Ash
Written by Ash

Find The Best Area to Stay in Barcelona (+ Star Guide)

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If you don’t know the best area to stay in Barcelona you’re not alone.

When I came to this city I had to live in about 5 or 6 of them before I even got my bearings.

All these years later and I’m still not sure myself.

Don’t worry though. From drink districts to peaceful precincts and everything in between you’ll find them on my list – so let’s take a quick tour around the city.

Where Should I Stay in Barcelona?

Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned veteran this is always a great question.

Tourists usually only stick to about nine or ten neighbourhoods (barrios) due to an area’s:

I’ll be breaking down the areas to stay using this criteria.

Keep in mind there are no rankings here. This is simply a review of the areas based on my long experience of living in the city and talking with tons of tourists on the blog.

If after reading you’re looking for any combination of the above and still aren’t sure then write me in the comments below or check my accommodation finder for some custom advice.

Once you’ve found the best area you can also check my Airbnb discount homestay, hostel and holiday apartments pages.

Make sure you click the blue buttons to find the best deals on accommodation in each area.

The Best Area to Stay in Barcelona

a ton of tourists looking for things to do on the rambla barcelona

Las Ramblas

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★★  Relax: ☆☆☆☆

It’s not a neighbourhood but Barcelona’s most famous street is tourist central.

Pros

Nearly every form of airport transport gets you here in a hurry. There are three metro stops along the street including Liceu and Drassanes plus the legendary Plaça Catalunya.

If there’s any street that doesn’t sleep in Barcelona then this one is it.

The Boqueria Market is one of the best markets in the city.

Cons

A ton of hotels line the street made up of tourist traps of any kind from tapas bars to clubs to souvenirs. If you’ve got a room facing the street expect a ton of noise until early hours.

Nights bring pickpockets and pesky drug dealers and prostitutes.

Stay here only if you want a short walk home from partying or have found a great deal.

LAS RAMBLAS
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tourists shopping in the born barcelona

El Born/La Ribera

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★★☆☆  Relax: ★★★☆

If you like boutique shopping and cool bars then book a hotel in El Born.

Pros

The charm of this safe and central neighbourhood comes from its pedestrian only streets and tasteful street art which creates arguably the prettiest barrio in the city.

It’s in this neighbourhood that you’ll find the Picasso Museum as well as the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral. You’ll also be just minutes away from a great picnic spot at Ciutadella Park.

From here you’re also just a 20 minute walk to the beach. If you’re travelling with energetic kids this is in my opinion the best area to stay in Barcelona with family.

Also, if you’re looking for a party the nightlife isn’t far away if you need it.

Cons

If there are any downsides it would be that bars and restaurants tend to be pricey – but keep in mind this means quality too.

EL BORN
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the view of placa del sol in gracia barcelona

Gracia

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

Gracia used to be a separate town from Barcelona and retains some of its independent feel.

Pros

What will strike you about this very safe area is the never-ending supply of beautiful squares and its complete lack of chain restaurants and shops. This may be the only true Catalan neighbourhood left.

It’s the best neighbourhood to grab a morning coffee at a good local cafe or unwind with a cold beer or artisan gelato in a square straight out of a postcard. You can also get to Park Guell walking if you don’t mind a bit uphill.

You’ll get great rest here since it’s an area devoid of noisy nightlife – not to mention it’s pedestrian-only. I’d recommend this area for couples looking for a low-key weekend.

Cons

Downsides? If you’re deep into Gracia it’s not very accessible except on foot. If you’re looking for a party as well this won’t be the wisest choice.

GRACIA
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a pedestrian bridge in the barrio gotico barcelona

El Gotico

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★★  Relax: ★☆☆☆

Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is a maze of bars and restaurants without end.

Pros

Locals go here for big nights at quirky bars or bumping clubs. If you’re looking for the best area to stay in Barcelona for nightlife or on a stag do/bachelor party then this is it.

This neighbourhood of contrasts gives us the famous Barcelona Cathedral and the classic square Plaça Reial. You’ll also be right in the thick of Barcelona’s best shopping street Portal de L’Angel.

For solo travelers this will be your best bet to meet people.

Cons

For downsides the beach is about a 40 minute walk, things can get noisy at night, and you’ll have to dodge some tourist traps – but that’s all in a days work in Barcelona!

I suggest taking the Secrets of the Old City tour of the Gothic Quarter to learn the real history of the city, but if you’re not partying or taking a cruise I’d look elsewhere.

EL GOTICO
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a skateboarder takes a jump at macba in raval neighbourhood barcelona

El Raval

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★★★  Nightlife: ★★★☆  Relax: ★☆☆☆

Barcelona’s most multi-cultural area may be the most divisive area to stay.

