Independent Families: 'We need a child-friendly hotel near Barcelona'

Q. My husband will be visiting Barcelona on business in November and I'm planning to join him with our three-year-old daughter for a long weekend. We'd like to find a family-friendly hotel within two hours of the city for the three of us. Anywhere offering baby-sitting would be a bonus.

P Watkins, via e-mail

A. Barcelona, if you haven't already visited, is a fantastic family destination: teeming with Gaudi's fairytale architecture and a plethora of weird and wonderful shops, bars and restaurants, it is one of Spain's most vibrant cities. It also boasts plenty of history, tradition and culture from its historic Gothic centre to the rejuvenated seafront, and is an ideal short-haul destination where you can escape the onset of winter with temperatures averaging 18C in early November.

However, the city is also the capital of Catalonia, a region often overlooked by urban-centric weekenders. Catalonia boasts impressive mountain ranges as well as extensive plains in the centre. It is also one of Spain's principle cava-producing regions, particularly in Alt Penedes. Staying outside Barcelona would give you the chance to soak up the less-visited rural scenery whilst still being within reasonable distance of the city.

There is no shortage of hotels in and around Barcelona, from the ultra hip to the grand and traditional. For an escape, I suggest heading to the hills. El Castell De Ciutat (00 34 973 350 000; is set in the Segre Valley in the Catalan Pyrenees. The resort comprises a castle, concert room, museum and restaurant. In northern Catalonia, it's a two-hour drive (200km) north-west of Barcelona, and the hotel can organise transfers. A double room with an extra bed for your child and views of the surrounding valley would cost €235 (£168) per night in November, or €275 (£196) for a room with a terrace. This also includes breakfast, as well as use of all the hotel's facilities including two swimming pools and a spa. The hotel also offers a baby-sitting service with English-speaking sitters, costing €10 (£7.10) per hour. Day trips from the hotel could include a visit to La Seu d'Urgell with its Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria d'Urgell, or to the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park.

Another city escape is the Hotel Cal Batlle (00 34 938 484 731; a converted 14th-century stately home near Sant Celoni, around half an hour's drive north-east of Barcelona. The building is surrounded by peaceful gardens and has an outdoor pool. Its chic, contemporary bedrooms cost €193 (£138) per night in November for the three of you, including breakfast, and baby-sitting can be arranged with advance warning. From here, you could easily access the city by road or train, or similarly the beaches and towns of the wild Costa Brava. Tossa de Mar, for example, lines a picturesque fishing cove that's backed by a ruined fort and is around 30 minutes' drive from the hotel.

North of Sant Celoni is another historic lodging, the Parador de Vic Sau (00 34 938 122 323; near Vic and Vilanova de Sau. The Catalan farmhouse dates back to the 17th century and overlooks Sau lake with a backdrop of the Guillerias mountains. A double room with an extra bed would cost €191 (£137) per night, including breakfast, and Barcelona is around an hour's drive from the hotel. Unfortunately the hotel cannot arrange baby-sitting.

In Barcelona you might want to concentrate on just one area. The oldest part of the city is in the Gothic quarter. It is the main draw for tourists so you could consider basing yourselves there. The arterial stretch of La Rambla slices its way through the old town and is famous for its street entertainment; you'll also find the art nouveau cathedral to food, the Boqueria food market, nearby. A good choice of family accommodation in the area is the Citadines (0800 376 3898;, serviced apartments right on La Rambla. A studio costs €150 (£107) per night with an extra bed for your daughter, or €230 (£164) for a one-bedroom apartment. Importantly they all feature sound-proofed windows to keep out the noise from La Rambla below. The apartments don't offer a baby-sitting service, however, the tourist information office at Placa de Catalunya has a list of certified baby-sitting agencies should you want to experience Barcelona's vibrant nightlife.

Aside from cultural pursuits, Barcelona has plenty to interest young children, including a zoo (00 34 932 256 780; based in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The city also has one of the largest aquariums in Europe (00 34 93 221 74 74; in the Port Vell area. A more indulgent excursion is the Museum of Chocolate (00 34 932 687 878;, a relatively new addition to the city that takes you through the history and manufacturing process, and allows you to sample the goods. Finally, on the outskirts of the city is Collserola (00 34 932 803 552;, an expansive natural park cradled by the hills of Serra de Collserola. The park is ideal for walking and picnics and there's an old-fashioned funfair at the top of Tibidabo offering spectacular views of the city.

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine