Most Japanese tourists go in groups. We watched them from the balcony of our apartment. They were looking up to the historical apartment blocks, but never too long to lose sight of the man in front: the travel group guide carrying an umbrella, flag or (those were the practical guys) just the map with the full itinerary of two packed days in Barcelona. We watched them passing our apartment, from as early as 9am until dark.
We were actually taking it a bit slower, spending 5 days in an apartment in the Eixample area of Barcelona. From our temporary home we watched the busy street life passing us by. We could see the towers of the Sagrada Familia, the most surreal cathedral in the world if you ask me. My son waved from the balcony when I returned from buying freshly baked bread in the bakery store around the block. On the corner local people drank their coffee sitting on a bar’s terrace while reading the newspaper or vividly exchanging opinions with their discussion partner. The butcher next door cut thin pieces of the best ham in the world.
We spent 5 days in Barcelona, Spain, and after 2 days already we called our apartment home.
Recently I saw an online commercial where the company very nicely tapped into the travelers emotion of that very first moment when you open the door to your apartment or hotel room: is it going to be like you thought it would be, like the pictures on the website? Will you be happy or disappointed? That particular moment that can make or break your holiday.
I recognize that feeling, don’t you? Let me show you our apartment and you can tell us if we were happy or disappointed.
We arrived on Sunday evening around 10pm. We rented the apartment from a local woman and she came over from her house to welcome us. It was a quick 10 minute explanation and key handover. The apartment was not extremely big but I guess that’s not an exception in this part of Barcelona. The place offered everything we would need (and more): a kitchen with dishwasher, laundry machine, microwave, and refrigerator. It had a bathroom with large shower and separate toilet. Our kids had their own bedroom and were of course immediately ‘fighting’ about who could sleep on top in the bunk bed!
We loved the mix of modern design and historical details. We were convinced this apartment was not going to let us down!
It didn’t..not at all! For these kinds of city trips I honestly believe we will not return to hotels anymore. Having a more authentic stay in apartments offered by locals is far more fun and brings a different experience all together. When you greet the old lady living on the first floor who is sweeping her hallway and you get a glimpse of how she has decorated the place where she probably lived all her life, that’s far better than most of the hotels out there.
Every apartment is hosted by local people and online accommodation service Go With Oh acts as the intermediate. The local host will welcome you in the apartment (at least in our case). That is also why there is a small fee for late arrivals. If you want to avoid that, make sure to check your flight options before booking.
The location of this particular apartment is superb: you can see the towers of Sagrada Familia from the balcony (read all about Sagrada Familia in a special post on this blog)! Right down on the street you will find supermarkets, restaurants and bakeries. The closest subway station is Sagrada Familia (3 min walk) and from there you can reach the whole city extremely fast and efficient. The apartment also offered books and maps of Barcelona.
Go With Oh is the intermediate between the local host and you. However, once you are in the apartment, you can always contact the host directly. We had a minor plumbing problem, but after an email the owner immediately arranged for a plumber. The problem was fixed on the same day.
Go With Oh provides you with discount coupons on attractions and guided tours. We didn’t go on any guided tour as we rather make our own plans. By the way, some of the main attractions (Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo) are quite expensive. Entrance tickets are between 15 and 20 Euro (per person) which can add up quickly if you travel with kids (although sometimes small children are free of charge).
Booking is easily done online, with each destination having its own website (for Barcelona it’s Oh-Barcelona.com). Booking confirmation is clear and comprehensive, including the contact details of the local apartment owner.
Go With Oh has a good presence on social media. You can use their Twitter or Facebook channels for example when you have questions during your trip (about the apartment or about the city).
Would we recommend this apartment? Yes, for sure! Check out our apartment or any other in the same Sagrada Familia area. Follow Go With Oh on Twitter and Facebook.
In the last couple of years many new online acccommodation booking services started on the travel market. Go With Oh (where Oh stands for Open House) is not just one of them, they already exist for 16 years. Go With Oh’s homebase is Barcelona, although they provide unique accommodations in twelve major European cities (and that number is growing).
Tip: If you are a travel blogger, keep an eye on their regular offerings for a long-term stay in their Living La Vida Local campaign.
Go With Oh invited us to come to Barcelona in February 2013 to try one of their apartments (and of course the full Go With Oh experience). Check out the interview I had with them earlier.
Do come back to Act of Traveling to read more about our stay in fabulous Barcelona.