The importance of an accessible hotel
This whole series of blogs on Barcelona began with reviewing MICs Sant Jordi. Why? When I was looking for somewhere to stay in Barcelona, I knew staying in a hotel would prove a challenge. Without a profiling bed, it would be far harder to position me. Without an air mattress I would be at a high risk of pressure sores. There was no way I could take my hoist on the train, and I wouldn’t be able to balance on a normal toilet. This wasn’t enough to stop me deciding to travel, and I remembered a review by Simply Emma about MICs Sant Jordi .
Before I go any further, they gave me a 5% discount for discussing them on social media – which hasn’t influenced this review at all.
Reviewing MICs Sant Jordi
It felt strange, planning to stay in a space that was between independent living apartments and a care home. However, it met my needs perfectly, so I decided to go with it. MICs stands for Mòduls Independents de Convivència. It is an apartment complex for people with physical impairments to live either alone or with their families. It has a 24hr care service available to residents (and guests can also pay for this), and all the apartments are adapted.
From the beginning, I knew I’d made the right decision. We emailed back and forth extensively, choosing rooms, carer rooms, organising passport copies, vaccine certificates etc. They didn’t require a deposit and understood that people’s plans changed. They just told me if I needed to cancel I should let them know. I had the benefit of speaking Spanish – so all of this took place in Spanish. However, many of people I’ve spoken to there since have excellent English.
What they offer
The offer there was incredible. They had adapted flats, with a range of bedroom and bathroom combinations. We chose one with a twin room for myself and my companion, and a single carer room. We elected to have one bathroom, in order to have a balcony. Then it came to the ayudas técnicas – the available equipment. I was able to almost mirror my home setup. I had a profiling bed with bars and an air mattress and a wheeled shower chair. There were hoists on each floor that could be shared, and they even offered hoist slings, though I brought my own. Unexpectedly, they even had a kettle – maybe a concession to the English. As I need a lot of boiled, cooled water this was very useful indeed – as was access to the shared washing machine.
They also offer both carers and access to a physiotherapist (and have an adapted gym space, restaurant, and hydrotherapy pool). For some travellers, being able to pay for access to their carer service could be both useful and cost-effective.
Reviewing MICs Sant Jordi – the flat
The apartment was spacious, with all the light-switches etc at wheelchair-user height. There was lots of storage space, and it all seemed very comfortable.
The kitchen had everything one needed, with:
- Two very good electric hobs
- A small combi-oven
- A big fridge with a small freezer
- A dishwasher
- Lots of drawers and cupboard space
- A breakfast bar (at a good height for me as an electric wheelchair-user)
The kitchen was oddly equipped in some ways. It had plenty of plates and cutlery, a decent number of knives, pans, spatulas etc – and yet no chopping board or corkscrew. These felt like unexpected items not to have – and ones we would have found very useful. However, this was outweighed by how great it was to have access to an adapted kitchen. It was far better than what I have at home.
Between the kitchen and the living space was a breakfast bar with two stools. It was exactly the right height for me to sit at in my electric wheelchair. This was really lovely and quite rare for me, though it might have been too high for a manual wheelchair user.
The living space was small – two armchairs by the balcony with a lamp. However, it didn’t need to be any bigger, and was certainly comfortable.
The balcony was long and definitely large enough for me to lounge on in my wheelchair.
The main bedroom had two single beds, each with a bedside table, call bell, and two plug sockets. I was glad I’d packed an extension lead, given the amount I needed to charge, especially as the air mattress overlay used one of these sockets.
The bedroom had a sliding door wardrobe with two large halves, offering plenty of storage space,. It also had an enormous window opening onto the balcony, such that lying in bed you felt outdoors.
We had to move the beds over slightly to make space for my wheelchair. Making space for a hoist was a bit tight, but manageable.
My profiling bed had a foam pressure mattress, bars as expected, and an air overlay on the mattress. The sheet didn’t quite fit over the air overlay. This meant I either had sheet at the top of my bed or the bottom, but didn’t have both.
The only thing to note here was that the hoists were mobile hoists, which for some people require two to operate. However, for me, this all worked brilliantly.
The bathroom had a toilet with grab rails, a shower with fold-down shower seat, and a sink with generous space under it. It also had lots of shelf and cupboard space. I requested a shower chair, which worked well both in the shower and over the toilet. It didn’t have a headrest, which was manageable for me but might have been difficult for others.
The single carer bedroom was small but adequately sized, and had a bed and chest of drawers.
Reviewing MICs Sant Jordi – the neighbourhood
The neighborhood was also really nice. As well as the restaurant in the apartment block, there were a range of small and very local-feeling restaurants. I found lots of small supermarkets, and (about 15 minutes walk away) an excellent organic supermarket and an enormous Carrefour Market. This delighted me, as I love a good supermarket.
Transport links for MICs Sant Jordi
The transport links were also very good. It’s right outside an accessible metro station (Tres Torres). However, that’s not saying much because – incredibly – most of the metro in Barcelona is accessible. There are also lots of local buses, and most of the buses have two wheelchair spaces.
It’s key to know that your transport isn’t free as a wheelchair user, unless you have a residents-only tarjeta rosa. Without that, there are no discounts on travel around Barcelona. I bought a T-Casual, which (for just over 11 euros) entitles you to 10 journeys. It is far more cost-effective than travelling on contactless, which you can also do. You have to scan this in on each journey, and on some of the buses it is hard to reach the machine to scan it.
These beautiful apartments made a wonderful base for the trip, and I can’t imagine returning to Barcelona and staying anywhere else. The ease of having a PA, the delight of having a kitchen with fridge, and the sheer comfort of knowing that my needs were met was a huge relief. This allowed me to gain so much more joy from my time in Barcelona.
Barcelona is a city unlike any other for me. I spent a lot of time here in my formative years. Being back has always felt more like a homecoming than time away from home, in the very best of ways. Staying here at MICs Sant Jordi gave me that – and gave me everything I needed.