Georgie's Catalonian Impressions
Georgie gives us the low-down on her experience of Catalonia, and her most insightful recommendations.
Georgie’s trip to Catalonia, north-east Spain
Earlier this year, our Spanish travel specialist, Georgina Weatherley, flew back to Spain for a recap of our Catalonian properties. From sleek city picks such as the Grand Hotel Central, through quirky art hotels such as the Hotel Estela, to historic rural retreats such as the Parador de Cardona, the variety that our collection of Catalonian hotels has to offer is unrivalled across our Spanish programme. After her return, Georgie shared with us her top tips and the hotels that really caught her eye…
Out of the hotels that you visited, which was your favourite?
The hotels I visited were all fantastic and incredibly friendly and welcoming, but I think my favourite would have to be the Mas Lazuli. This is a beautiful hotel in a converted monastery that sits amongst vineyards in northern Catalonia. The hotel style is rustic-chic with light and airy open-plan guestrooms offering fantastic views over the countryside. The gorgeous infinity pool and poolside bar offer a great place to relax. The perfect choice for a romantic break.
What was your favourite meal while in Spain?
The Catalan culture, as with most of Spain, focuses heavily on the amazing cuisine that they offer. As such, grabbing a quick bite between meetings is simply not an option. I would recommend taking yourself on a tapas tour around Barcelona’s historic centre, heading down towards the port area, and picking a dish from the menu at each bar. Escalivada (roasted veg salad), bacalla al alioli (cod in garlic mayonnaise) and xipirons (fried squid) are my top picks.
What was the most interesting area/ town?
When people imagine Catalonia, they immediately focus on Barcelona itself, but if you are willing to put in the longer drive then I would recommend that you head north into the Pyrenees. I love outdoor pursuits, and for me the Castell de Ciutat in La Seu d’Urgell has the ultimate allure for couples and families looking for something a bit different. The rooms look out over the town below, to the snow-topped mountains behind, and the hotel has an extensive list of activities which they can arrange for guests including suggested walks, guided excursions, hot air balloon rides and rafting.
How would you recommend getting around Catalonia?
The region splits into three areas and with it three types of travel. To keep travel to a minimum then stick to private transfers to Barcelona itself, or the nearby town of Sitges and the Hotel Estela. Rail travel connects Barcelona with Girona to the north and Sitges, Altafulla, and Tarragona to the south. However, if you want to see more of Catalonia you will need to grab yourself a hire car and give yourself complete freedom to explore the Costa Brava and Pyrenees.
Do you have any top tips to give to clients?
Catalonia is a less well-known destination that many people don’t think about when considering their holiday plans, however it offers a wealth of hidden gems. For luxurious accommodation in a beautiful coastal location with rocky cliffs akin to the Amalfi Coast, the Hostal de la Gavina is a perfect choice. This secret escape tends to have much better availability in high season and offers fantastic value for money. For anyone visiting the area, I would also strongly recommend a visit to Montserrat, which is home to Barcelona’s patron saint – the Virgin of Montserrat. This mountain-top Benedictine Abbey is an atmospheric location and their world-renowned boy’s choir performs every day.
How would you sum up your trip?
My visit to Catalonia was a whirl-wind of hotels, but despite my busy schedule I had a fantastic time away. I spent quite a bit of time driving between hotels - and absolutely loved it! The scenery of sea, mountains, and groves is beautiful and you are constantly looking forward to the friendly faces of the next hotel who will have a café con leche waiting for you, alongside a comfortable bed and tasty food. I have a new-found appreciation for this fantastic region of Spain which offers so much more than meets the eye.
Georgie’s four Catalonian favourites…
Hotel Casa Fuster
At the top of the Passeig de Gracia, this stunning hotel still has its impressive original art-deco façade. For those looking to sample a true reflection of design and culture in Barcelona, the daring, modernista Hotel Casa Fuster comes highly recommended. Immersed in the lively atmosphere of the designer shops, quaint boutiques, and chic restaurants that surround it, and at just a few minutes’ walk from the Sagrada Familia, this unique hotel is definitely the most ‘Barcelonan’ of our hotels.
Prices from £730 per person for 3 nights bed and breakfast, scheduled flights to Barcelona, and private transfers.
Find out more about the Hotel Casa Fuster.
Castell de Ciutat
La Seu d’Urgell
Castell de Ciutat is a charming four-star Relais & Châteaux property built on a hillside in the style of an alpine lodge. In rugged isolation, the low-lying buildings are shadowed by evergreen trees, with a Natural Park, snow-dusted peaks, and the ancient ruins of a Roman fortification as a backdrop. Tàpies Restaurant exudes undeniable romance, with excellent service, striking vistas, and a menu of regional produce, including truffles, mushrooms, and cheeses. Fireside warmth envelopes a cosy library space, and guestrooms continue the pine-clad style. In addition to the Wellness Centre, an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi are idyllically set in the hillside.
Prices from £940 per person for 7 nights bed and breakfast, scheduled flights to Barcelona, and private transfers.
Find out more about the Castell de Ciutat.
On the dazzling Costa Brava, close to artistic Figueres, and amidst countryside freckled with flourishing vineyards, the Mas Lazuli holds a beauty of its own. This converted monastery and farmhouse has a pervading rustic elegance interspersed with charismatic details. Crooked trees, interesting sculptures, and trickling water are made all the more atmospheric by lantern-light on the sheltered veranda in the evenings. The natural hues of the gardens brighten the historic rooms. The luxurious feel of the Mas Lazuli is topped off by the handiwork of its Michelin-starred chef and the wine tours around the Mas Lazuli’s own vineyards.
Prices from £1,075 per person for 7 nights bed and breakfast, scheduled flights to Barcelona, and hire car.
Find out more about the Maz Lazuli.
Hostal de la Gavina
The five-star Hostal de La Gavina is a timeless and exclusive seaside villa located in an elevated position on the Costa Brava, overlooking the bay of Sant Pol. On a private peninsula, the 1920s-esque hotel claims glorious views over rugged cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque coves. Spacious guestrooms are luxuriously furnished with historical pieces and cooling wooden or tiled floors. Dining promises sumptuous Mediterranean flavours, particularly in the glamorous and intimate Candlelight Restaurant, set in a pretty sunken courtyard. Highlights include the lovely area surrounding the seawater pool, the hotel’s luxury spa, and the rocky seafront paths.
Prices from £1,250 per person for 7 nights bed and breakfast, scheduled flights to Barcelona, and hire car.
Find out more about the Hostal de la Gavina.
Why not combine these four favourites?
To fully enjoy the best of Catalonia, consider staying in the four hotels mentioned above as a well-balanced, picturesque tour. Their high standards of luxury, typically Catalan feel, and close proximity to one another ensure that these hotels fit perfectly together.
Prices from £2,320 per person, based on two people sharing a double room for 3 nights at each hotel bed and breakfast, scheduled flights to Barcelona, and Group C hire car for 9 days.
For more information about our Catalan hotels and arranging a tour, please contact one of our personal travel specialists.