I receive a lot of enquiries from people asking for advice because they are having difficulty finding a cheap hotel in Barcelona or accommodation at a reasonable price. This normally happens when the hotel search has been left for only a few weeks before the visit.
Barcelona is not the same as other European cities as far as accommodation is concerned. There is a shortage of available rooms in the city. Barcelona is a small city bounded by the sea on one side and a mountain range on the other, and there is limited room for any further developments. The average occupancy level for the hotels in Barcelona throughout the year is 75% - one of the highest of any European city.
It's normally OK to leave the accommodation search late in out of season months (Mid October to end March) but for peak season (April to September) it will mean you will pay much higher prices and you will find it much more difficult to secure the place you want.
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It's therefore best to arrange your accommodation a *minimum* of 2 - 3 months in advance. You will get better prices, and you will also find it much easier to get the place you want. There is nothing more stressful than frantically trying to find a place to stay and then ending up having to pay over the odds for a place that is not what you wanted.
The other main issue to be aware of is that Barcelona is a popular host to international venues which draw additional thousands of people to the city. e.g. the Grand Prix which over the last few years has pulled thousands of additional visitors to the city. Events like these happen regularly in Barcelona, and you could find it difficult, if not almost impossible to find a place to stay without paying well in excess of what you would normally pay.
With the advent of low-cost airline flights Barcelona has become a popular European short break destination - especially for holiday periods like Easter, Bank holidays and even just summer weekends - it's important to plan your accommodation in advance for these periods to ensure you will find a place.
My advice is book your hotel well in advance of your visit (a minimum of 2 to 3 months - but preferably earlier) to avoid stress and paying more than you should for your hotel bill - you have been so advised :-)
To ensure you pay the least for your accommodation in Barcelona you need to plan and get organized and book at least 3 months in advance of your visit. This way you will enjoy lower hotel bills.