Pros

On one hand you’re at the doorstep of the best ethnic food in the city and some of the best value bars in Europe. Dive bar and street food lovers should pay attention here. You’re also super-central.

The area is filled with students and home to great museums like MACBA and the CCCB.

Here it’s all about value and it’s easily the best area for adventure.

Cons

On the other hand there’s a bit of a nasty reputation with locals for being the site of a lot of petty crime – be aware of ‘friendly’ people you may meet in the street after dark.

I don’t recommend it for parents travelling with kids.

EL RAVAL
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the leaning homentage a la barceloneta monument at barcelona beach neighbourhood

Barceloneta

Attractions: ★☆☆☆  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★☆☆

This seaside neighbourhood is the best area to stay in Barcelona near the beach.

Pros

The old fisherman’s village still retains some of its charm of yesteryear with old women sitting on stoops chatting afternoons away while children kick balls around narrow streets. Look for the turquoise neighborhood flag hanging from the balconies.

If any neighbourhood hasn’t been completely taken over by mass tourism this is it – you’ll have a great choice of local bars plus the best seafood restaurants in the city. And it’s only 5 minutes from the beach.

Cons

What you won’t like is the enormous amount of foot traffic (and noise) moving through – try to get a hotel not facing one of the main streets.

With only one metro station in the area trains get crowded especially during summer.

There are also hardly any tourist attractions and little hotel variety.

BARCELONETA
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casa batllo in eixample neighbourhood barcelona

Eixample

Attractions: ★★★★  Central: ★★★☆  Nightlife: ★★★☆  Relax: ★★☆☆

This fashionable area is known for its fascinating grids that make great aerial photography.

Pros

While you may be confused as it is divided into 7 sub-neighbourhoods keep in mind the easily navigable streets of the area are consistently littered with trendy bars and cafes. It is also remarkably safe.

It’s home to some of Barcelona’s top attractions like the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila. It offers a ton of stops on the Bus Turistic – if you’re here to soak up the culture this is the area for you.

The ‘Gayxample’ district of the area also offers some great gay nightlife opportunities.

It’s easily the best area to stay in Barcelona for sightseeing.

You also can’t beat the high-end shopping on Passeig de Gracia.

Cons

If there are any cons to this area it’s that it’s not as picturesque as areas in the Old City.

You won’t be able to get to the beach so quickly and there are not many great squares to relax and have a drink.

EIXAMPLE
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a nighttime showing of the magic fountain barcelona

Poble Sec

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★☆☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

This underrated neighbourhood finds itself in a picturesque area under Montjuic Hill.

Pros

What you’ll notice here are narrow streets following a gentle slope upward. Foodies will love the restaurant scene in this area and Calle Blai is a great street to get €1.00 pintxos and bottled beer.

It’s also a great neighbourhood to stay if you’re in Barcelona for a conference at the Fira de Monjuic. You’ll be close to the Magic Fountain show.

In all it’s in my view the best neighbourhood in Barcelona to stay for tranquility.

Cons

The downsides are that nightlife doesn’t really get going here – except the legendary Sala Apolo. You’re also quite far from the beach and may have to walk a bit uphill from the metro station after a long day.

POBLE SEC
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Poble Nou

Attractions: ★☆☆☆  Central: ★☆☆☆  Nightlife: ★☆☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

This up and coming area used to be the industrial heart of the city.

Pros

What we have now is bustling area full of warehouse apartments and new hotels. Having a walk through this area even in summer gives a sense of near-abandonment – but in a good way. Here you’re only metres from the beach and the streets are quiet as a mouse.

Taking a stroll down car-free Rambla del Poble Nou and its cafes and ice cream shops is almost like a small town.

Cons

Some prominent downsides are that it’s not walking distance to any main attractions. There are also very few nightlife and shopping opportunities.

POBLE NOU
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the view over plaza espanya barcelona

Sants

Attractions: ★★☆☆  Central: ★★☆☆  Nightlife: ★★☆☆  Relax: ★★★★

You’ll find this neighbourhood right outside Barcelona’s main train station Sants Estacio.

Pros

This is easily the most accessible area to the airport and another great area for those attending conferences at La Fira or any attraction near Plaça Espanya. This very utilitarian area has everything you need but won’t offer anything too special – if you get a good deal pull the trigger.

If you’re coming for football matches and want to stay near Camp Nou book here.

Cons

The downsides here are obvious as you won’t get much of a ‘go downstairs and wander’ feel – if you love discovering a city on foot then avoid at all costs. If you’ve got no problem taking transport to the centre then don’t be shy.

