Urban trips have increased in the last years as trip option for many national tourists. The economic crisis in Spain and the impossibility to invest much money in holidays, but the will to discover places, have resulted in trips to more affordable and closer destinations, generally in the same peninsula, so the fight is less expensive, or you can travel by train or by car.
Destinations such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Salamanca, Cádiz or Bilbao have seen how their hotels are receiving more and more sporadic travellers in search of an experience where they can enjoy the city, gastronomy, culture and leisure for short stays (2 – 4 days). These urban travellers look for quality at special prices. As the stay time is shorter than holidays in beach destinations, they use to always opt for accommodations with extra services –although they could be more expensive- allowing them not only to rest, but also to make the most of the destination and every minute of their days in the city.
They generally opt for hotels in the centre of Madrid with gastronomic experiences and discounts for shows; charming accommodations in Barcelona, where they can enjoy the spaces, design, modernity (and modernism, of course)… But they also look for other alternatives, beyond these two big and emblematic capitals: hotels in the old town of Seville or accommodations in Salamanca right in Plaza Mayor are the most sought-after, so much that you should book long in advance if you really want to enjoy a good hotel at an affordable price.
Travelling for a couple of days to a any city of Spain is fashionable. Many are the urban travellers that plan many trips during the year, taking advantage of special events such as film seasons, theatre and music festivals, concerts by famous international artists, top level sport competitions… Cultural and leisure plans in the destination are clearly one of the main trip motivations. But they are not always specific events, there are also traditional experiences in every city: vermouth in Madrid on Sunday in the Rastro market; enjoying the university atmosphere in Salamanca; contemplating the nights in Granada; discovering the best flamenco tablao in Seville, the Guggenheim in Bilbao…
In this sense, institutional efforts with private initiatives have worked together to create products and experiences that improve the value of a destination and turn it into a place to visit not one time in the life, but many times. For the moment, there are many interesting projects in many big capitals in Spain. Some of them, have gotten almost immediate results, such as Bilbao, which has turned into in urban tourism reference in the north of Spain, because of its gastronomy, contemporary art, its estuary, nature and adventure tourism in its surroundings or mass events such as the BBK Live Music Festival which this year has filled all the hotels in the centre of Bilbao, campsites and apartments.
If we focus on Palma de Majorca, one of the most developed destinations in terms of tourism, we will see that –despite the economic difficulties of the local administration during these years- this city has significantly changed its tourism services, investing on the old town in order to revitalise neighbourhoods situated near to the centre, but not very visited, offering more attractive cultural plans targeted at both national and foreigners, promoting traditional celebrations and organising or supporting quality events. Palma 365 is a project that becomes stronger and stronger, and it is a model to make tourism less dependent on seasonal factors, especially in this destination which is too related to sun and beach holidays since many decades ago.
Hotel trade is also working in the same vein, not only in the Balearic capital –where we find new top level hotels in the centre of Palma– but in most of the Spanish cities. This is the case of the hotels in Seville, which are investing on combining new technologies with more traditional and typical elements of the city culture. There are also business hotels in emblematic areas of the city and new business ways providing spaces more opened to the general public, such as restaurants in hotels where you can book without needing to stay at the hotel.
This has been applied in hotels in the centre of Madrid since a few years ago. Some of the most renowned ones are the Malevich restaurant of Art Gallery Hotel, El Foro bar restaurant of Lealtad Plaza Hotel –with special service for business dinners- El Invernadero restaurant of Embassy Serrano Hotel or Las Letras Hotel’s restaurant, right in La Gran Vía, led by Paco Morales chef.
A similar system has been taken by hotels in Barcelona of Catalonia Hotels chain, which has some outstanding examples such as Barcelona Plaza Hotel. Most of them offer a clear local and Mediterranean gastronomy tendency, without leaving behind options for all tastes, even with special products for diets and intolerances. In these cases, the recommendation is to directly consult to the hotel before booking.