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  • Catalonian Impressions

    Gran Hotel Central

    Granados 83

    Hotel Claris

    Hotel Claris

    Hotel Casa Fuster

    Hotel Casa Fuster

    Mas Lazuli

    Mas Lazuli

    Hostal Spa Empuries

    Hostal Spa Empuries

    Castell d'Emporda

    Castell d'Emporda

    Hostal de la Gavina

    Hostal de la Gavina

    Hostal de la Gavina

    Mas de Torrent

    Mas de Torrent

    Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona

    Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona

    Parador de Cardona

    Parador de Cardona

    Castell de Ciutat

    Castell de Ciutat

    Hotel Gran Claustre

    Hotel Gran Claustre

    Hotel Estela

    Hotel Estela

    Georgie’s Catalonian Impressions

    Our Spanish specialist Georgina Weatherley recently visited Catalonia in northern Spain. Below, she shares her impressions of some of our best-loved Spanish hotels and some of our new additions to the programme in the four key areas of Catalonia: Barcelona, the Costa Brava, the Pyrenees, and the province of Tarragona. Each area has its own charm and character to offer, and these hotels can be arranged in an endless number of combinations to mix art and culture, with relaxing breaks, alpine sports, and rural retreats.

    Barcelona

    The city of Barcelona is a dynamic and cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean Coast, famous for its Modernista architecture, including the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi, the charming La Rambla, and the maze-like Gothic quarter. Our Barcelonan hotels combine luxurious accommodation with the world-renowned culture and heritage of Spain’s second city, putting you within convenient reach of the art galleries, museums, gourmet restaurants, lively bars, designer boutiques, golden beaches, and lush parks that make Barcelona an ever-popular holiday destination.

    Grand Hotel Central
    This five star hotel is on the Via Laeitiana, just behind the Gothic Cathedral and across the road from the Roman wall. Surrounded by bars, restaurants, and shops, just a 20 minute walk will take to you the Passeig de Gracia, and 10 minutes past the Cathedral will bring you to La Rambla. The façade of the hotel is quite traditional of a five star luxe property. The lobby is styled in a contemporary way, with block colours, feature lighting, and comfy chairs. The Gallery, between the lounge and restaurant, is often used to host art exhibitions. The terrace has a fantastic infinity pool with views across the rooftops of the Gothic quarter, and a bar that serves drinks and snacks all day and is open for cocktails in the evening. I stayed in a Central King Room, which was comfortable, modern, and of a good size. The staff were always very welcoming and professional, and the location of the hotel is brilliant.
    Find out more about Grand Hotel Central.
    Stay 3 nights from £680 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Central Twin or King Room.

    Granados 83
    This four star hotel is located at the top end of the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona’s Eixample district, just about a 15 minute walk from the Sagrada Familia, with good metro links to the rest of the city. There are lots of designer shops in this area, as well as excellent restaurants. The hotel has a very contemporary style, combining exposed brick, Indian marble floor, and black sofas, but with the addition of many historic art pieces and sculptures from India, Egypt, and Greece. The staff were friendly and welcoming at all times, without the formality of the Grand Hotel Central. The rooms are surprisingly light with either the big windows at the back of the hotel, or the original windows at the front. Duplex rooms are split over two levels, with a bedroom and balcony on the entry floor and a lounge area upstairs.
    Find out more about the Granados 83.
    Stay 3 nights from £570 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a standard double room with bed and breakfast and private transfers.

    Hotel Claris
    Situated close to the Granados 83, the five star Hotel Claris places its focus on high quality materials and imported artwork. The pieces are impressive and complement the classical, elegant, and refined style of the hotel. The reception is a light, open room with marble floors, but in the winter of 2016, it will be split into smaller sections, each of which will have its own mood. The top-floor terrace is large, has a full size swimming pool, views over the surrounding neighbourhood, and a garden feel. Every Friday and Saturday evening, the terrace hosts live music and a late night cocktail bar. The restaurant on the terrace has large windows that are fully opened in the summer to allow guests to enjoy the warmth. The rooms are full of individual character and have unique features such as mosaic tiling in the bathrooms, lacquered floral murals in the Suite Duplex rooms, a full size oil painting in the Gran Suite Duplex, and a table made from white petrified wood.
    Find out more about Hotel Claris.
    Stay 3 nights from £585 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Superior double room with bed and breakfast.

