We routinely follow RS advice, but in a rare departure we are tempted to stay on the outskirts of Barcelona in the area called L'Hospitalet de Llobregat (We have only 3 nights, in mid-May, in Barcelona, and this location makes transport to the BCN airport on the morning of departure easier.) We think that it is a 25 minute bus or subway ride into the city center. Bad idea? Good idea? We would appreciate knowing your experience regarding this issue.
My preference would be to stay right in Barcelona, as I like wandering about in the evenings. European cities tend to have lots of interesting things happening in the evenings (especially on La Rambla), which is something I really enjoy watching. Having to spend 25 minutes on a train to get back to the hotel is NOT something I'd ever do, so for me that would be a "bad idea".
It's very easy to get to the stop for the AeroBus in Plaça Catalunya for the trip to the airport.
Yes, the AeroBus that ends in Plaça Catalunya that Ken mentions is made for an easy trip to the airport. Finding a hotel near there would be the best!
Bad idea. You can maximumize your time by being in town instead of spending an hour each day commuting. It also gives you the option to go back to your hotel in the afternoon to take a rest before venturing out again for the evening.
Ditto on the advice to stay in barca. The airport is a breeze to access. Time is your most precious commodity and late night activities are essential participation to fully enjoying the Spanish experience.
Stay as close to the Placa Cataluna as you can, the airport bus from there is a breeze. I would not dream of messing up a three night stay just to make the trip to the airport upon departure easier. Personally I am pretty well resigned to misery on the days that I will be on a long haul plane ride, and getting up a little earlier does not make it that much worse.
I agree with the others. Staying outside of the center can be a more "local" experience. For the most part, however, everything you came to see is in the old center. The time and/or money you save being close to the airport is lost in transportation in and out of town each day.