Fodor's Expert Review Grand Hotel Central

Via Laietana 30, Barcelona, Catalonia 08003, Spain See on Map

In what was once the former house where the current owner grew up, today, the Grand Hotel Central is an opulent multi-level five-star city hotel where the guest’s needs and wants are placed above all else. Flashes of the former home can be seen throughout the property from decades old books, antique furnishings, original marble, and a library that’s every writer's dream space. With one of the friendliest staffs you’ll ever meet, you’ll constantly find surprises and free or discounted goodies during your stay, which inevitably will leave you with the desire to return again and again.

Fun fact: this is the first building in Barcelona with an elevator. Another fun fact: if you book your room through their website, they’ll give you access to a free Wi-Fi device that helps keep you online anywhere in the city.


Hardwood floors lead guests into simple and stylish rooms with white-wood headboards, light gray area rugs, giant 8-foot mirrors, colorful throw pillows, and small writing desks. Big window views get bigger the higher you go – but all rooms have exterior vantage points. Inside, you’ll also find a free mini bar (including beer), Nespresso machines (not in standard rooms), and free snacks. There are a lot of perks here!

Another freebee that guests might enjoy is a complimentary shoe-shine.


Well-appointed bathrooms have large, brutally honestly lit mirrors, and a mix of bath/shower combos or separate rain showers. Floors are black slate which contrast nicely against the white marble counter tops. Luxurious Finca Gayeta bath products hail from Mallorca.


At the entry, you’ll notice an uneven marble slab that welcomes you inside – this is the original marble that horse drawn carriages used to ride in on creating the grooves. Once you enter, you’ll be immediately greeted by the uber helpful staff who will glide you around the lobby filled with cushy couches and chairs and a welcome drink at the ready. Off to one side is the Clef D’or concierge station where the immensely well-connected team sits behind antique desks from the family-owners and a classic Byōbu Japanese screen that splits the room. Here is also where you’ll see a part of the owner's vast collection of old books – but this is just a sneak peek.

Make sure you go to the meeting rooms at the top of the hotel. It’s here where the family patriarch built a two-tiered, circular library, where ancient books rest atop meticulously maintained mahogany shelves. It’s a classic space that will inspire the book-worm in any traveler.


Open all year (and heated in the winter), the infinity pool on the rooftop has probably the most spectacular view of any pool in the city. If you have vertigo, don’t look down, but if you don’t, head up here immediately where there are two tiers of loungers that have front row seats to the city below.

YOU SHOULD KNOW The pool is for guests only, but around 8/9pm it opens up to the public for dinner and drinks.


There are two massage cabins in the hotel with a wide range of treatment options like massages, facials, and more with Natura Bissé products. Additionally, there’s a thermal suite which has a separate sauna and steam room. Access to the suite is 80 Euros, but if you’re staying in a suite, you can go for free.


Open from 7 am to 10 pm, the “gym with a view” looks out over the city with large street-side windows. Atop hardwood floors are TechnoGym machines, free weights, and yoga mats. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, the hotel offers complimentary rooftop yoga at 8 am – but if the weather isn’t so magical, they might move the sessions into the super cool library instead.


The City Restaurant is the main dining outlet of the hotel, open for lunch and dinner and serving an array of Catalan and Mediterranean dishes under chic Edison lights and a meticulously designed space. A separate breakfast room has a grand buffet in addition to a la carte menu items – it’s 28.60 Euros – but the hotel offers different packaged discounts if you ask ahead of time.

Another nice feature of the hotel is that if you’re a guest, you get 20% off all food and beverages.


Next to City Restaurant off the lobby is City Bar, a chic space where expert mixologists concoct inventive cocktails in an ever-changing menu. But the real drinking gem of the hotel is on the rooftop by the pool. At night, the poolside loungers are replaced with dinner/drinks tables where a light menu of food items like gazpacho and ceviche is served alongside mixed drinks. Dubbed Sky Bar, it’s one of the coolest pre- or post-dinner drinking dens in town.

YOU SHOULD KNOW If you’re not a guest of the hotel, they charge 20 Euros for entry (though that includes a drink). This cover fee is more of a crowd control thing as the bar gets very popular in the summer. But again, if you’re a guest, or you make a dinner reservation, you don’t have to pay.


Getting Around

The hotel is on Via Laietana, which is a major thoroughfare with easy access to many great parts of the city. With its incredibly central location though, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of the best attractions, museums, restaurants, and bars in Barcelona. Just south of the hotel, about a 3-minute walk is the Jaume I metro stop which can help you get to other attractions like La Sagrada Familia or Park Güell.


If you’re a fan of seafood, make it a point of hitting up Estimar (5-minute walk) for the best fresh fish in the city. For classic Catalonian cuisine, head over to Bib Gourmand Michelin spot Senyor Parellada (5-minute walk), where you’ll find steaming hot paella under original brick arches.


For oenophiles who want a fun, young environment with their vino, check out Bar Brutal (3-minute walk). Cava fans might want to hit up El Xampanyet (5-minute walk), a historic spot that also has amazing food.


Classic, charming, high-end, and great personalized service are the hallmarks of this centrally-located hotel. Literally across the street from the stunning Barcelona Cathedral, you’d be hard pressed to find a more ideal location for getting around the city. Nearby are dozens of amazing restaurants, fun nightlife options, and loads of boutiques and attractions. Inside the hotel, there are always complimentary goodies or discounted amenities that the staff is happy to provide and the food and beverage options are top-notch – especially the rooftop pool and bar. Owned and run by a Barcelona-born family, you can tell that the style, grace, and friendliness comes from the top and trickles down to every aspect of this fantastic hotel.


147 rooms, 14 suites
Breakfast Yes
Lunch Yes
Dinner Yes
Bar Yes
Cafe No
Room Service 24/7
Gym, Pool
Valet Parking


Phones: 93-295–7900

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