    Casa Fuster
    At the top end of the Passeig de Gracia, the five star Hotel Claris has an impressive original art-deco façade. Surrounded by designer shops, boutiques, and restaurants, the hotel has pride of place in the middle of the street. This is arguably the most typically ‘Barcelonan’ or our hotels; inside, the original modernista architecture has been maintained with giant stone columns, the flooring is sparkling black marble, and the rooms are lit by feature lighting. The character is quite art-nouveau and definitely luxurious. From the rooftop terrace guests have views over the entire city, and straight down the centre of the Passeig de Gracia. On Thursday evenings, ever since Woody Allen chose to shoot ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ here, the downstairs bar is transformed into a Jazz Bar, for which advanced reservation is strongly advised. Mediterranean cuisine and modernista-inspired food from the building’s heyday are served in the restaurant, crafted from local, seasonal produce, and accompanied by Catalonian wines. Some of the rooms have charming French balconies, and the largest suites incorporate the building’s tower in a circular lounge with excellent city views.
    Find out more about Casa Fuster.
    Stay 3 nights from £740 per person based on two people sharing a standard double room with bed and breakfast.

    Costa Brava

    Popular with A-list stars and artistic greats, the Costa Brava is one of Spain’s most beautiful, but most overlooked, coastlines. Quaint villages, bustling cities, and peaceful beaches punctuate the landscape, which is dominated by the lush greenery of Emporda, rich with vineyards. Our hotels on the Costa Brava mingle high quality service, luxury facilities, phenomenal seaside locations, and historic, traditional properties, offering our clients a perfectly balanced escape.

