This Barcelona barrio has been named the ‘world’s coolest’ in 2020

Time Out recently announced its pick for 'The world’s coolest neighbourhoods 2020' and has named Barcelona’s Eixample Esquerra as number one.

This Barcelona barrio has been named the 'world’s coolest' in 2020

Esquerra de l’Eixample is the left side of the Eixample neighbourhood, stretching west from Passeig de Gràcia until it reaches the areas of Hospital Clinic and Sants.

The publisher said “This year of all years, it’s Esquerra de l’Eixample that points the way toward a future Barcelona where locals, not tourists, rule the roost”.

Time Out described several reasons that Eixample Esquerra was picked this year with the most important being that during Barcelona’s strict lockdown, the inner courtyards in the neighbourhood “became the focal points for the city’s energy – as in the pop-up Hidrogel Sessions, in which residents dressed up in costumes and organised mass dance parties from their balconies”.

The publisher also talked about the fact that the barrio was the centre for the Mutual Support Network, which was created to help the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis, and that local chef Ada Parellada started cooking for health workers.

Eixample Esquerra. Photo:

But, the neighbourhood is not only known for its social projects during the pandemic. Long before this, Eixample Esquerra was known (and still is) as Gayxample, because of its gay friendly atmosphere and number of LGBTQ+ businesses that have been set up here.

Gayexample sits at the heart of Eixample Esquerra and includes the area in between Carrer Balmes, Gran Vía de Les Corts Catalanes, Carrer de Comte d’Urgell and Carrer d’Aragó.

The Eixample neighbourhood is also one of the most attractive in the city, known for its grand Catalan Modernista architecture. Apartment blocks are tall and elegant, often adorned with typical Modernista elements such as bright floral patterns, ornate window trimmings and fancy wrought-iron balconies. Don't forget to look up, when walking around the neighbourhood. 

Where to stay

Axel Hotel – Axel Hotel was the first gay business to set up in the area and launched the start of Gayexample. The hotel is fun and flamboyant with chic interior design, and describes itself as ‘heterofriendly’. It also boasts a rooftop pool and bar area, which plays host to numerous wild parties. 

Hotel Axel Barcelona. Photo: Axelhotels

Where to drink

Dietrich – One of the most famous gay bars in the barrio, Dietrich is a Gayexample classic with a sophisticated design, as well as cabaret-style shows. 

Brilli Brilli – One of Gayexample's most popular cocktail bars, Brilli Brilli also hosts late night drag queen shows. 

Gingin Gay Bar – Across the road from the Axel Hotel, Gingin is a fun and lively hangout spot. As the name suggests, it specialises in gin and tonics. 

Where to eat 

Boraz – This smart fusion restaurant serves beautifully presented dishes, pairing local Catalan ingredients with Japanese and Mexican style cooking. Think prawn dim sum with butifarra (Catalan sausage), cod fillet with noodles and seafood pesto or pork taco made with blue corn. 

Semproniana – Chef Ada Parellada's restaurant is housed in an old publishing house and book shop and is full of colour, knick knacks, history and mismatched furniture. Dishes focus on local Catalan ingredients and include things such as octopus with spicy vegetables, black rice and pasta shells filled with black pudding. 

What to see

Mercat del Ninot. Photo: Jordiferrer/Wikicommons

Surprisingly for a barrio that has been named 'World's Coolest' there are very few actual sites for visitors to see. Here it's more about the atmosphere, the businesses and the clientele than anything else. A few places that should be on your radar however are Fábrica Lehmann, Espai Germanetes and the Mercat del Ninot. 

Fábrica Lehmann is set in the patio of an old factory and features 20 different workshops and creative spaces. It occasionally holds various open days and events, while Espai Germanetes is an urban garden, where various social projects take place. Lastly, if you're looking for somewhere to shop and pick up some local Catalan ingredients, then the barrio's Ninot market is the place to go. 

In 2018, Time Out named Madrid’s barrio of Embajadores as the world’s coolest.


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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.