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With Barcelona's thriving tourist scene it only make sense that the city has a plethora of wonderful hotels, hostels, guest houses and Bed & Breakfasts in which to stay.
Although you can also rent an apartment while coming to the city (especially for long periods of time), the beauty of a bed & Breakfast is that you have someone to clean your room and cook for you at a very reasonable price. It's also a more personal way to become acquainted with the city as often your hosts will help you map out your visit, provide you with local information and send you to the best and least touristy hot spots for dinner and a night on the town.
The Old City has plenty of great B & B's especially in the Born neighborhood. But if you're ok staying slightly out of the City Center, then check out the Eixample district which has a slightly 'posher' vibe and a variety of chic yet unpretentious places to lay your head. The Eixample apartments are often larger with elevators and brighter rooms. They're also cheaper in some instances as you're not in the heart of the action, yet you're close enough to talk or quickly metro anywhere you want to go.