Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight reviews, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
Mentioned in my review of the The AC Hotel New Orleans: The AC brand is native to Spain and I was excited to check out the brand in its homeland, however, our stay was terrible and AC Hotel Irla in Barcelona was one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed in.
Pros- Affordable price
Cons-The hotel was old, rooms had no air conditioning or room temperature control, the service was terrible, the room service food was overpriced and horrible, and beds were uncomfortable
Trip Overview: European Adventures 2018
Flight Review: American Airlines A330-300 Economy CLT-LHR
Hotel Review: London Marriott Regent's Park
Food in London
Flight Review: British Airways A319 Economy LGW-BCN
Hotel Review: AC Hotel Irla Barcelona
Train Review: Renfe Clase Turista Barcelona-Valencia
Exploring Life in Valencia
Exploring Life in Barcelona
Flight Review: American Airlines 777-200 Economy BCN-JFK
Flight Review: American Airlines A321T Business Class Seats JFK-DCA
AC Hotel Irla is located in the Northwestern portion of Barcelona near Avinguda Diagonal, a major road in the city. We took a taxi from the Barcelona El Prat Airport which is about 20 minutes away and cost $12. One thing to note is that at the time we were in Barcelona in February 2018 Uber was effectively banned but resumed to the city in March 2018. The hotel is about two miles away from major Barcelona sights such as La Sagrada Familia. If you are up to walking Barcelona is a very walkable city and the hotel's location is convenient to many shops and restaurants. However, if you are not up for walking and would like to stay close to the tourist sights or the beach, this hotel would not be an ideal location.
After stepping out of our taxi I was surprised how busy the streets around the hotel were and this would prove to be a problem throughout our stay. The exterior of the hotel looked very similar to the AC Hotel New Orleans but that is where the similarities ended as the interior was very dated.
We walked up to the check-in desk and began the check-in process first in Spanish and then switched to English when the conversation grew too advanced. The front desk attendant spoke both Spanish and English but was not very friendly. The check-in process was very slow even though there were no other guests waiting to check in. While Christina continued the check in process I looked at the assorted travel sized items such as deodorant or toothpaste which were on a stand next to the front desk. I found the items to be overpriced and I would recommend walking to any of the nearby stores to purchase these instead.
The rest of the lobby was dark, (a trend that would continue throughout our stay), and unimpressive with a number of chairs scattered around four round tables. Overall the lobby was uninviting. The front desk attendant proceeded to ask us a series of questions and tried to up sell us on breakfast which we declined. She also scanned our passports (a first for us) it made me very uncomfortable having to turn over this personal information to the hotel. Later on I read that it is common in the European Union because of a requirement that hotel's identify their guests.
Once we completed the check-in process we proceeded to our room using the elevator. The elevator was old and very small with the ability to hold at most four guests with suitcases. As we walked to the room we noticed that the hallways were very dark and gloomy.
Upon entering the room we could not turn on any lights and realized that in order to turn on the lights you were required to keep your key card inserted into a slot at the entrance to the room. This was very inconvenient and could lead to guests getting locked out of there rooms after forgetting to remove the key. My first impression of the room was that it was tiny. It is easily the smallest hotel room I had ever stayed in. Worse yet, as Christina pointed out, the hotel did not use the small space very well. The room had a queen size bed and desk in the corner of the room near the window. Also, on the desk were two complimentary bottles of water, which I appreciated, and a room service menu. The closet in the room was so small that our suitcases could not fit and we just left them on the floor.
The interior of the room was very old and it included almost none of the modern amenities of a hotel room despite the hotel and the AC brand advertising themselves as modern. One of the biggest missing items was the lack of international outlets or USB plugs. This forced us to go out on the first night to buy a international adapter.
The bathroom had a shower and numerous AC branded amenities including a comb, lotion, body wash, and a very small bottle of toothpaste. I appreciated that the hotel provided all of these amenities. The bathroom also had the same glass sink you will find in all AC brand hotels and AC branded towels.
However, the problems with this room continued in bathroom. After taking a shower I came out to a completely soaked floor. After inspecting the shower I realized that that the door to the shower was not closing correctly and had flooded our bathroom floor. I was really annoyed but we used our towels to mop it up and continued to try and get some rest.
The room was hot so we turned the nob on what we thought was the central heating and cooling system to adjust the temperature since it had no electronic display. However, the room seemed to only get hotter so we opened the window to allow some cool air to come in but this also brought in the significant noise from the busy street below. The room grew so hot and noisy that we could not get much sleep. Furthermore, the bed was very hard and had no sheet only a quilt. Because the room had no air conditioning this meant sleeping without any blankets or overheating under the quilt. After not one but two problems we were so frustrated that we asked to switch rooms the next morning.
