The 4 Star Raval Hotels available show a definite change in fortunes for this once rundown neighbourhood and offer luxury accommodation at often - but not always! - very reasonable prices.
The hotels in the heart of El Raval - the Silken Ramblas and the
Barceló Raval - are well-equipped and modern and seem ideally suited for
business visitors and conferences as well as tourists, whilst the Casa
Camper offers extreme luxury with prices to match.
The Catalonia Ramblas on Carrer Pelai and Hotel Millenni on Ronda de Sant Pau are both on the edge of El Raval so although ideal for sightseeing, you miss out on the funky atmosphere.
As an old time Barcelona resident, of the 4 Star Raval Hotels listed here, I'd definitely go for Hotel Espanya - it's in a perfect location and the Modernista building definitely is something to write home about.
You should also bear in mind that El Raval is definitely not uptown Barcelona - until recently the neighbourhood was a red-light district and though much improved over the last decade, it certainly hasn't lost its lowlife feel.
What's really great about El Raval is that it lies between La Rambla and Poble Sec at the foot of Montjuïc, which means that the location is ideal for those looking for a slightly risky Barcelona City Centre experience.
Pintor Fortuny, 13, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona
Located on Carrer Pintor Fortuny just off the top section of La Rambla, Hotel Silken Ramblas is located in an excellent spot.
Hotel Silken Ramblas opened in 1992 and its bright modern interior contrasts with the sometimes dark and atmospheric Raval neighbourhood that it is set in.
The spacious air-conditioned rooms at the Silken Ramblas with their stylish Italian furnishings feature flat-screen satellite TVs, minibar and free Wi-Fi and the bathrooms were designed by celebrated Barcelona Olympic designer Javier Mariscal.
The top floor of the hotel has a splendid terrace with its own swimming pool and adjoining sauna, which are great places to unwind from busy Barcelona.
With its well-equipped meeting rooms and business facilities, the Silken is also an excellent choice for conferences.
The Silken's Ebano Restaurant offers Mediterranean and international cuisine all day and I really The Klub Café at the far end of the lobby,which is open to the general public and a great place to stop for a drink or some tapas.
Based on the location and the installations, the Silken Ramblas looks a very good choice of hotel to me.
Rambla del Raval, 17-21, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona
Located on the main Rambla in Barcelona’s vibrant Raval district, the Barceló Raval is set in a purple-hued ultra-modern cylindrical building, looming above this former redlight district's main thoroughfare.
Diversity and multi-ethnicity are the order of the day in an area that dates back to medieval times and now houses many of Barcelona's cutting edge arts projects.
In many respects, the chic luminous rooms equipped of the Barceló Raval with state-of-the-art amenities such as iPod links and flatscreen plasma TVs are a testament to the regeneration of the neighbourhood.
Each bright, air-conditioned room at the Barceló Raval features a large plasma-screen TV with more than 70 channels, Nespresso coffee machines, iPod docks a minibar and a modern bathroom with shower.
Hotel Barceló Raval’s B-Lounge serves creative Mediterranean food, tapas and cocktails in stylish surroundings and there's also the fabulous Terraza 360º bar-mirador on the 11th floor.
You also get free use of the equipped gym with Technogym fitness machines and similarly the Raval Barceló is an ideal location for conferences and business meetings.
Pelai, 28, Ciutat Vella, 08002 Barcelona
Set on Carrer Pelai which runs from Plaça Catalunya towards the University, the Catalonia Ramblas is a short walk from the top of The Ramblas.
This is a great central location but, although technically in El Raval, Carrer Pelai is really just Barcelona City Centre and lacks the charm and challenge of the centre of the neighbourhood.
Housed in an emblematic early 20th century building, Catalonia Ramblas is another of the 4 Star Raval Hotels offering rooms the typical LCD TV with satellite, free Wi-Fi and air conditioning
One of the nicest parts of the hotel is the seasonal outdoor pool with a sun terrace, chill-out area and poolside snack bar, and in the summer, the terrace is open until 01:00
and has a summer menu, as well as cocktails and milkshakes.