SANTS
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Follow Up in the Comments Below

Again, if for some reason you haven’t found the best area to stay in Barcelona for you then make sure you get in touch using the comment box below.

I am more than happy to find you a place to stay if you tell me the kind of holiday you’re looking for, what you want to see most etc.

Also don’t be afraid to join the area discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.

Anything goes!

Cover photo credit: Jorge Franganillo via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

288 comments
  • July 9, 2020 at 1:45 pm
    Leanne Edwards
    Hello, firstly I have really enjoyed reading your blog while planning our trip to Barca. I actually lived in Barcelona about 20 years ago while I was studying but it must have changed so much so I doubt I will even recognise it now. My husband and I are coming for 3 days in September. We are both 40 and are looking for a nice chilled weekend with a mix of sightseeing, nightlife and plenty of good food. Would you be able to recommend us an area that would fit that bill? Also what should we expect in terms of changes affected by Covid-19? Thank you. Leanne
    • July 9, 2020 at 8:01 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Leanne, Thanks so much for the kind words, glad we can help :) And I must say... congrats on braving 2020 and planning to come! You'll find the city a lot calmer than usual and that's always a good thing in summer. For what you're looking for I would check out El Born if you're leaning toward food/cafes being more important or El Gotico if nightlife and sightseeing is more at the top of your list. As for the changes it's hard to comment since every day it seems like there's something new, but you're now required to wear a mask at all times in public. Social distancing is enforced. Hotels and restaurants are being super cautious and offering hand sanitizer stations, PPE etc. I would definitely call the hotels for their individual policies if you're feeling extra worried. As of this writing though the virus is quite under control unlike some other places... fingers crossed it stays this way! :) Cheers, Ash
      • July 11, 2020 at 11:28 am
        Leanne Edwards
        Thanks so much Ash
        • July 11, 2020 at 4:35 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          No problem at all Leanne :)
  • February 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm
    Allison
    This was so unbelievably helpful when planning my trip to Barcelona. Thank you for taking the time to compile this awesome post!
    • February 15, 2020 at 9:11 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      You're very welcome! :)
  • February 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm
    Judith
    Thanks for all the great info on your website. I wonder can you suggest a resort close to Barcelona to suit us. We are traveling to Barcelona for a week in July with our two kids, aged 9 and 11. We would like to base ourselves outside the city, at a beach resort that has restaurants and facilities, but is not too busy. We’ll be looking for an apartment rather than a hotel. We want to be close enough to come into the city a couple of days, but also give the kids beach time and a trip to a water park. Any suggestions?
    • February 15, 2020 at 9:07 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Judith, You're welcome! Hope I can help :) When I think of kid-friendly resort towns near the city I always think of Lloret de Mar or Callela. They have tons of bars, attractions, water parks, close to the beach, and are affordable and family-oriented. I've got a post dedicated to Lloret: https://www.barcelonahacks.com/lloret-de-mar-guide/ Cheers, Ash
      • February 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm
        Judith Cryan
        Thanks Ash. Two great options to consider. I’ve also been looking at Vilanova I la Geltru. Have you any thoughts on it?
        • February 23, 2020 at 9:22 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Unfortunately have never been there :( That said, I've heard that it's cheaper than nearby Sitges (Barcelona's favourite day trip beach) and has much more to offer, being almost double the size.
          • February 24, 2020 at 9:17 am
            Judith
            Thanks Ash
  • February 8, 2020 at 9:14 am
    Sandi
    Hi Ash, I'm so glad I came across your website. It has been a huge help in planning our stay in Barcelona. My partner and I will be visiting Barcelona for 3nights in August. We plan on buying the Barcelona city pass and using the Aerobus to get to the city from the airport. At this stage we are looking at staying in Eixample within 1km from either Universität station or Placa Catalunya station so that we can walk to our accommodation. Our flight lands on a Sunday at 7pm. Is it safe to walk this distance at that time of night and is it possible with luggage? Thanks Sandi
    • February 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Sandi, Regardless of the noise you hear about Barcelona being a pickpocket capital etc. I wouldn't worry about this walk at all. These are major pedestrian and traffic thoroughfares with lots of people around. The pickpockets usually operate in the smaller streets way below there in Raval. You won't need to walk there at all. :) Ash
      • February 10, 2020 at 11:48 am
        Sandi
        Thanks for your reply Ash
        • February 10, 2020 at 5:22 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          No problem Sandi :)
  • February 5, 2020 at 11:45 pm
    Roy
