We went to the GP a couple of years back and stayed in Abu Dhabi. Our hotel did a free shuttle service which was great, however taxis were pretty cheap so used them too.
Planning to go again this year, staying on Yas Island in the Viceroy. They were offering a really good rate with free cancellation on the at the time unconfirmed new date. Had nothing to loose so booked it. Still can’t believe it, but really looking forward to benefiting from staying at a close location to the circuit, something we have never been fortunate enough to do before (apart from camping in a field at Silverstone ;) ). Counting down to tickets going on sale…..
With regard to doing it yourself or a package tour. We did a package tour the first time we went abroad, we found it quite restrictive, missed track action and was expensive. A bit of research on the net made it easy for us to get a shuttle bus from the airport to our hotel and get trains from Barca to Montmelo. We can’t speak Spanish, but we did take a phrase book and managed to get along.
We went two years ago, stayed in Barcelona and took the train up each day, travel very cheap compared to our train journeys from Nice to Monaco the following week. There was a little road train you could use to get from the village of Montmelo up to the track if required, we managed the walk no problem, 20-30 minutes uphill.
General admission was what we did too, you can get into the grandstands on the Friday which was great. We sat on “Alonso Hill”, atmosphere was great! Everytime Alonso went past the Spanish fans were cheering him. Hamilton broke down in front of us promoting Alonso, the fans went crazy! You would need to get there fairly early on race day, although watching on the telly this year, the hill looked a bit quieter than when we were there.
I would recommend getting a hotel close to a train station. We went for the Sants train station, five minute walk away perfect after a day at the track.
You can bring food in to the track, but I remember bags being checked prob for glass bottles.