Tourist Information Guide

Barcelona hotel, hostal and pension - Knowing the difference will save you money.

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To ensure you find the best Barcelona hotel (or equivalent) to meet your needs it's important to understand the different names used for accommodation in Barcelona. Barcelona hotels have an average year-round occupancy of 85% - the highest in Europe as a consequence rates have shot up recently.

Before we go any further don't get mixed up between a hostal and hostel - they are totally different. A hostal is similar to a guest house or hotel, but a hostel (with an "e") is a youth hostel. In Spain the actual name given to a youth hostel is Albergues Juveniles.

There are three names given to hotel-like accommodation in Barcelona they are Hotel, Hostal and Pension.

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What's the difference between a Barcelona hotel, hostal and pension?

As you'll find out, these names can be misleading and a little confusing. Not one of the official Barcelona hotel bodies we approached could give us a precise definition of the difference between a hotel, hostal and a pension.

However we've provided a rough guide summarizing the main differences below:

Is there a difference between a hostal and a pension?

A hostal and pension are in fact names for the same type of accommodation. Therefore whenever we refer to a hostal we also mean pension.

What are the differences between a hostal and hotel?

1) The first important point to note is that a hostal in Barcelona is not a youth hostel (the name for a youth hostel in Barcelona is Albergues Juveniles) Hostals are similar to hotels and are more or less equivalent to a guest house. Hostals can offer equal, and sometimes better quality accommodation than some hotels within the same price range.

2) Generally Barcelona hostals tends to be considerably cheaper than a Barcelona hotel offering similar facilities. Prices vary, but many hostals can be as much as 50% cheaper than an equivalent hotel.

3) Hostals are not categorized by the same 5 star hotel rating. Hostals only have a three star rating system. This makes judging the facilities of a hostal a little more unpredictable.

4) Hostals tend to be family run businesses and hotels are often owned by large corporations and as a consequence the atmosphere in a Hostal tends to be more friendly and less formal than a hotel.

5) Hostals tend to be smaller than hotels.

6) Hostals generally don't offer as many facilities. However there are hostals that can offer many of the mod cons of a hotel e.g. Satellite TV, Air-conditioning, and heating (calefacción) for the winter months.

7) Hostal reservations generally cannot be made through internet reservation or booking sites as they do not have the expensive computer facilities required to do this.

Our Insider Tip

Some hostals have shared bathroom facilities. However many hostals have rooms with an en-suite bathroom or have a bathroom that is for your exclusive use but not in your room so you will need to check with the hostal before you book.

As you can see the distinction between a hostal and hotel is a little blurred so the only way to be certain of what you're getting is to check to see what type of facilities are offered by your hostal before you book.

See our Barcelona Hostal review page.

Self Catering

A Barcelona hotel or hostal is one option but perhaps you would like to have self catering accommodation. To find out more see our page on Barcelona Aparthotels.

If you're not after all the frills of a hotel but just want good, cheap and well located accommodation then a hostal or pension are definitely worth considering and would generally save you between 30 to 50% off your accommodation bill.

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