    Traveling to Spain in early June and planning to use Barcelona as our home base for 1 to 2 weeks. Understand the city is bicycle friendly and wondering if you have any opinions on where a bicyclist might wish to locate for easy access to all that Barcelona has to offer. We wouldn't object to an interesting neighborhood that offers both public transportation and is within 5 to 10 miles from the city center. Your consideration is greatly appreciated and many thanks for such an interesting and informative web site. Roy
    • February 6, 2020 at 10:41 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Roy, Thanks so much for the kind words, always glad to help :) For cyclists I'd recommend Poble Nou as you'll be in striking distance to the beachside promenade which can take you into the city quickly. You may also want to check out Sarria which is almost up in the hills, a very nice neighbourhood but a bit far out. Just be prepared for a workout if you're coming back home uphill! Cheers, Ash
  • January 20, 2020 at 6:29 pm
    Lucia
    Hi Ash! First, thank you so much for such a great website and information! Absolutely amazing detailed information!! My husband will be attending the Technology conference there next month at the Barcelona Conference Center and I get to tag along. We plan on coming in 4 days beforehand to scout and explore as we plan on returning with our 18 year-old daughter in August with my brother and his family. This particular trip next month will be just the 2 of us. I am debating if we should stay somewhere else before the conference starts to get to know different parts of Barcelona or if we should stay all 8 days in the same spot. Would you have any input on this? We are using this trip to get a better idea of where to stay and what to see for our trip in August... We both love great food, wine, and live music! Not necessarily crazy loud over the top dance clubs/ bars but definitely still some nightlife!! We would love to see all the main attractions of Barcelona and perhaps explore the beach one day. Planning on arriving Feb 20 and flying back home on Feb 28th. We would consider something up to the $450/night range. Thanks so much in advance for your input!
    • January 21, 2020 at 2:18 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Lucia, No problem at all, glad to help! :) My instincts are telling me from the hop that it'd be a hassle to check out of one place and check into another. Even though Barcelona is a big city you'd be amazed by how accessible it is with the metro. There are stops everywhere and trains run every few minutes. You'll be able to see the entire city in 8 days regardless of where you're staying. I personally would just stay in the same place, unless you had some specific desire to experience multiple types of hotels. Based on your tastes it sounds like you'd be well suited to find a place in El Born. Two top places here around your budget at the H10 Port Vell and the Duquesa Suites. Take a look and let me know what you think :) Cheers, Ash
      • January 21, 2020 at 2:47 am
        Lucia
        Ash, Thank you sooo much for your quick reply! Could you tell me about how far of a commute we should expect from the El Born área to the Barcelona Convention Center on a busy weekday morning or evening? We would be willing to either use public, or private transportation, if needed. Secondly, what area is the Barcelona Convention Center located in? As we have began to explore hotels in that area, I am not sure where we should look if we would like to stay in a close proximity while the conference is going on (Feb 25-27). Once again, thank you sooo much for all your help! You are amazing!
        • January 21, 2020 at 11:10 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Hi Lucia, Are you referring to the International Convention Centre? This is located in the La Mina/Poble Nou area... it's not the nicest place to stay even though it's by the water, but luckily out of all the old town neighbourhoods El Born is the closest to here. Expect to get there in 20-25 minutes by metro or less by taxi naturally. I wouldn't worry so much about the proximity as long as you don't mind a little bit of a walk :) Ash
  • January 1, 2020 at 4:42 am
    Sophia
    Hello Ash, Thank you so much for this informative site! I've seen other people's comments about staying in the area prior to a cruise. This will be the case for my party of 9 at the end of May for 3 days; 3 people in their mid to late 70's, my husband and myself (both very active) and 4 kids; 16,15,13 & 12. Is there a specific location which we should focus on for lodging? We will want to explore, but are also aware that not everyone in the group is up for walking the way my husband and I normally do. I've been looking at Airbnb & VRBO, but haven't had much luck. Thank you for any insight you can offer.
  • December 31, 2019 at 2:58 am
    Alex
    Hello Ash, First time going to Barcelona for a week during the first week in april. What areas would you recommend? We are looking to adventure and have fun. I was thinking El Born? Please, let me know. Thanks! -Alex
    • December 31, 2019 at 12:26 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Alex, For adventure and fun I would take it up even one notch further and look into the lodging in the Gothic Quarter. It's here that you'll have just a ton of bars, it's close to all the clubs, and that's where most good nights out are had! Cheers, Ash
      • January 1, 2020 at 12:41 am
        Alex
