Barcelona conference hotels: do I stay or do I go?

Choosing a conference hotel is not always down to location, location,  location. A balance between Barcelona’s culture and business meetings is the preferred way to go.

For those on the conference circuit, it’s easy to pick a hotel nearest to the venue. A big, shiny four or five-star property, which is easy in terms of transport and without having to expend too much energy on trawling through hotel websites, as you might do for a leisure trip.

Much has been made of millennials (who by the way don’t like being called millennials), wanting a mix of business and leisure. To use that much-maligned term – bleisure.

On a recent trip to Barcelona for IBTM, there was plenty of choice, with the nearest hotel just a two-minute walk from the IBTM conference venue.

After a hard day at the conference, strolling along the main thoroughfare, Las Ramblas, might be the desired way to spend the evening. This is where the boutique hotels are making inroads.

Yurbban Passage Hotel & Spa, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is a favoured haunt by the chic crowd. Upon arrival, you are greeted by hotel staff, casually dressed in black t-shirts, beige chino trousers and trainers. The hotel is at pains to introduce the guest to all things Catalan. Along the wall in stylishly lit alcoves are art and crafts created by local artisans.

It’s a refreshing change from the major hotel chains, and well worth the 20-minute cab ride to the IBTM venue on the Fira Barcelona Gran Via.

Everything here is a reminder that you are in the very heart of Catalonia. The D’Aprop restaurant is headed up by Michelin-starred chef Xavier Franco, who serves up local Catalan dishes.

Barcelona's famed iconic landmark of La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s famed iconic landmark of La Sagrada Familia


The 60-room boutique is housed in a former textile factory, dating back to the 1880s, and a quick five minutes from The Plaça de Catalunya. Also nearby is the Palau de la Música Catalana, designed in the Catalan modernista style by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

Aficionados of Catalan culture can wander over to the Museum of the history of Barcelona, which traces the city from its origins in Roman times until the present day.

Barcelona is a city renowned for its design and architecture; the home of architect Antoni Gaudi, creator of La Sagrada Familia. This extraordinary creation which resembles an enormous melting candle, is a 15-minute walk from the Yurbban.

Barcelona is a popular city for meetings and events in Europe, coming in second after London in a Cvent list for 2018. But the political situation in Barcelona has affected its hotel performance, particularly with uncertainty following the referendum for Catalan independence in October 2017.

A report from global hotel consultancy HVS London gave a muted response, saying: “The city’s political situation has impacted the property investment sector, which could cause deals to slow down or even stop if it continues,” Sophie Perret, director of the global hotel consultancy said.

“However, while the moratorium and the PEUAT policy (which protects and preserves neighbourhoods and condominiums), could potentially dent some investors’ appetite for Barcelona, continued demand for hotel rooms means we are strongly optimistic that the city will remain a key source of investment for both global and intra-regional investors,” she stated in the report.

Nevertheless, there are some signs of future growth. In 2019, Nobu is due to open a 259-room hotel in the summer of 2019. It’s the fourth European property in the chain, with rumours that Hollywood actor Robert De Niro is opening the hotel.

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