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My wife and I recently came back from a wonderful stay at the AC Hotel Sants Marriott Barcelona. This was our second visit to this very vibrant city. Our goal this time around was not to explore so much of Barcelona since we’ve visited most of the sites a couple of years ago. Our goal was to go on more day trips outside of Barcelona.As much as I enjoy staying in high-end, gorgeous properties, I tend to focus more on points budget-friendly, “functional” properties. By functional, these were the basic things I care about:
- Comfortable bed
- Hot shower
- Free Wi-Fi access
- Nearby public transportation
All other perks that are offered are icing on the cake. I had Marriott/SPG points to burn so I looked for options using their website.
My Marriott/SPG budget-friendly choices in Barcelona
I did find quite a few illustrious properties charging up to 60,000 points per night, and then I saw three other properties in Barcelona that were charging 17,500 per night.
- AC Hotel Sants
- AC Hotel Irla
- AC Hotel Diagonal L’Illa
I remember staying at an AC Hotel by Marriott in Porto, Portugal and had an amazing stay back in June 2018. It was also a budget-friendly hotel. It was not exactly in the city center. But after a train ride with 3-4 stops, we were in the heart of the action. So I took that experience and made a decision to choose AC Hotel Sants. I read reviews on Tripadvisor, and many have shared their great experience with this hotel, and its proximity to public transportation.
The cost of the stay using points
At the time of my booking, the hotel only had 5 of our required 8 nights that were available. So I booked 5 nights at 17,500 per night. I got the 5th night free as part of the Marriott offer. In essence, I used:
- 4 nights x 17,500 Marriott points per night = 70,000
- 1 night x 0 points Marriott points for the 5th night free = 0 points
Average Marriott points per night was only 14,000 because of the 5th night free. At that point, it was a no-brainer for me. I booked it.
AC Hotel Sant First Impressions
We arrived very late on the night we first checked in. It was close to midnight. When the cab dropped us off in front of the hotel, I noticed the big building near the hotel. It had a big sign – Barcelona Sants. “Hmm, that’s one of the main transportation hubs and it was just right across the property.” At that point, I knew I had made the right choice given our plans to do lots of day trips. Upon check-in, since I’m a Marriott Platinum Elite member, we were upgraded to a Deluxe Room. We were given free high-speed Wi-Fi. For our stay, we were also given access to the mini-bar for free. For breakfast, there was an option for a credit of 10 Euros per day or 500 points. I opted for points since I was not planning on eating in the hotel. I was told that the room we were given could range between 150 Euros to 250 Euros before taxes and fees.
How was the Deluxe Room
I was not expecting any major bells and whistles. The room was just simply perfect for me and my wife and the kind of stay we had in mind. It was not the biggest room we’ve stayed at. It was a functional space that worked out well for us. Along with the basics (bed, TV, phone, shower, sink, bathroom, closet), we also had a little workspace, and two chairs, plus a Nespresso machine. Also, as mentioned, the free access to the mini-bar. Trust me, we used that mini-bar. The drinks, whether it was soda, juice, iced tea, or water, there was also beer, Pringles and the thickest Kit-Kat bar we’ve ever had. That fridge was replenished everyday. The mini-bar access may not seem that much, but when you’re out exploring the city or outside Barcelona, every little drink and snack count. We were able to bring 2-3 water bottles with us and Nestea cans during our day trips.
Inside the AC Hotel Sants Marriott Barcelona
During our stay, this hotel served as our place for us to sleep, shower, and unwind after a long day of exploration. We did take note of the following amenities inside the hotel. There was a fitness room, a spacious dining area with a bar. We didn’t get a chance to use any of them during our stay. But they were so well kept, and would not hesitate trying them in the future.
Around the hotel
The front desk staff helped with suggesting places to go, especially places to eat. When we arrived past midnight, we were so hungry and I thought we had no more options to eat. Laura (front desk) was quick to suggest the street just right outside the hotel (to the left was Carrer Riego), it was a street with restaurants that were still open very late in the evening. One place that stuck out was La Paradeta, a fresh seafood restaurant that we visited 3 times, and that will require its own blog entry.
The stay was so good, we extended
When I booked our trip to Barcelona, I was only able to book five nights at the AC Hotel Sants. The rest of the nights weren’t available using points. So I booked another AC brand. This time it was at AC Hotel Irla which was also in Barcelona. It was just a few miles away.
As we went about our days, we began to appreciate the AC Hotel Sants more and more. Its proximity to public transportation, and its quaint local surroundings – it was exactly what we wanted. On our 4th night, I checked with the front desk if the other nights have opened up for the rest of our stay. We’d rather not move to another hotel. The hotel told me that the other nights had opened up. It was a no-brainer. I cancelled our stay at AC Hotel Irla, and extended our stay at AC Hotel Sants. We stayed for a total of 8 nights.
Transportation to/from the airport to hotel
We took a cab to and from the airport during our stay at AC Hotel Sants. We arrived past midnight on our first night, and on the day of our departure, we left at 5am. The cost of the cab fare was approximately 30 Euros. It was no more than 15-20 minutes of a cab ride. But if you were to arrive or leave midday, you should be able to find a cheaper option such as a train that will take to/from the airport.
The AC Sants Staff
No matter where I stay in the world, be it the crème de la crème of properties, or it could be a sub-par property, but at the end of the day, it’s the people we remember. Here’s why. Upon arriving at the hotel after arriving past midnight from the airport (flight from Amsterdam), I had realized that my cell phone was missing. Not sure if I left it at the airport or during the last plane ride. Long story short, for over a week during our stay ay AC Hotel Sants, whenever I’d leave or come back to the hotel, I was worked with one or more of the front desk staff who tried to help me find the phone. It was a crazy toss-up between Schiphol Airport, Barcelona El-Prat Airport, and KLM. I got pointed to call, email, tweet them all, was given dozens of phone numbers. But you know what made the process bearable was the willingness of the staff to help me make the calls. I was about to make the calls from my room, but that meant that I’d be charged for the phone calls. The staff offered their phone near the front desk. As you might imagine, some of the calls required Spanish-translation (and I lacked the skills in speaking the language). So yes! This is a true big shout out to Laura, Monica, and Paula – the three ladies who patiently worked with me. At times, dialed for me, and pressed the right options for me. My phone is still missing as of this writing, but honestly, I know that I wasn’t alone in trying to find this, that I tried to get the best help possible, so maybe it’s just lost by now, and I accept that.
Will we stay here again?
You bet! Our room was not the biggest room we’ve ever stayed at but it worked. The room served our needs. The freebies from the mini-bar were put to good use during our day to day trips outside of Barcelona. The close proximity to nearby Barcelona-Sants made it so accessible. The array of restaurants made us not long to seek for other places, instead we knew we had great places to go back to near the hotel. The value. Yes, the value in points at 17,500 per night, and the 5th night free – big pluses in my books. Last but not least, the staff. They were simply wonderful, and went over and beyond my expectations. Thank you, AC Hotel Sants. Gracias!