'The Level' in the Meliá Barcelona Sky
The Melia Barcelona Sky is a superior 4-star hotel of the Spanish chain Meliá (according to Booking this is a 4-star Sup. hotel but on the wall at the entrance to the hotel 'The Level' on the 25th floor is attributed 5 stars). We were travelling and decided to make a 3-day stay-over in Barcelona in early July 2019. Our first criteria for selecting this hotel was that we had some 'points' we could use. Additional positives were the secure parking, the Spa, the central location, and the availability of the rooms at 'The Level' with panoramic views over the city. It should be said that the hotel appears to be tailored to business and conference needs, but we don't mind mixing with some 'suit-men' occasionally.
On Booking it rated only a 'very good' with a score of 8.1 (599 reviews) which looked a bit disappointing, and it did not fair any better on Trip Advisor, with just 4/5 (1,259 reviews). So our plan was to book a really good room, and see what they delivered.
We quickly spotted the building. It was not difficult, given that the hotel has 258-rooms on 31 floors, in a building 117 meters tall (or 115 meters, or 116 meters depending upon the source). The building is actually called Habitat Sky (after Habitat Hotels a division of the Barcelona-based property developer Habitat Grupo Empresarial), and was designed by Dominique Perrault. Completed in 2008 it cost €71 million to build. According to Wikipedia it is the 4th tallest building in Barcelona.
What you are supposed to see is a rectangular parallelepiped cut lengthwise, with one of the halves slid skywards, and the other anchored in the ground. The façade of the building is dressed with a glass and inox 'armour'.
The architect Dominique Perrault, who was responsible for the design of the French National Library, is said to have been originally inspired by the giant heads on Easter Island.
Checking out the website of the architect we discover that the hotel is in fact one of his more minor hotel projects, and that the client was Hoteles Sol-Meliá. Another source mentions that Meliá manages the hotel on behalf of Habitat.
The hotel is very near the Avinguda Diagonal which cuts through part of the city between Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes and the Plaça de Llevant near the Torre Telefónica (at Diagonal 00). So the hotel sits on the separation between El Poblenou and the Provençals del Poblenou, both in the Sant Martí district. This area was a working class residential zone linked to local factories, and as part of the massive 22@ plan the whole area is now destined to become the city's technological and innovation district. Near the hotel and a bit further towards the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes there is the Rambla del Poblenou which runs down to the beach and is a main commercial street.
The first problem was that our car navigation system had the access road in one direction, and in reality it was a one-way in the other direction. We managed to drive round and finally parked in front of the entrance.
What ever happened to hotel entrances that actually look like hotel entrances? There was no welcome and no on-the-spot valet service.
We should mention that we actually forward booked our room in Barcelona from the 'The Red Level' in the Gran Meliá Palacio de las Duques in Madrid, and inevitably we will make comparisons with the service we received there (albeit 'The Red Level' in the Gran Meliá in Madrid is more expensive that the 'The Level' in the Barcelona Sky).
In the Gran Meliá Palacio de las Duques in Madrid we were welcomed, our bags picked up, and our car parked for us. In Barcelona it was totally do-it-yourself. And if someone says 'all you needed to do was ask', frankly that's just a major 'cop out'. Pro-active service is key to creating a memorable experience.
The main lobby area is quite large, but the reception area is a bit dark and unimpressive. The receptionist welcomed us and informed us that we would check-in at 'The Level' on the 25th floor. She showed us to the lifts but did not accompany us, or propose anything about luggage or parking.
The rest of the lobby area is occupied by a sitting area and a large breakfast area.
Once we had checked in, I returned to my car and parked it in the underground car park. When I made my booking from Madrid we specifically checked that the ceiling height was in excess of 2 meters, and this was the case. However they failed to mention that the parking is public, although the lifts provide direct access both to the hotel lobby and to the upper floors. There appeared to be someone at the entrance to the parking, but I was expecting a secure hotel parking. In addition, the vast majority of parking slots are quite small and narrow, and not really big enough to take a large car.
So the hotel is essentially divided into two parts, the 4-star Sup. part, and the 5-star 'The Level' with its own separate reception areas, breakfast room and executive area.
