Mare de Deu de Montserrat Hostel has a few amazing elements to it, but overall it could use some improvement. A real benefit for travelers who are driving is that this is one of few hostels in Barcelona with off-street parking, or really any parking, and it's free. Also, the setting is amazing -- the hostel is in a converted mansion, with beautiful grounds and architecture. However, the other facilities are barebones and could stand to be updated. The hostel also has no vibe of which to speak. Also, the price is not competitive, especially considering the more remote location.
The hostel is located out of the center in a quiet neighborhood up in the hills near Park Guell. It is an easy metro ride or a very long walk there. Some visitors might find that it is very far from the center compared to other hostels. Staying here would be recommended for travelers seeking a quieter experience, and especially not for those who expect to be out late, as getting back at night without metro service would be very long and difficult. The hostel itself is easy to find. It boasts free parking on the site (the whole hostel and grounds are contained within a perimeter wall), which is extremely rare in Barcelona. It is located roughly a ten-minute walk from the nearest metro station, Penitents.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The dorm rooms are very bare, and are actually located in a separate building connected to the more grand structure seen in photos. The beds are uncomfortable and there are no real windows, but simply blinds that tilt slightly to let in light. Linens come at an extra cost and are thin. While we were visiting, there was a large group of probably a hundred school children also staying, and they were so loud in the echoing halls that it was very difficult to sleep. We heard from the staff that they host these types of groups often, which could be problematic for getting a good night's sleep. The doors to the rooms lock, and lockers are provided, but bring your own lock (or buy one at the hostel). One other issue in the room is a shortage of electrical plugs -- we couldn't find a single one in a room for eight people.
The bathrooms are outdated and bare, and the facilities could be cleaner. The showers simply consist of a spray coming out of the wall, and require continually pushing a button for the flow of water to continue. Each shower has its own stall and each stall has two hooks.
The common spaces in the hostel consist of a huge mess hall where a free and very basic breakfast is served, several other rooms with couches, and outdoor areas. There is no kitchen for those staying but there are meals served in the mess hall that you can purchase. There are also a couple of lounge areas -- one with a tv, and one with a pool table and vending machines. There are many outdoor areas with benches and seats, lushly surrounded by garden and palm trees. However, most of the areas, even in the high season when we were visiting, are completely empty; the hostel is devoid of any sort of community vibe, and feels more like a large boarding house.
The only reason this hostel doesn't get a poor review is because of the amazing architecture of the building and the free parking. The ornate architecture and the setting of the estate are stunning, but they don't make up for the many drawbacks of this hostel.