Hotel Review – AC Hotel Barcelona Forum

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This hotel is next to the Forum Complex in Barcelona. The Forum building is a natural sciences museum designed by  the Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. The complex also includes a exhibition centre and an auditorium.

The hotel is a high-rise building with more than 350 rooms. It is part of the AC chain, well known in Spain and owned by the Marriott Group. During our review, the standard hotel room was offered at EUR 115, tax included.

Location

As you may have guessed from the above introduction, a hotel near a exhibition centre is usually not ideal for holidaymakers;  It generally means that it is far from the centre. You book such location if you have a convention there or business to attend to. The Forum is indeed on the north east side of Barcelona, at the end of Avinguda Diagonal. The location may be a bit too far to some but is actually only 7 stops from the centre on the metro. In front of the hotel, there is a mid-size shopping mall with a few retailers, cafes, restaurants and a large supermarket.

First Impression

The hotel is a modern building with a high ceiling lobby and lounge. For those of you who are not familiar with AC hotels, the brand puts forward a “designers’ eye” with stylish experience. Yet, its hotels are usually in the 3-stars range and are meant to be affordable with a price average of EUR 100. Here the lounge is nice and relaxed with a few magazines and newspapers available. The checkin is pleasant and can actually be done through the Marriott app, should you have an account with them. It sends you a notification once the room is ready.

 

 

Rooms

The property offers various rooms from standard to junior suite and suite. The standard room is 24 sqm, a good size for a Barcelona hotel. You may choose between city or sea view. The later however overlooks the convention centre and is probably not worth it for the price difference. Given the number of sights in the city, you will probably not spend a lot of time admiring the view!

For this review, we had booked a standard room but were upgraded to a junior suite at checkin. The hotel was clearly not full at this time of year (between Christmas and New Year).

Obviously, the room was big and included a separate lounge area. With various shades of brown, the room could have been brighter, however it had a cosy feeling and was relaxing after a full day of sightseeing. The wooden floor is a clear plus for an hotel room. The furniture was classic and rather uninspiring for a brand that puts a style experience forward. The Sea view was quite nice especially at sunrise but as mentioned above, the surroundings probably don’t help.

The bathroom had all sorts of toiletries, hair dryer, sleepers, etc. In this junior suite, there are no less than 2 showers in an interesting setup where there is no separation between the two!

One thing that was rather surprising is the lack of coffee or tea in the room. While I would have understood that there was none in a standard room, there should be at least some nescafé and tea bags available in a junior suite. There was however a minibar  with 2 small bottles of water that were free of charge.

 

 

Facilities

The property includes an outdoor swimming pool which we couldn’t try in  January. On the 3rd floor, a gym is also available to guests 24/7. It is however rather small. It will be OK if you need to do a bit of cardio and free weights but that’s about it. A bit disappointing for a hotel of this size which seems to cater to conference-goers.

On that topic, there are no less than 18 meeting rooms in the hotel. The biggest one being of 372 sqm.

 

 

Restaurants

There is a breakfast restaurant called “Dia&Nit” which we didn’t try. The buffet is priced at EUR 22 per person. This is on the high side for Barcelona, especially for this neighbourhood. We recommend you cross the road to the shopping mall where you will be able to get a good local breakfast for half the price or less.

Much better is the the Suite bar. It has beautiful views and offers mediterranean cuisine in a lounge setting. It is open for lunch and dinner and can also accommodate business cocktails. It is however probably not worth it to tourists and would be more interesting to wander outside for dinner.

Connectivity

The hotel room has a few power plugs at the right places. It doesn’t really offer a proper desk but the lounge area will certainly be fine for a bit of work. The wifi is free but the high speed version is only available to status members. Other guests would have to pay for it.

There were 2 Flat screen TVs which included a large number of international TV channels.

Verdict

The AC hotel is a good 3 stars and provided that the price is reasonable, it is of good value for money. It is a nice hotel to go back to after a full day of sightseeing or work. There are a few restaurants in the area but one may feel a bit far from the action in the evening.

This is definitely more of a business hotel than a city trip one. It may however be worth it during the peak season. The service is good and efficient. The rooms are quiet, even though the surroundings may be less interesting.

In summary, we recommend that you look for a more central hotel when it comes to Barcelona. It simply doesn’t have enough plus points to attract anyone visiting the city. That being said, it may become a good alternative should the 3-4 stars in town be too expensive or fully booked.