Review: Renfe AVE Preferente, Barcelona – Madrid

After several days in Barcelona, it was time to re-position back to Madrid for our return ticket back home to Canada. Instead of an internal flight, we stuck to the convenient and now tried and tested train trip from city centre to city centre. Spain does train travel right with comfortable Renfe AVE service, which led to an enjoyable transportation experience.

This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Renfe AVE Preferente Business, Barcelona Sants – Madrid Atocha

For our return train trip, we had the same routing, Barcelona Sants to Madrid Atocha. After checking out of the AC Hotel Barcelona Sants and our high risk roll of luggage across the Sants Train Station square, we sought seclusion and security in the much more impressive looking Renfe Sala Club in Barcelona Sants. 

Inside the Renfe Sala Club at Barcelona Sants:

The entry was significantly better marked. It was also interesting to see that this particular lounge was before the security screening checkpoint, or on the public side, compared to the Madrid Atocha lounge which was on the secure side. Access today was provided courtesy of the business class status of our ticket.

The much more easily located Renfe Sala Club at Barcelona Sants
Renfe Sala Club

Once inside, we were treated to a quiet room that was decorated in a manner similar to the BMI Lounge in London. A wild print was across the beverage wall, and a delicate curtain separated the seating and dining areas. 

Renfe Sala Club Seating
High Top Chairs
Renfe Club Loungers
Sleek Spaces

The usual snacks were on offer, in addition to canned olives. As in our Renfe Sala Club experience in Madrid, other than beer, there was no alcohol on offer. 

Teas and Coffees
Somewhat uninspiring snacks

Monitors were available to help you keep track of the time and the assigned train platforms.

On time for a 3 PM departure…

Before we knew it, it was time to head down to the train platform for our trip from Barcelona to Madrid.

On Board Renfe AVE Barcelona to Madrid:

When it was time to depart, we descended into the dark basement of Barcelona Sants and boarded our train.

Renfe AVE
Barcelona – Madrid (Barcelona Sants – Zargoza Deli – Madrid Puerta de Atocha) 
AVE 3152 – Preferente Class (business – 3 class train)
0:300 PM – 5:45 PM
May 26, 2012
Fare: Web
Cost: 88.25€ (per pax)

I was curious to see what turista (economy) class was like so once I was on board, I took a little walk around. It was pretty packed to say the least. It was a slightly tighter seats in a 2-2 configuration, instead of a 1-2 configuration in Preferente. There were also lots of children being settled down before the big train ride. This was on a Saturday mid day which was likely a good time for families to travel. 

Getting ready to depart in the dark basement of Barcelona Sants

We ended up returning to our Preferente Business Class seats. The seats were much like our trip down. They were comfortable without being over the top luxurious.

Renfe AVE Preferente Business Class Seats

For a little orientation, I went to check out the Cafeteria car. It offered the usual take away snacks.

Cafeteria Car

I returned to preferente where the menus were being handed out for the day. Today’s lunch was a smoked salmon appetizer, gazpachio cold soup, and chicken breast with olive oil.

Renfe AVE Preferente Class Menu
Smoked salmon appetizer, gazpachio cold soup, and chicken breast with olive oil.
Verdejo Wine on offer

The ride back was pretty uneventful with similar scenery. 

Passing by villages at 250 km/h

Before long, we arrived gracefully in Madrid’s Atocha Station. We self transferred to our hotel for the night.

Arriving to Madrid’s Atocha


Renfe AVE was a pleasant way to travel between the two cities. Unfortunately, this convenience does not come cheap! Our tickets Round Trip were 151€€ each ($190 USD). We likely saved on taxi transfers by not having to travel out to the airport on each flight which offset the more expensive fares. Overall, our experiences on Renfe AVE Preferente Domestic were much better than our recent DB Bahn domestic First Class experiences in Germany. We would easily use them again on our journeys around domestic Spain.

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