OK, let’s just face it – we just can’t get enough of Barcelona! After talking to Luis and reviewing the Gracia City Hostel, now it’s time to hear a different opinion from the same hostel. We’re talking to Petra!
Travel-Hostel:First of all, tell us a bit about yourself, the staff, and the mix of cultures from the hostel.
Petra: My name is Petra ; I’m from Slovakia and I’m working in Gràcia City Hostel as a Online Marketing Coordinator, but often cover reception shifts at the hostel as well. In our hostel we have nice variety of people working. The general manager Luis is from Mexico, other colleagues Fran & Dunia are from Spain; Francis from Dominican Republic; Alexis from Canada. Between all of us we speak Catalan, Spanish, English, French; Lebanese; Polish; Czech and Slovak.
TH: How would you describe a regular work day?
P: My regular day in office is to ensure that we have good online presence on the internet. That meets we booking website that offers our hostel is micromanaged directly by us. There are always some problems because many reservation sites are not configured to serve hostel, so we have to search ways how to overcome these obstacles. Then it is matter of promotions, promotions and promotions.
While in hostel it is different. When working at the reception my main responsibility is to ensure that our guest feel like at home. We have duty to make their holidays really enjoyable. Apart of making check-ins and check-out, we chat with guests, give them advises and recommendations for Barcelona. We organize night outs or dinners, so they feel and enjoy Catalan hospitality. We are very lucky because almost all our guests are nice, friendly, easy-going people. Of course from time to time some problem will occur, but we try to resolve it asap in the most professional way.
TH: Wow, that sounds like a lot of work! But it’s worth it! Having visited your hostel I can easily say it’s one of the most pleasant I’ve ever visited. Speaking of, what makes your place different from a hotel? Is it the spirit/concept, or just because it’s cheaper?
P: Actually our hostel is not among the cheapest, so we are definitely not trying to compete on price. We like to offer our customer value to their holidays. Our catch phrase is Barcelona’s Life Experience, because we would like our guests to experience the real feel of Barcelona. You know almost as if you were visiting your friend abroad and he/she will take you around, you will have totally different experience than if you were exploring the city as a tourist. That’s what we try to offer to our guests.
TH: People in your city –do they usually go to alternatives to hotels or hotels? And why do you think this happens?
P: I think that hostels are becoming stronger and more popular. Many people find hotel environment sterile and boring. Whereas hostel has the social factor. For that reason many more people are not interested to stay in hostels as oppose to hotels (price is also factor). You can always say that in hostel one has to compromise its privacy, but it’s not like that. Probably all hostel would also offer private rooms as well. So to summarize there is no good reason to not stay in a hostel.
TH: Whenever you go to a new city, you always find out some things only after you get there. Could you tell us your best insider tips for anyone who comes and visits the city?
P: First of all, when people are booking their stay in Barcelona, they look for accommodation in city center ( whatever that means). However in Barcelona it is better to stay outside of city center. Why? Because most of touristic attractions are not in city center. For Example the most famous attraction of Barcelona – La Sagrada Familia is in district of Gràcia as well as Park Güell. So first advise is don’t book hotel or hostel is center you just spend more money and you’ll be far from things. And if someone worries that there is no night life outside of center, is wrong. Gràcia is full of life and one of the best clubs in Barcelona are in Eixample or Poblenou (so again no city center).
TH: Could you estimate (on the spot, just estimate) an average 7 day trip to Barcelona?
P: First day: La Sagrada Familia & Park Güell; at night tapas dinner at Gràcia
Second day: Free Walking tour in downtown, La Boqueria in afternoon relax in Barcelonetta beach.
Third day: Walk through Passeig de Gràcia, maybe some shopping in fancy boutiques; visit La Pedrera or Casa Battlò. At night Sala Apolo Cannibal Sound System fiesta.
Fourth day: full day relax on the beach of Sitges, in the evening enjoying the best seafood in Barcelona in La Paradeta restaurant.
Fifth day: I would go outside of Barcelona to Monserrat.
Sixth day: If this is Saturday, I would start at Raval, there is small artisanal market and I would have the best mint tea with baklava in Barcelona. In afternoon I would join the Boat Party at the port. In the evening I would find some music event (there are so many).
Last day: Take a cable cabin on the top of Montjüic hill just browse around and enjoy the views and peace of this place. Once you arrive almost on the bottom you’ll reach Castell de Monjüic and Plaça Espanya. If you go there by night you can enjoy magic fountain performance.
TH: Awesome! That’s quite a detailed trip, there’s still some things I haven’t check out from that list, I’ll be sure to do it next time. Now, could you tell me a bit about your experiences – the people you meet, the best and worst experience. What is it that you learned, do you happen to have any advice for travelers or for other hostel managers based on your experiences?
P: So far I have had great experience in hostel. People are nice and kind, friendly and fun. Perhaps the worst experience was a guy that was too confident that forgot to respect others, but other that that. In hostels respect for others is the most important because you have to share your life with others at least for that short period of time.
TH: Do you happen to have any information about fake reviews (because apparently that’s a thing)?
P: I don’t think that we have received any fake reviews and we would occasionally have real review where our guests just lie for some reason.
TH: What do you like to do on vacation and why?
P: Relaaaaaax Enjoying beautiful weather and nature. Going for walks in beach or woods. Since I live in big city, for me the best vacation is for me disconnect with civilization.
TH: OK Petra, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, and have a great summer!