Worth getting out of bed for
Climb the hotel’s narrow staircase to the watchtower and soak up the magnificent 360-degree views; on a clear day, you’ll be able to admire the glittering sea below. History buffs should explore the hotel’s Napoleon Hall, where owner Albert has painstakingly recreated the battle of Waterloo, based on a map drawn by his great-great-grandfather and featuring more than 2,000 miniature antique figurines. Wander into the property’s olive orchard and stray on to the paths threading through the surrounding countryside. The streets of La Bisbal are lined with shops selling pottery and antiques. If you like the ceramics dotted around the hotel, buy your own to take home from Vila Clara at 27 Sis d’ Octubre (+34 (0)972 640185; www.vila-clara.com). The shop is family run and has been perfecting its trade over the last 50 years. Bargain-hunters will love the vibrant markets, held every Friday in La Bisbal and on Sundays in nearby Palafrugell. For culture vultures, Catalonia has the Dalí Triangle (www.salvador-dali.org) to explore: this trio of sights includes the Theatre-Museum in Figueres (+34 (0)972 677500), the House-Museum in Port Lligat (+34 972 251015) and the Castle Museum in La Pera (+34 (0)972 488655).
Feast on traditional Catalan cuisine at Mas Pou at 4 Placa de la Mota (+34 (0)972 634125; www.maspou.com) in Palau-Sator. Once a family home, this restaurant is full of local character (and characters) and snails – apparently they serve up to 26,000 a week. If you want to sample stylish Catalan cuisine in a romantic setting, eat at Hotel Restaurant El Fort on the lantern-lit terrace, in the village of Ullastret, at 2 Carretera de la Preso (+34 (0)972 757773). El Pati, at 13 Carretera La Roca, in Peratallada (+34 (0)972 634069) serves up delicious Catalan specialities (the traditional Spanish breakfast is also worth rising early for) and has a pretty courtyard area, surrounded by natural stone, walnut trees and shrubs. La Plaça at 17 Sant Esteve in Madremanya (+34 (0)972 490487; www.restaurantlaplaca.com) is built inside an old country house with vaulted stone ceilings and terracotta-tiled floors, and has a tranquil vine-covered, jasmine-scented terrace, where you can enjoy nouvelle cuisine-style Catalan dishes. Hostal La Llagosta’s unassuming restaurant, La Llagosta, at 24 francesc de Blanes, Llafranc (+34 (0)972 300115; www.hostallallagosta.com) serves some sophisticated little dishes – look out for gazpacho with a tomato sorbet and tart tatin with cinnamon ice-cream. Feast on succulent seafood at Es Furio’s beachside restaurant, at Foraió, Tamariu (+34 (0)972 620036; www.esfurio.com). Originally a fisherman’s house, Es Furio has been a family-owned hotel since the 1930s. Les Coques del Pss is a traditional restaurant at 11 Les Voltes, Peratallada (+34 (0)972 635014), with simple stone and wood decor and hearty local specialities.
For beers in bohemia, head to Mas Sorrer, set in an open field, just outside Gualta (+34 (0)677 458854). This unique drinking-hole hosts regular live jazz performances and has a covered outdoor bar, pool tables and a caravan selling crepes. Inside is a pretty candle-lit restaurant and the bar stays open until around 6am in summer.
Patisseria Sans at 4 Avenida Les Voltes in La Bisbal (+34 (0)972 640375) is a family owned bakery, famous for its luscious cakes and pastries. Be sure to try the Bisbalenc, a sweet treat made from puff pastry, vermicelli, sugar and pine nuts.