotto, and Iberian ham with the ubiquitous tomato and garlic-rubbed bruscheta.

Breakfast is served here, and there was an extensive buffet choice including cereals, pastries, fresh fruit, toasties, sandwiches, hot and cold meats, and Spanish omelette. There is also a Nespresso coffee machine, but be warned that the queues for this can be long during busy periods.

Bizarrely given the name of the restaurant (‘Day and Night’), it was closed when I  visited one evening – I was told that during quiet times, meals are served in the first floor mezzanine bar, but that guests can still order from the main restaurant menu, and it is prepared in the restaurant kitchens and brought down to the bar.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The hotel has a total of 2,100 sqm of meeting space across 18 rooms, split across the 3rd, 4th and 14th floors. Most of the spaces are named after Barcelona districts, with the largest being the 498 sqm Sagrada Familia, which can hold up to 600 people for a cocktail event, and has a pre-function area.

All of the meeting rooms on the 14th floor have natural daylight, and range in capacity from 10 to 60m guests depending on layout. The 3rd floor houses larger rooms including the 176 sqm ’22@’, which is the only space on this floor with natural daylight and can hold up to 195 guests. In keeping with the rest of the property, décor in the meeting rooms is smart and masculine, with many having black walls and chairs upholstered in red fabric.

For full details on the meeting spaces available at this hotel, click here, and for more information on the adjacent Barcelona International Convention Centre, click here.

Wifi is available throughout the hotel, and is free in the lobby area, Dia i Nit restaurant and El Cafe. The ground floor business centre is open 24 hours a day, and internet access is free for guests obtaining a code from reception. Facilities include half a dozen PCs, and a printer from which I printed out my boarding passes for my return flight.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The 13th floor of the property is dedicated to the hotel’s leisure facilities, with an open plan gym looking out towards the sea, two spa treatment rooms, and three spa baths in a glass-walled room overlooking the city.

Past these is Natura cafe (open during the summer months only), with outdoor decking surrounding a swimming pool. It’s a lovely area to sit and enjoy the Catalan sunshine, although it can get quite windy up there, and trying to get a sunbed during the afternoon was near impossible.

VERDICT

A modern hotel with extensive business and leisure facilities, and helpful staff. It might not suit those looking for a city centre location, but is ideal for those needing to be based in or around the Forum area of the city.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 368, of which 320 are AC Standard, eight are AC Business (also known as AC Superior), 32 are AC Junior Suites, and eight are AC Suites.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The 13th floor leisure area, with its outdoor pool, and spa baths overlooking the city.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in June started from €180 for an AC Standard room.
  • CONTACT AC Hotel Barcelona Forum, 278 Paseo Taulat, 08019 Barcelona; tel: +34 934 898 200; ac-hotels.com

Mark Caswell
 

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