Friday 28 February 2014

Hotel Principal, C/ Junta de Comerç, Barcelona

Centrally located in Barcelona's edgy El Raval district, Hotel Principal is a timeworn establishment with small bedrooms and jaded staff. Downstairs, the hotel retains some historic appeal - massive wooden doors dating from the 19th century lead up to a grand staircase. But the remaining period features have been overwhelmed by functional fixtures and fittings, naff prints and an array of knick-knacks. Furnished and decorated on a budget, the cramped en-suite bedrooms tend to be short of daylight. Still, the beds are comfortable enough and the free WiFi works surprisingly well for a three-star hotel. The en-suite bathrooms are in reasonable condition and there are small safes in the wardrobes (3 euros a day for a key). Despite the thin walls, hard floors and tendency for doors to slam, it can be surprisingly quiet on the fourth floor at night (perhaps due to a lack of guests). Stairs on the fifth floor lead to an extensive, but basic, terrace with views over the surrounding rooftops.

One of the views from the rambling roof terrace

Served in a depressing dining room with no natural light, the Hotel Principal's breakfast buffet is fairly extensive, featuring hot food, cheeses, meats, pastries, fruit salad and other stables. But the quality is disappointing - the scrambled eggs can taste of cheap cooking oil, while the sausages are low grade. The machine coffee is harsh and the fruit juice too sweet and artificial. Only the bread and fruit are really appealing. You won't want to linger. Service is fairly minimal and can be monosyllabic. Although the hotel's surrounding neighbourhood is seedy (prostitutes ply their trade on street corners and the beggars can be a bit aggressive), it is a short walk down to La Rambla and many of Barcelona's historic sights. If you aren't planning to spend much time there, Hotel Principal is a passable place to stay. 5/10

Cramped and crudely-decorated, yet fairly comfortable, bedrooms