To the hotel's credit after asking they switched us to a room across the hall. This room was marginally bigger since it was a corner room and the shower doors closed correctly further preventing flooding. However, it suffered from all of the other problems of the previous room in that it had no USB plugs, was hot, and had no air conditioning forcing us to sleep with the window open exposed to the street noise. We found out later that the entire hotel had no individual room temperature control and during the winter, spring, and fall had NO AIR CONDITIONING! So in fact we were turning on the heat the first night. This was truly shocking to us and it is the first hotel I have ever stayed in that had no air conditioning offered during a stay. Between the hard bed, lack of sufficient bedding options, street noise, and heat Christina and I slept terribly throughout our stay at this hotel even after we switched rooms.
Room Service and Gym
Christina and I did not try out the breakfast during our stay but one night when we were so exhausted from walking around Barcelona that we decided to try the room service which was offered 24 hours a day. The room service menu offered various dishes including starters, "bits and bobs", desserts, wine, and spirits.
Given our poor experience with the hotel thus far we decided to play it safe and only order dishes with ham since that is a Spanish speciality and we thought there was no way they could mess that up. We were wrong. The process started off badly as we ordered a bottle of water along with our food and the food showed up without the bottle of water. The silverware used for the room service seemed legitimate but as soon as I opened the top and saw the food that positive impression went way. The ham and cheese sandwich I ordered cost 11.20 euros ($13) and the ham tasted like Lunchables ham and the cheese tasted like slices of Kraft singles. The chips that came with the sandwich were literally plated Pringles and the salad included no cheese and was completely flavorless. My sandwich was so bad that I ended up leaving most of it on the plate save the Pringles. Christina ordered the Iberian ham with breadsticks which cost 15.30 euros (~$18) was not much better. For this price she got a plate of what was certainly the worse Iberian ham we had the whole trip and hard breadsticks. I must say that this was the worse meal I have ever had at any hotel and if this is the best that the hotel could offer for room service they just shouldn't offer it.
The hotel did not have many amenities and did not even have an AC Lounge, which is the bar featured in many other AC hotels. However, it did have a gym. We did not use the gym during our stay but I did check it out before we left and it was small but appropriate for a hotel of this size. The gym had three cardio machines, one of which was broken during our stay. On the positive side it did offer free bottles of water, a sauna, and a shower.
Service and Hotel Response
The service at this hotel was just terrible. As I stated we had numerous problems throughout our stay and honestly I got the impression that the hotel simply did not care. First, when we complained about the water flooding onto our floor and the hot temperature in our room no one ever followed up to see if the second room was better or to apologize for the leak. Second, when the room service showed up without the water we ordered we called down to the front desk and they said that we could come down and get the bottle. We declined and just made sure it wasn't charged to our room. Third, one day we showed up to hotel and our key cards were all deactivated. This has happened to me in the past but never to multiple key cards from the same room. We went downstairs to get them reactivated and they asked to reconfirm how long we were staying. This implied to me that the key cards were activated for the wrong length of time at check-in. Finally, after numerous issues at check-out were were never asked how our stay went.
The impression I got was that the hotel did not care. We had such a bad experience that for our first time ever we wrote to Marriott customer service to complain about our stay. Very disappointedly Marriott customer service simply forwarded our complaint to the hotel. The hotel responded back saying the following which I have paraphrased from their response. First, the hotel said that some of their rooms have international plugs and USBs but one must have not been available when we checked in. However, they sell international adapters at the front desk. Second, that hotel only offers heat during the winter and air conditioning during the summer and that guests have no individual control of temperature in their rooms. Third, some rooms in the hotel had been undergoing a renovation so the shower issue is common when they renovate rooms. Fourth, the key cards likely deactivated when put next to an electronic device so the hotel staff always asks to confirm the departure date when guests get new cards. Finally, the hotel asked for more details about the issues with the room service meal and said they would forward the feedback on the room service to the proper department.
I must say I was extremely disappointed by this response from the hotel. After numerous problems over five nights at the hotel we were offered no compensation at all. Instead what we got were very weak responses and excuses. Honestly, if this hotel doesn't even have individual temperature control how can it advertise as having "modern rooms"?
The AC Hotel Irla was one of the worst hotels I have ever stayed in and if I ever find myself in Barcelona again I would never even consider staying at this hotel again no matter the price. This hotel was only built in 2003 yet it looks like it hasn't been updated since the 1990's. After a decent stay at the AC Hotel in New Orleans the stay at the AC Hotel Irla really hurt my impression of the AC brand. Thankfully, as you will see in a future trip report about our visit to Puerto Rico, my faith in the brand was restored after a great stay at AC Hotel San Juan Condado!