Arriving on the 25th floor we found the reception area of 'The Level'. The receptionist invited us to relax and have a drink and a snack in what is a kind of executive lounge. This lounge serves non-alcoholic drinks, cava, wines, and snacks from 12:00 to 22:00 each day (according to the hotels website they serve "a variety of exquisite snacks and premium drinks throughout the day" which is a slight exaggeration).
After a short wait the receptionist was free to welcome us, explain the services and give us our keys. At no time was the issue of parking or luggage mentioned. So it was up to me to park the car and get our bags up to the room.
The hotel website informs us that "The Level at Meliá Barcelona sky raises luxury to its highest level" with its "exclusive world of design, comfort, and personalised service".
The hotel website lists a series of services included with 'The Level':-
Private reception area
Access to 'The Level' lounge with its snacks and drinks
'Tapas Time' with gourmet tapas and open bar
Dreammaker mattresses and pillow menu
Bathrobe and slippers
Luxury bathroom amenities by Rituals
Nespresso coffee maker and electric kettle
Minibar (with charges)
Individually controlled air-con
Electronic door locks
Safe big enough for portable computer
Bath and separate walk-in shower with rain shower
Make-up mirror (ours was chipped)
wi-fi throughout the entire hotel
Daily newspapers (all I could see were Spanish newspapers)
Ironing service for one garment per room
24-hour room service
10% discount on Spa treatments
Use of a meeting room for 6 people for up to 2 hours.
Now some of these 'exclusive services' are available to anyone in any room in the hotel, e.g. separate bath and walk-in shower with rain shower, hairdryer, amenities by Rituals, 24-hour room service, wi-fi, pillow menu, minibar, safe, individually controlled air-con, electronic door lock, make-up mirror, etc.
We also received an additional 'personalised' note telling us that the 'Tapas Time' with gourmet tapas and open bar was only between 18:00 and 19:30 in the 'Skyline' bar on the 24th floor.
One good addition was that we had free access to the Spa.
As we found in Madrid, the Meliá hotels appear to have a fixation with narrow, poorly lit corridors. The walls of the corridor on our floor was 'decorated' with perforated metal traction decking that you see on trucks and scaffolding. Not a particular attractive option, and one that appeared to have nothing to do with Barcelona.
Describing our room is going to be a bit of a challenge, for two reasons, or more precisely for two rooms!
We had booked and pre-paid for a 'Master Suite Sea View' which on the hotel website is presented as an "extraordinary 80m2 suite" having a sea view, a safe large enough for laptop, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, executive lounge access and a pool view.
It is amazing how they put on the same descriptive level an "80m2 suite" on the 23rd floor with the wonderful and exotic advantage of a "safe large enough for a laptop".
But what caught my attention was the 'pool view'. Of course it does not say which pool, but we are to assume that it's the hotel pool. Now the suite is on the 23rd floor and the pool is directly attached to the side of the building 17 floors below. If you squeeze your nose to the window and look directly down you can just about see the pool.
Am I likely to want to book this 80m2 suite for such a view?
Arriving, we picked up our key, went back down to park the car, brought back up our bags, and managed to enjoy the 'Tapas Time'. We also enjoyed the sea view, even if there was a substantial heat mist that made it almost impossible to see the coast line. Our room was nice, we showered in the nice walk-in shower with rain shower, had a quick look at our flat-screen TV, and enjoyed our Dreammaker mattresses and pillows.
We were welcomed in our room with a bottle of chilled Freixenet 'blanc de blancs' cava, and a nice selection of prepared fruit. We ate the fruit but left the cava. The next day they replace the cava with a new bottle of the same chilled cava, along with a few very nice chocolates.
Waking up the next morning we went up one floor for breakfast. Returning to the room we were able to finally have a look around. We had a good nights sleep, and the view was fine even if very hazy (the view of the second day was better).
The TV was flat and big. We had the minibar, and the complementary cava was still on the small table in front of the TV. The separate WC, twin handbasins, and double walk-in shower were very nice. But something was missing.
Even with the best will in the world, a bedroom and bathroom don't make up an 80m2 suite. Looking around there were two locked doors.
So back up to 'The Level' reception area on the 25th floor. Sorry, they had forgotten to open the doors for our suite. They would send someone. And they came, opened the two doors, and left.
