Built in 1992 and previously known as the Fira Palace Hotel, this 276-room hotel was rebranded as the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre in 2014 – the first property under the IHG full-service brand in the Catalan capital.
All of the hotel’s rooms were refurbished in 2013, and more recently a new club lounge, and revamped gym and wellness centre have been added.
The name of the hotel refers to Fira Barcelona, a large trade fair and events complex – one half of which is located next to the hotel (the other half is situated about 3.5km away on Gran Via).
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The entrance to the property is on a relatively quiet road to the back of Fira Barcelona, and inside the spacious (if a little dull) lobby area has a bank of comfortable sofas next to the hotel’s restaurants. Just past reception is a 24-hour business centre, and further back is a large lobby / piano bar.
When I arrived at around 1730 on a Friday evening the lobby was pretty much deserted, and two members of staff were on hand on the reception desk. They were able to give me detailed walking directions to an event I was attending later that evening, which was appreciated as it’s not an area of Barcelona I know well.
There is a self-service “Run” counter just by the main doors, offering free bottles of water, fruit and jogging maps of the nearby area – I didn’t get a chance to go for a run during this stay, but the water was welcome on what was a hot weekend in late August.
WHERE IS IT?
Around five minutes’ walk from Plaza Espana, which conveniently is the first stop on the Aerobus shuttle route from Barcelona’s El Prat airport. The square also has direct links to the city centre via the red L1 line of the city’s Metro network.
Apart from Fira Barcelona, this area is also home to MNAC – the National Museum of Catalan art, housed within the Spanish Renaissance-inspired Palau Nacional on Montjuic hill. Adjacent to Plaza Espana a former bullring, built in Moorish Revival style, has been converted into a large shopping centre.
Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre claims to have the largest standard rooms of any hotel in the city at around 44sqm, and they certainly feel spacious. As you enter there is a hallway with cupboard space, which can be closed off from the rest of the bedroom, and off which is the bathroom with separate bathtub and a powerful walk-in shower.
Rooms have either a king-size or two queen beds, and features include a huge 55-inch smart TV which can display internet content, a large desk area, a reclining leather armchair and ottoman, a separate coffee table and armchair, a Krups Nespresso machine, kettle and tea / coffee facilities, minibar, large safe, iron, and a full-length mirror in the bedroom with lighting down the sides.
Decor is mainly browns and beiges, with purple accents picking out the Crowne Plaza branding. Overall I was impressed by the room facilities, with plenty of space to spread out, easy-to-use technology, and an extremely comfortable reclining armchair to relax in.
There is free wifi throughout the hotel, and the only difference between standard and executive rooms is the upgraded bathroom amenities, and access to the club lounge (see below for details).
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
All of the hotel’s restaurants and bars are located on the ground floor off the lobby. The modern L’Aria is open for breakfast only, and this is where I ate on my first morning at the hotel.
In addition to a made-to-order omelette station, there was a large buffet selection from cereals and pastries, to hot and cold breakfast dishes, fresh fruit and juices (and cava for those so inclined) all immaculately presented on several island counters (repeated on both sides of the restaurant to avoid queuing).
Tea and coffee was offered as soon as I sat down, and staff were attentive at taking away used plates and packaging, and topping up counters, despite the restaurant being busy on this Saturday morning.
The following day I had breakfast at the club lounge, which was opened in 2014 as part of the refurbishment programme. Breakfast choices were basically the same here, albeit on a smaller scale, and without the omelette station. The lounge was very quiet when I visited, and had a calming feel away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of L'Aria restaurant.
Lounge features include a choice of dining and lounge seating, including a large dining table capable of seating around eight people, free drinks and snacks available throughout the day including a Nespresso coffee machine, a large flatscreen TV, and printing facilities via the lounge reception.
The hotel’s main restaurant El Mall is open for lunch and dinner, and serves Mediterranean dishes (as well as Japanese sushi nights) in a traditional setting with exposed brick walls, a vaulted ceiling and large windows looking out onto the street.
Meanwhile the lounge bar is located at the back of the hotel behind the lobby, and features a centrepiece grand piano around which has been created a curved counter at which guests can sit and listen to the music close at hand.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
At around 3,000 sqm of meetings space, the hotel has the largest MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities of any European Crowne Plaza property.
There are a total of 18 rooms split across the basement, ground and mezzanine floors of the hotel. The largest Verdi ballroom is pillarless and can accommodate up to 900 guests for a cocktail reception. Other options include a covered courtyard “garden” for banquets and receptions, and the smartly refurbished Club Palace boardroom which can accommodate up to ten delegates.
For more details and an interactive floor plan, click here.
The 24-hour business centre next to reception has eight Apple Mac computers and printing facilities – my British Airways mobile app had for some reason not been able to access my boarding pass for my return journey, and I was able to print this off quickly and easily.
Wifi internet access is free throughout the hotel.
The hotel’s gym was recently refurbished, and has the latest Technogym equipment with screens allowing access to TV programmes and the internet.
There is also a new wellness centre with indoor pool, spa bath, sauna, hammam and six spa treatment rooms. Note though that guest access to the facilities is charged at €25 per day, unless a treatment is booked.
It may not have a city centre or beach location, but the Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre is conveniently situated for travel to and from the airport, and for those looking to explore the Montjuic area. Room sizes are impressive, as are the powerful walk-in showers.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 276, of which 18 are suites and 75 are executive rooms
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS Large rooms, great showers and comfortable reclining armchairs
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in a in November started from €145
- CONTACT Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Centre, Avenida Rius I Taulet 1-3, Barcelona, 8004; tel +34 93 426 2223; crowneplazabarcelona.com