    Mas Lazuli
    This stylish converted monastery is set just 40 kilometres from the French border, in the Dali triangle, just outside the village of Pau. Just a 15 minute drive will bring you to the beach at Roses. I would recommend hiring your own car, as Figueres then becomes easily accessible. A feeling of rustic elegance, with quirky and charismatic artistic touches, pervades, with model ducks on the stairs, small woollen sheep in alcoves, and bushes ornamented with metal birds. The rooms are light, white, and minimalist, reflecting the simplicity of the white-washed, farmhouse-esque exterior. With around 2 hectares of land, guests are free to roam the grounds, and bikes are freely available to explore the local area and vineyards. The wine produced on the hotel’s estate is sold in a small boutique near hotel reception. A quaint wellness room has massage tables, a Jacuzzi, and an individual hammam. In the restaurant, which opens directly onto a terrace for outdoor dining in the summer, traditional casera food is served with a gourmet twist, seasoned with herbs from their own garden. In all the 8 different room categories, the space is open plan with beds facing the windows or terrace and a neutral colour scheme. This is a really lovely hotel, full of charisma and charm, which would work well with Barcelona as part of a twin-centre touring holiday.
    Find out more about the Mas Lazuli.
    Stay 7 nights from £1075 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a double room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Hostal Spa Empuries
    Right next to the sea, just to the north of the town of l’Escala, is the four star Hostal Spa Empuries. The hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from some interesting Roman and Greek ruins, and there is direct access to the a beach just a few metres from the hotel. The building was originally a restaurant for archaeologists working on the site next door, but then expanded into a hostal for them to stay in. Over the years it has grown, and now prides itself on being ecologically sustainable, using natural materials from native plants. All rooms are designed in simplistic, neutral colours to put the emphasis on the views, which are either of the sea, the herb garden, or the spa garden. The spa has a hot pool with massage jets, a Jacuzzi, 2 saunas, and 4 sensation showers. Treatments are also available, using products that are all completely natural.
    Find out more about the Hostal Spa Empuries.
    Stay 7 nights from £910 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a standard double room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Castell d’Emporda
    This 14th Century castle sits right on top of the hill above the village of Bisbal d’Emporda. The views from the rooms stretch across valleys of fields, olive trees, and mountains. The property is very tranquil and traditional, in an area with lots of pretty villages with bars and small quaint churches. I would recommend hiring a car while staying at the Castell d’Emporda to enable access to the villages and your return up the hill to the castle.
    Find out more about the Castell d'Emporda.
    Stay 7 nights from £950 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Tower Room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Hostal de la Gavina
    The five star Hostal de la Gavina sits right on a spit in a private residential part of Platja de Sant Pol. The hotel building is surrounded by the sea on 3 sides, and, whilst being just a few minutes walk from one of the best restaurants in town, is separated from the hustle and bustle by car barriers which only let hotel guests and residents through; the setting is very peaceful as a result. The exterior of the building is very Mediterranean, with white-washed walls and terracotta roofing. However, the interior is much more elegant and classical than I was expecting; it reminded me of our classical hotels in Italy, so works as a good alternative to the Amalfi Coast. Informal lunches are served in the Garbi Restaurant by the pool; the Il Barco bar is designed to look like the inside of a ship; and the restaurant downstairs serves gastronomic food accompanied by live piano music and candlelight in the summer. There is an outdoor, full-size, sea-water pool on a huge terrace, private cabins that can be rented out, and an indoor heated pool in the spa. All rooms have a unique style, featuring a selection of antiques and artworks from around the world. I stayed in a Superior Room, which had a large terrace with a sea view over the tops of the trees. The higher up the room, the better the sea view. This hotel remains very popular with repeat clients.
    Find out more about the Hostal de la Gavina.
    Stay 7 nights from £1250 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Classic Double Room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Mas de Torrent
    Located on the outskirts of the small village of Torrent, this five star hotel is just 1 hour and 45 minutes from Barcelona airport. The original beautiful sand-coloured farmhouse has been adapted into a hotel, but still retains many of its original features, creating an elegant but homely style in all the rooms. Reception is located in the open and airy old stables, and the rest of the interior is decorated with lots of roses and plants. A bar adjacent to a pool room is housed in the old farmhouse kitchen. Head chef of the excellent restaurant has 2 Michelin stars to his name. Outside, the large pool has its own restaurant, and the spa has its own building, decorated in soothing light colours, with water features on the windows. For those who enjoy active holidays, bikes, tennis courts, and paddle courts are free to rent at the hotel. Masia Rooms are located in the old farmhouse building, Jardin Rooms are in the annexes in the garden and allow pets and children, and the Naranja Suites each have a large terrace and private pool. I really loved this hotel, as it offers the ultimate rural relaxation.
    Find out more about the Mas de Torrent.
    Stay 7 nights from £1350 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Type A double or twin room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Pyrenees and inland

    Inland Catalonia’s most prominent feature has to be the Pyrenees Mountains. Stretching along 450km and reaching over 3000m high, the mountains shelter a host of verdant valleys, picturesque villages, and charming cities. Snowy peaks provide a sublime, panoramic background, wherever you choose to stay. From the romantic old city of Girona, to the artistic capital of Figueres, inland Catalonia has a range of attractions to suit all visitors.

    Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona
    This hotel sits in the old part of Girona, next to the Cathedral, and has a historical style with motifs related to Saint Narcis, who was believed to have lived here. Each of the rooms is named after a legend about Saint Narcis, and have a stone motif with an explanation of the story. Though the hotel does not have its own on-site restaurant, many of its partner restaurants have Michelin stars. I would recommend this hotel for young couples and honeymooners, or those looking to explore Girona by bicycle.
    Find out more about the Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona.
    Stay 3 nights for £590 per person based on two people sharing a standard double room with car hire.