The spa at Catalonia Ramblas features a water and relaxation area with a sauna, Turkish bath and soothing hot tub and massage and beauty treatments are also available.
Hotel Catalonia Ramblas also boasts the excellent Pelai Restaurant with its interesting range of a la carte Mediterranean cuisine.
Located in the back section of the hotel on Carrer Tallers, if you eat at the Pelai you also get more of a sensation of being in El Raval.
Sant Pau, 9-11, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona
Situated in a a famous 19th-century building with decorations by the great Modernista architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, Hotel Espanya has to be the star turn of these 4 Star Raval Hotels as its classically styled foyer and highly elegant dining room evoke the heyday of Barcelona modernisme.
The renovated rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV and air conditioning, and while less classical, are quite spacious, with neat but functional furnishings, comfortable beds, attractive tiled floors, and mellow drapes over the high windows.
Hotel España’s Bar Arnau offers a cold buffet breakfast, snacks and cocktails in a contemporary space.
As a Barcelona resident, I gripe slightly at the recent refurbishment of the restaurant which is now run by signature chef Martín Berasategui.
I'm sure the food is excellent but I used to come here when it was cheap and cheerful and not only has it lost some of its charm but its a lot more upmarket (and expensive!) than it was 20 years ago.
However, Hotel Espanya remains a Barcelona classic and its location on the still funky Carrer Sant Pau just off central section of the Ramblas, known as La Rambla dels Caputxins, makes it all the more authentic and my clear favourite amongst the selection here.
Elisabets, 11, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona
Set in the heart of El Raval on Carrer Elisabets close to the MACBA art gallery, Hotel Casa Camper offers modern luxuries in an old building and is possibly the most exclusive of the 4 Star Raval Hotels listed here.
The Casa Camper chain has two hotels - one in Barcelona and another in Berlin - two of the most style-conscious cities in Europe.
The designer bedrooms all overlook a peaceful vertical garden and rooms have free Wi-Fi.
Each room has a separate lounge, and there is a free 24-hour buffet, a second flat-screen TV, a sofa, a desk, a relaxing hammock and a balcony.
Casa Camper's Tentempié 24-hour snack area includes free water, soft drinks and coffee, as well as sandwiches, salads, soup, sliced fresh fruit and desserts andis certainly a lot cooler than the typical minibar in your room.
Similarly, Hotel Casa Camper's Michelin-starred Dos Palillos restaurant is run by former El Bulli chef Albert Raurich also takes an adventurous approach offering Asian tapas, which are totally in keeping with the arty yet multi-cultural nature of El Raval.
Casa Camper's definitely an interesting proposition who are looking for an original angle on luxury.
Ronda Sant Pau, 14, Ciutat Vella, 08001 Barcelona
Set on Ronda Sant Pau at the far end of El Raval, Hotel Millenni is 50 metres from Paral.lel Metro Station and being quite a walk from The Ramblas, looks more towards Montjuïc than the city centre.
I actually really like this section of El Raval and with the magnificent Sant Pau monastery and gardens so close you will definitely get an atypical perspective on Barcelona city centre.
Accommodation at the Millenni is brightly decorated and the climate-controlled rooms include singles, doubles, triples and suites and feature satellite TV, a fully equipped bathroom and free Wi-Fi.
A buffet breakfast is served daily andthere is an on-site bar
There is no hotel restaurant but you will find plenty of traditional bars and restaurants on Paral.lel and in the surrounding Raval district.
Guests have access to the gym, the sauna and a roof terrace with a hot tub and impressive city views.
There are 2 computers which have internet access, a small library with daily newspapers and a lounge area where guests can watch the TV.
Hotel Millenni looks a good option if a little off the beaten track.