Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Alexandra Barcelona, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel

30 May 2014 by BusinessTraveller

BACKGROUND

Formerly known as the Alexandra Barcelona Hotel, and owned by the Diagonal Hotels group (which also counts the Mercure Alberta Barcelona, and the Mercure Augusta Barcelona Valles within its portfolio), the property has recently finished an extensive renovation programme, and was subsequently rebranded under Hilton’s Doubletree offering late last year (see news December 2013).

The hotel is the first Doubletree property in central Barcelona (a second property is located 25 minutes outside of the city), and the third in Spain (the other being on the Costa Brava), with a fourth hotel in Girona set to join the brand later this year. Hilton also has two properties in Barcelona under its Hilton Hotels and Resorts brand – one at either end of the city’s main Avinguda Diagonal.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The refurbishment project was headed up by Barcelona-based Borrell Architects, and the firm’s influence can be seen in details like the library of weighty-looking books on architecture and design in the hotel’s lobby area. This light, welcoming space has been opened up with a new glass frontage, and has some extremely comfortable lounge seating if you find yourself waiting to meet someone.

The refurbishment has created a boutique, design-led hotel – I lost count of the number of different types of different styles of lamps and lightshades I saw during my show around, but alongside these modern design elements some of the hotel’s original features have been retained, including mosaic flooring in selected guest rooms.

The hotel feels like an independent, boutique property, but with Doubletree by Hilton brand standards such as the warm cookie for every guest on arrival, and in-room amenities including the Doubletree Sweet Dreams bed.

WHERE IS IT?

On Calle Mallorca, a few steps from the city’s Passeig de Gracia, famous for its high-end shopping and Barcelona’s iconic Gaudi architecture including Casa Batllo and Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera, or ‘The Quarry’).

The hotel is within easy walking distance of both the Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia stops on the city’s Metro network, the latter of which has a rail link to Barcelona’s airport.

ROOM FACILITIES

All rooms have parquet flooring (or original mosaic tiles), free wifi, the Doubletree Sweet Dreams bed, 37-inch LCD flatscreen TV, air conditioning, a laptop sized safe, workdesk, mini bar, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities (or Nespresso machine in the suites).

Queen guest rooms average 23 sqm and have queen-size or twin beds, and either a walk-in shower or combined bathtub and shower depending on the room layout. Superior rooms (24 sqm) have king-sized beds, while King Deluxe rooms are larger (24-30 sqm) and have a balcony.

I was staying in a junior suite (average size 34 sqm), which had an open plan bedroom and living area, and a large outdoor terrace with a huge bathtub. It was lovely to relax in a bath in the Barcelona sunshine, although it did seem slightly strange knowing that there were buildings directly opposite, with terraces at the same height and not a whole lot of cover (thankfully with no-one on them at the time).

Decor varies between rooms, but in general the colour scheme is muted, with greys and beiges being interspersed with the occasional splashes of orange from chairs or lampshades. Furniture and fittings all felt well-made, and in general the rooms felt well designed, although I did have one gripe with the bathroom – the only hanging space of any kind (for bath towels, bathrobes, etc), was in the toilet cubicle, which felt very odd.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The hotel’s Da Luca restaurant is located on the mezzanine floor and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffet breakfast choice included hot dishes such as sausages, bacon, fried and scrambled eggs, as well as cheese and cold meats, fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurts and pastries.

Staff were extremely attentive, offering us orange juice as soon as we sat down, and taking orders for tea, coffee or hot chocolate, with refills being offered several times. If anything they were slightly too keen to take away bowls and plates as soon as food was finished, creating a slightly rushed atmosphere, and leading to me having to request more cutlery several times (although that’s perhaps partly my fault for insisting on having a four-course breakfast).

We didn’t eat in the restaurant for dinner, but I was told that the menu consisted of Italian and Mediterranean dishes, including homemade pasta.

Da Luca Cafe Bar is located on the ground floor in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, and serves drinks and snacks – we visited one evening before dinner, and the TV in the bar was showing the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Madrid were winning 4-0, which was not going down particularly well with the Catalan audience.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The hotel’s meetings spaces are dubbed “The Elastic Rooms”, referring to their flexibility of use. The largest room – Forum A – is 120 sqm, has natural daylight and can accommodate between 44 and 120 people depending on layout.

Forum B measures 82 sqm and can hold up to 80 guests, while Forum C is 110 sqm and holds up to 100 people – neither of these rooms have natural daylight. The Da Luca private room is located off the restaurant and can accommodate up to 30 people for a banquet, and there is also a smaller boardroom-style space for up to 20 guests.

Wifi internet access is free throughout the hotel, and there are two Apple Mac computers and a printer in the lobby area for guest use.

LEISURE FACILITIES

There is a fairly modest fitness centre on the 1st floor (one of the rooms featuring the original tile flooring), with a running machine, cross trainer and exercise bike, as well as an adjacent Finnish dry sauna, and a massage treatment room.

VERDICT

The recent refurbishment has created a modern boutique hotel, and the rooms and lobby area in particular have been particularly well designed. Leisure facilities are fairly limited, but the hotel’s location right in the heart of the city means guests will no doubt be out and about exploring during their down time.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 116, of which 29 are standard guest rooms, 63 are superior rooms, 16 are deluxe rooms, and eight are suites
  • HIGHLIGHTS The welcoming lobby area, the free wifi throughout the hotel, and of course the fantastic location off Passeig de Gracia
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in a Superior room in July started from €175
  • CONTACT Alexandra Hotel a Doubletree by Hilton, Calle Mallorca 251, 08008, Barcelona; tel: +34 93 467 71 66; doubletree.com

Mark Caswell

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