    Parador de Cardona
    This four star hotel is housed inside a hilltop castle above the town of Cardona, and has incredible 360° views across the surrounding area, particularly the salt mines. The town is easily accessed via a steep path, but alternative transport might be needed on the way back. The original architecture has been well-maintained to preserve the authentic castle feel, and I would recommend it for families with children who would enjoy the excitement of staying in a fortress. The restaurant is situated across from the hotel’s reception, and still feels like a traditional banquet hall; the food is just as traditionally Spanish. The Roman Chapel and 11th century crypt can be visited on one of the hotel’s tours. Most of the rooms have canopy beds, and are decorated with tiled floors and traditional fabrics in-keeping with the hotel’s style. The history and stunning location are the hotel’s most attractive features.
    Find out more about the Parador de Cardona.
    Stay 3 nights from £560 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a standard double room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Castell de Ciutat
    The drive to reach the Castell de Ciutat is absolutely stunning, as you climb into the Pyrenees and drive alternately through deep tunnels and steep gorges, following the suspended road along cliffs of sheer rock and past roaring rivers. The exterior of this four star hotel is styled in the same manner as a mountain lodge, and higher grade rooms have their own terraces with beautiful views across the nearby town of La Seu d’Urgell and the mountains beyond. The room styles are classical and homely, with floral fabrics and soft furnishings. Just behind the main building are the remnants of the old castle, the ramparts of which you can still climb to enjoy the view. A formal restaurant, Tapies, and a relaxed restaurant, Katia, are on-hand for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which are served up with views over the valley below. A large, private swimming pool sits between the hotel and the castle, and a Spa and Wellness Centre offers treatments, beauty cabins, saunas, indoor pool, and chromatherapy room. A Castle Suite is located in the fortress building away from the main hotel, offering great privacy and lots of space, as well as spectacular views of the Cadi Mountain. The Castell de Ciutat is an incredibly charming property with pretty rooms and very friendly staff, perfect for guests looking to combine mountain activities with characterful and luxurious accommodation.
    Find out more about the Castell de Ciutat.
    Stay 7 nights from £940 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a Type A double or Twin room with bed and breakfast and car hire.


    Tarragona

    Once an ancient Roman citadel named Tarraco, the city of Tarragona is a beautiful port city on Catalonia’s coast. Dotted with Roman and Mediaeval ruins, Tarragona is an ideal destination for historians. The wider region of Tarragona, as well as making up the aptly-named Costa Dorada, is smattered with ancient monasteries, painted with nature reserves, and veined with prestigious wine routes. Artistic cities such as Sitges follow the route down from Barcelona, merging the vast wealth of historical monuments and the idyllic natural environment with a unique sample of modern Spanish culture.

    Hotel Gran Claustre
    In the town of Altafulla, just outside the city of Tarragona, the Hotel Gran Claustre occupies a privileged location in the old quarter. This maze of winding streets provides hours of interesting rambling in the afternoon. For something more relaxing, walk down the hill from the hotel to Altafulla’s beach to spend some time on the sand. Here, you will also find a number of excellent seafood restaurants, perfect for your evening meal. The hotel itself is comprised of a converted convent and a more modern building. The guestrooms in the convent have more authentic historical character, and are named after their specific feature piece, such as slate floors or red brick walls. Warm colours and soft fabrics will make you feel at home, and large, abstract paintings add further interest. The older building has a solarium and Jacuzzi graced with pretty views over the historic quarter and beyond to the sea. Guests are free to enjoy the swimming pool framed by the convent cloisters, or the well-equipped, modern spa. We would recommend spending a few nights at the Hotel Gran Claustre as part of your Spanish touring holiday.
    Find out more about Hotel Gran Claustre.
    Stay 7 nights from £810 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a standard double room with bed and breakfast and car hire.

    Hotel Estela
    This next hotel resists explanation and classical definition. Blending into its city surroundings in Sitges, the Hotel Estela has an unassuming façade; however, inside, the true qualities of this hotel begin to shine through. Every inch of the interior is filled with contemporary artworks, establishing a sensational blend of colour and texture. The public spaces are regularly taken up by prestigious art exhibitions, the details of which can be gathered from one of our personal travel specialists. The guestrooms each have their own individual style, with 16 painted by Spanish artists directly onto the walls. The Stellar rooms provide a little extra luxury, with private lifts and more spacious living areas, but all are exceptionally comfortable. Outside, a swimming pool offers an alternative to the sea, encouraging guests to take the time to bask in their surroundings, before exploring the artistic city of Sitges. In the evenings, you can dine in the atmospheric dining room, or head down to the portside to discover the range of seafood restaurants there.
    Find out more about Hotel Estela.
    Stay 7 nights from £860 per person in low season, based on two people sharing a standard double room with pool view with bed and breakfast and car hire.


    Updated: 18th August 2016.

     

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