Now finally we had our 80m2 suite. We discovered a second entrance door, a guest WC, and a living room and separate dining room.
Franky I found this mistake unacceptable, and the total lack of interest of the staff all the more unacceptable.
As a guest in 'The Level', breakfast options included the main breakfast area in the lobby and the private breakfast area in the Skyline on the 24th floor.
We must admit the breakfast on the 24th floor was perfect. Freshly pressed orange juice, yogurts, fresh fruit, pastries, etc., and eggs 'any-way', etc. Everything we could want for a good breakfast.
Between 18:00 and 19:30 a free 'Tapas Time' was offered (for selected guests) in the Skyline.
The Spa was on the 5th floor and offered the usual sauna and steam room, along with showers and a cool plunge pool.
The Spa offered a changing rooms with shower, the usual towels, etc. and a small 'circuit' including a sauna, steam room, a cool plunge pool, and 3 different types of showers. As a guest of 'The Level' the Spa was included.
On my first visit the first shower did not work, and the second shower soon gave up. The steam room was perfect, but the sauna was at least 10-15°C too cool. For my second visit the first shower worked more-or-less, the second shower worked perfectly, and the sauna was still simply not hot enough (but the steam room was perfect).
I've entitled this section 'negatives' but this is not to suggest that our 3-day stay was only negative.
No secure hotel parking
No pro-active help with parking or luggage
Poor overall reception experience, including forgetting to unlock the doors for the suite, and missing the opportunity to accompany clients to the suites to show them around, etc.
Nowhere to layout a suitcase and unpack (space was enough once unpacked)
No USB charging points
I would have liked some cable TV films, etc.
Newspapers are mentioned, but I did not see any international newspapers
No shower caps in the bathroom
In an 80m2 suite, no space for a bidet
Decor in the rooms was a bit dull (putting two books on Gaudí in the dining room did not 'lift' the rooms decor from functional to inspirational, although the full highly windows looking over the city was nice)
Frankly I did not expect to find a very ordinary divan-bed in the sitting room of a 'master suite'
The air-con was set at 16°C and there was no way to get it back to a normal temperature, except by switching it off and waiting
The door to 23-02 did not lock from the interior (but it did for 23-01)
On our second day we left the room at about 10:30 and when we returned the servicing of the room had not been done, we had to wait until after 15:00 before the girl turned up
Two of the shower units in the Spa did not work on one day, and the temperature of the sauna was far too low.
A few of the positives:-
Good views from the 23rd floor, not great, but good…
Plenty of space in the suite, comfortable seating arrangements, nice dining table, etc.
Rooms, etc. looked properly cleaned, etc.
Functional mix of colour, textures and light colour woods (even if a bit dull and lacking character)
Lots of lighting options (and 44 light switches)
Three minibars and two Nespresso machines, with capsules, etc.
A separate WC with the bathroom, and another separate guest WC
Three very large flat-screen TV's
The double sized shower in the bathroom
Very good breakfast experience, and we appreciated the lounge snacks and 'Tapas Time'.
Retuning to my comparison with the 'The Red Level' in the Gran Meliá Palacio de las Duques in Madrid, here in Barcelona there was no attempt to create the same quality of experience.
The issue of price is the one thing that annoys me the most. Six weeks earlier I booked and prepaid our stay using the desk services in 'The Red Level' in our Madrid hotel. Arriving in Barcelona I found that I could have booked on the Meliá website exactly the same suite for almost 50% less!
I can see no future motivation in pre-booking with the Meliá hotel chain when they offer such heavy discounts (albeit for short periods). For the price I paid I am sure I could have easily found an equally good (and probably better) experience in Barcelona with almost any of the other 5-star hotels in the city.
I must say that the price of the suite in Barcelona was more or less the same as our room in 'The Red Level' in the Gran Meliá Palacio de las Duques in Madrid. However, the level of satisfaction was not the same. I'm not a fan of numerical scores, but having mention that 9.2 might have been about right for our experience in Madrid, I can't see how the Barcelona Sky could score even close to 8. We hoped for the same experience in Barcelona as in Madrid, but we were deeply disappointed.