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Review 1317: Friendly Rentals, El Greco apartment


Review by Kaydee from TN who is a SlowTrav Contributor

2bed/1bath apartment in Barcelona, Bari Gòtic, Barcelona


February 2005, Four nights


We had planned to spend four days in Barcelona during the six months we were living in Provence, France. I had never been to Barcelona and didn’t really know anything about it. I started off looking for a hotel and couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for — an interesting place with character, conveniently-located, at a reasonable price. Then — based on a posting on the message board — I found a rental agency called Friendly Rentals with a wide variety of apartments in Barcelona. Most of their apartments had a three-night minimum; at the time of our visit (mid February), most of the apartments also had a 10-20% discount for the off-season rental. We paid 126 euro a night for three people.

The agency website is excellent. I exchanged several messages with representatives who were fluent in English and very helpful. (I suspect actually based on the names — e.g. Fiona — that most are English.) I would have been happy with several of the apartments. We ended up renting the El Greco apartment and were absolutely delighted with everything about this apartment — as well as Barcelona!

El Greco is located in the Bari Gòtic on a tiny side street/alley (Amargos), just a few steps away from the narrow pedestrian shopping street of Carrer Comtal. We enjoyed visiting the various shops on this street, and there are several bakeries. My husband went out every morning and came back with assorted baked goods for our breakfast. The apartment is two minutes from the Palau de la Música and only five minutes from Plaça de Catalunya, the Museu Picasso, the Barcelona Cathedral and the top of La Rambla. (These are all must-do’s in Barcelona — walk over to the spectacular Palau de la Música and buy your tickets for an English-tour of the interior as soon as you arrive ... we found the tours book up and you can’t just walk up and get to go.) We thought the location was absolutely ideal — quiet and safe, yet extremely convenient.

The apartment is owned by a young Englishman named Adam, who lives in Barcelona. We phoned Adam when we arrived in Barcelona (we dropped off a car at the airport), took a taxi into the city (about 20 minutes), and met him on a corner near the apartment. Adam also met us back at the apartment at a prearranged time when we left.

We paid a deposit on a credit card to the agency, and then paid Adam the balance in cash along with a 200 euro damage deposit, which was returned when we left. There was a 30 euro cleaning fee, regardless of the length of the rental. The apartment can also be rented directly from Adam at: www.puertopollensa.com

The apartment is on what I would consider the third floor of a small apartment building. The sign outside our door said "Premiere" floor, but we went up two flights of stairs from the entry foyer. There is no elevator. The building and the apartment are very well secured.

The apartment is wonderful; very spacious, very clean, high ceilings, newly-renovated, newly-decorated, newly-furnished, quite contemporary and very comfortable — a perfect mix of old and new. The apartment is decorated in red and white, and I suspect much of the furnishings and accessories came from IKEA. There is a good heating system and I believe even air conditioning.

The front door opens into a very large foyer. We especially liked the pegs and shelves for hanging coats and storing items we took outside with us every time.

To the left of the foyer is a large master bedroom. There is a large window, though we kept the shutters mostly closed for privacy because the offices just across the tiny street were just a few feet away. The master bedroom has a small dressing room with ample space for hanging clothes and also a small chest of drawers. The double bed was very comfortable. All the linen is new - actually, almost everything in the apartment is brand new.

The second bedroom is smaller with two twin beds and a big wardrobe/storage cupboard. This room also has a window, looking across the same tiny street.

The bathroom is newly-equipped with a good shower/tub, plenty of light, and really good (new) red and white towels. A hairdryer is supplied.

The great room consists of a very comfortable red sectional couch (that I think could sleep a couple more people), a wooden dining table and chairs (a total of six chairs were available), and a kitchen area. There is a television/DVD/VCR with a few movies. There is also a CD player and some music CDs. The living area has big windows with drapes and sheers. The sheers offer some privacy while allowing natural light into the spacious room. There’s a tiny, tiny balcony used for some type of storage — not really suitable for people-use and no view anyway.

A wide assortment of tourist information is provided under the glass top of the coffee table. Other than tourist info, there aren’t any books or other reading material in the apartment.

The kitchen was located at the other end of the great room — large refrigerator, oven and stove, microwave, sink, toaster, hot water pot. A french press is provided for coffee-making. There isn’t a dishwasher or clothes washing machine. We did like the special cupboard for holding the drying dishes. Everything is brand new and I really thought everything that could possibly be needed was provided. We ate all our breakfasts and a couple of light dinners in the apartment. (Since the meal times in Barcelona are much later than we are used to, we ate a big lunch out between 2 and 4 pm and then just had a light supper at the apartment.) We especially appreciated the electric juicer and bought lots of fresh oranges at the big covered market (Mercat de La Boqueria) off La Rambla.

I highly recommend this apartment: the location, the size/comfort/décor, and the price are all ideal. We would definitely stay here again and next time would plan to stay at least a week to more fully explore the wonderful city of Barcelona.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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