        Ash, Although we are looking to have fun and adventure, we also want to explore. Plan is to go out to a club or bar at night a day or two and the rest days just explore and get to experience everything in Barcelona. Would this still be a good area to book an hotel? Thanks, -Alex
        • January 1, 2020 at 1:37 pm
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Hi Alex, This is still a fine option given what you've said, but it wouldn't hurt to include El Born and some portions of Eixample as you'll still be able to explore a lot on foot and be close to the bar and club action. Barcelona is also super well connected by transport so if it's between a super central hotel and one a bit further out that's of better quality I'd always go for the better hotel. Cheers, Ash
          • January 1, 2020 at 8:17 pm
            alex
            Ash, Any hotels you'd suggest for eixample or el born areas? Thank you and Happy New Year! -Alex
            • January 2, 2020 at 10:46 am
              ashley
              Team Member
              Ash
              Hi Alex, Yes for sure, but it's a bit hard to say without knowing budget/amenities/number of people etc. I've got a list of budget hotels here which are made up of many in the Gothic Quarter and Eixample: https://www.barcelonahacks.com/cheap-hotels-barcelona/ You may want to check those out first. If you're looking for something a bit more flashy or upscale then please let me know. Cheers, Ash
              • January 3, 2020 at 1:54 am
                alex
                Ash, My budget is $1000 USD for 6 nights. We are looking for something that is close to restaurants, bars, and main attractions. An hotel that is very walkable, with a rooftop, and pool. Thank you, -Alex
                • January 4, 2020 at 12:10 pm
                  ashley
                  Team Member
                  Ash
                  Hi Alex, First off let me say that the prices will vary depending on your exact dates (Easter this year falls on the 12th of April, which is a sort of mini-high season) and number of guests. I've taken a look though with some dummy dates between April 3-9 for two people (likely number) in the Gothic Quarter and a few have come up that I've heard very good things about from my readers. Keep in mind though that with swimming pool as an amenity there is only one within your price range in the heart of the Gothic Quarter: Catalonia Avinyo. I would however say that just a few hundred meters from the Gothic Quarter in El Born there are some great options which are just as walkable, central, and new tons of restaurans/bars. One to consider is Ciutat de Barcelona. They've got a pretty cool roof terrace/swimming pool. Something else to consider is the Catalonia Portal del Angel which is also super central and a hotel I've heard great things about. Keep in mind however that for Spaniards April is not even close to swimming/beach season and many of the roof tops are closed. Hope this gets yoru search off on the right foot! Cheers, Ash
  • December 30, 2019 at 8:41 pm
    Sharon
    I will be in Barcelona 2 days in June prior to a cruise. I found a quaint hotel in the Eixample area. The cruise hotels are in the Sant Mart area. Do you think for general sight seeing one area is better than another. I am not too concerned about proximity to the port. I'd rather focus on being near the sights of Barcelona. Thanks.
    • December 31, 2019 at 11:12 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Sharon, Though both of these neighbourhoods are in general fine for sightseeing it is very tough to comment without any exact coordinates/names etc. Eixample is a massive area so you could be within walking distance to major things, or even a bit far out requiring more transport. Please let me know where these options are exactly and I can fill you in better! Cheers, Ash
      • January 11, 2020 at 8:59 pm
        Sharon M Karpen
        Thanks for your response. The hotel is The Vasanta boutique hotel and the address is: Carre de Casp, 31, Barcelona. Thank you for any information you can provide.
        • January 12, 2020 at 4:05 am
          ashley
          Team Member
          Ash
          Ok! Yes, you could barely be in a better position for sightseeing, you'll be able to walk to a ton of places and just be surrounded by options... bars, restaurants, you name it. It also isn't so bad for getting to the cruise port. Sounds like a good choice to me :)
  • December 26, 2019 at 5:07 am
    Claudio
    Hello Ash, all this info is great. Thank you for sharing !! We are flying in mid January and stay for a week. It is our first time and we are confused..We are 4, my wife, my two kids 10 and 12 and myself. We will be assisting to a Barcelona game (soccer) .We book for a week and we are renting a car. What would be in your opinion best are to look for a place (apartment, house or hotel) to stay? I do not mind to drive 20 min. Thanks in advance.
    • December 27, 2019 at 10:24 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Claudio, Thanks for the kind words :) First off I'd say that unless you're doing day trips outside the city having a car is quite impractical as the public transport system in Barcelona will get you everywhere quickly and cheaply. Not to mention parking is quite expensive. Is there any reason why you've decided to rent a car? If you're looking for staying around the stadium then the Les Corts area is a good option. Otherwise for families such as yourselves I recommend El Born for its proximity to beach, park, and all sorts of other attractions... all the while being away from the chaos of the Gothic Quarter etc. Cheers, Ash
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