I’d been living in hostels for months. Exhausted, jet-lagged, cold, and hungry, I dragged my weary bones to my new temporary home at Casa Gracia. The promise of another creaky bunk-bed in a musky dorm room was the least exciting thing about landing in my new city so you can imagine my shock when I walked in the door to this place. “This must be the Hilton of hostels,” I said to myself after the friendly staff suggested I drop my bags and go grab a free cappuccino while they prepared for my check-in.
Casa Gracia is a shining example of a boutique hostel for young “flashpackers.” It’s a new form of accommodation I’ve seen emerging throughout my travels and I’m loving it. The hostel industry has been forced to adapt thanks to the emerging competition from the likes of Airbnb and Couchsurfing, which means we’re seeing a new genre of hostel that absolutely nails the things it does best (well-designed common spaces, group activities, free breakfast buffets, 24 hour check-in) while cutting costs the ways hostels always have (8+ to a room, shared bathrooms, barebones housekeeping). Rooms vary from posh privates to derelict dorms with prices matched accordingly. Travellers get to choose how nice their room will be, but everyone gets to share the incredible common spaces that actually give the place personality.
Here’s the thing, while travelling solo, how long do you actually spend appreciating your bedroom? I’d say 30 minutes max. If I’m sleepy, I’m passed out with earplugs in. If I’m awake, I’m staring at a touchscreen or doing a bag/locker re-org. Why bother charging a guest more for the upkeep of a space they barely use?
If you’re going to Barcelona, I’d highly recommend staying here to see what I’m talking about. It’s in a great location in the Gracia neighbourhood (voted as the best neighbourhood in Barcelona by Barcelonians), a minute walk from Diagonal station, and only a couple of blocks from two of the best “cheap eats” places I visited, Roure and Morrysom. The only downside of Casa Gracia is that their rates vary wildly based on the day of the week and the rooms available, but if you’re going to Barcelona (especially in the low season), I’d highly recommend seeing if you can find a deal here.