This week, I was fortunate to stay in Casa Kessler, a boutique hostel in Barcelona. I say “fortunate” because it’s pretty much booked out for the summer as more people begin to be alert of it’s awesomeness!
I really enjoyed my stay and, as I was there, I began to think about why this hostel could be just perfect for those people more accustomed to hotel life but are maybe wanting to dip their toe into the budget world of hostelling.
Barcelona is a major European city and is as expensive, if not more so than cities such as London and Paris. I certainly racked up the credit card bill whilst I was there (despite desperately trying hard not to…tapas is hard to resist!) Therefore, accommodation is priced accordingly. Hotels and hostels alike are significantly more expensive than elsewhere in Europe (such as Krakow where you can get a nice dorm room for £7 a night!) and Casa Kessler is not the cheapest hostel in the city. However, it’s price still made this budget traveler happy, especially when you consider the quality of accommodation on offer.
I paid 26euros a night for an 8 bed female dorm. I booked through booking.com where I got a small loyalty discount.
My overall cost was 78euros for a 3 night stay in the middle of Barcelona plus city tax per night on top (approx 0.65cents a night)
I would recommend booking through their website directly as they offer different prices, depending on availability.
Casa Kessler is located in a district called Eixample which I had not heard of, but was instantly happy with my choice. Eixample is a district between the old city (Gothic Quarter/Las Ramblas etc) and what were once the villages on the outskirts. The nearest metro stop was called Universitat (yep, that’s University to you and me) although this was a pleasant 15 minute stroll away. Due to this district’s easy to navigate grid system of roads (think Manhatten) I found the hostel with ease on arrival. The area is gorgeous – quiet and “village-y” with friendly locals and an abundance of cafes, tapas bars and outdoor terraces that need exploring! The road itself – Carrer D’Enric Granados – is beautiful and pedestrianised. Completely removed from the busy hoardes of Las Ramblas and perfectly safe to walk around at night time. The road also featured on this list of top 10 cool streets in Barcelona, found here.
So the first reason why Casa Kessler may be a perfect first timer hostel is the fact that it is in a quiet, cultural area, with friendly locals that is safe at all times.
The hostel itself is located in an old renovated apartment block with beautiful preserved features. The entrance hall is the grandest welcome to a hostel I have ever received! The hostel only occupies one part of the apartment block so you do have to ring the door bell to be let in. But ‘Casa’ does mean ‘home’. And that is exactly what it feels like you have stepped into…someone’s (rather grand) home!
Once in the hostel, you’ll be greeted by the friendly owners. These guys go above and beyond. In my 3 days I was there, I saw them order people taxis, fetch people hairdryers and irons and were constantly cleaning (The results of which spoke for themselves – the place is spotless!) You will then be given a guided tour of the ‘house’ and be made to feel right at home.
The hostel also offers (as many hostels do) a free walking tour, plus tickets for various attractions such as the hop on hop off bus, which often aren’t the best value for tourists but the one in Barcelona is consistently rated highly (I used it extensively in my 2 days, completing all 3 routes).
I got to the hostel in the evening and found several people in the kitchen making dinner, then sitting in the common area to share a meal together.
So the second reason why Casa Kessler is a perfect first time hostel: a friendly welcome and a well-stocked kitchen for self catering if desired.
A key aspect of any holiday – where am I going to sleep? For those who have not stayed in a hostel before, it can be quite intimidating to walk into “your” room, to know that this is shared with a variety of strangers, but just think of them as potential friends!
Casa Kessler actually only has 10 rooms in the entire place, making it a teeny hostel (compared to a huge hostel like the YHA in Sydney which has over 300 rooms!). There are several options including small 4 bed dorms and male/female only rooms. I picked an 8 bed room (the cheapest option!) and went for a female only room (as is often my preference in hostels where possible).
The rooms are well equipped, with a large roomy locker for each person (big enough for a medium size suitcase/backpack and decorated with a pretty wall sticker), plenty of power points (including one by each bed – God send!), reading lights, mirror and a shelf for each bunk, a beautiful mosaic floor, dreamy chiffon curtains, cute pictures of Barcelona by each bed, an arm chair, full length mirror and…memory foam mattresses! Oh yes! Luxury on a budget gave me the best night sleep in a hostel I’ve ever had!
Talking of sleep, with this hostel being in a quiet residential area, sleep was entirely possible. A common fear of hostels is “will I be able to sleep?” Well, possibly not if you pick a party hostel in Amsterdam with a built in night club (hello past me) but here? Very much so! The personal reading lights meant people could stay up if they wanted to without disturbing others and the quiet street meant no noise drifting over the terrace wall. This left me free to wake up early ready to make the most of my 2 days in the city and when I returned…my bed had been made up with clean linen, just like in a hotel! (Definitely an usual thing in hostels!)
The room was not an en-suite although the bathroom was just next door. I never had to queue for the bathroom and the decor could easily rival that of a 5 star hotel. The showers and toilets, like the kitchen, were consistently spotless and cleaned daily.
If you really can’t face the idea of a dorm room, but still want to try to social side of hostels, they do offer 4 private rooms too, which are slightly cheaper than a hotel room in the same area. But I say give the shared room a go!
So reason number 3: beautiful, comfy, noise-free bedrooms with equally beautiful bathrooms!
I met some lovely people in the hostel. There were some long-termers staying there (people visiting a city for an extended period of time e.g a couple of months but can’t afford an apartment for that time) mainly were exchange students who were very welcoming into their ‘Casa’. There were also tourists and backpackers. A common theme though was how respectful everyone was. And by respectful I mean “unlikely to rifle through your stuff” (a common fear of those who have never hostelled before). Perhaps I am too trusting (although I like to think not) but I felt perfectly at ease here. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still locked my passport and iPad away but I’d do that even if I had a room to myself. But I felt that this hostel attracted very respectful and trustworthy people and I felt secure living my things there in a shared room when I went off exploring.
There was a midnight curfew on noise and this was more than kept to. Everyone was there for the same reason – to enjoy Barcelona. So no one wanted to stay up drinking and screaming in the common room all night (not that there’s a problem with this – when I go on my summer Euro trip I am really looking forward to partying it up in Croatia!) But it wasn’t what I wanted with this mini trip so therefore this quiet, peaceful ‘house’ was perfect!
The common room was beautiful and cosy, just like a real living room in someone’s house, and I spent a lovely couple of hours in there watching Netflix and chatting with a girl backpacking her way through Europe.
Also..bonus – high speed wifi that worked all over the house meaning Netflix was more than accessible (because sometimes we just need to chill out with a churro from the shop down the road and an episode of Friends!)
Reason number 4: Friendly, respectful guests and a beautiful common room to chat to them in.
I wasn’t really there long enough to make the most of the stunning garden, but I’d love to come back for a longer stay to make the most of the sun loungers, sofas and BBQ.
There were also bikes to rent, should you decide to explore the city on 2 wheels (a common choice as the city has invested heavily in cycle paths and secure lock ups for your bike).
So the 5th and final reason: A beautiful garden, a BBQ to help yourself to for your self-catering dinner and bicycles to get out and explore with.
Hostels aren’t for everyone and some people will just never fancy staying in one, but if you’re tempted then I would really recommend giving Casa Kessler a go for your first attempt!
N.B I was not endorsed by the hostel for this article. All opinions are my own.