- Style Catalan castle cool
- Setting Costa Brava countryside
A Catalan ruin restored into a romantic retreat, Castell d’Empordà hotel is dramatically set between the peaks of the Pyrenees and the cliffs of Costa Brava. This mediaeval stone castle in the countryside is filled with exotic relics from around the globe. This is fitting, given that it was once the home of an explorer who traveled with Christopher Columbus.
Need to know
- Rooms 38, including nine suites.
- Rates Double rooms from $247.40 (€181), excluding tax at 10 per cent.
- More details Rates include buffet breakfast.
- Facilities Gardens, library including DVDs, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player and minibar.
- Poolside There’s a turquoise-tiled, heated outdoor pool in the gardens, overlooking the green-gold scenery.
- Check–out 12pm; earliest check-in, 2pm.
Children Little Smiths are welcome, with cots provided free, extra beds for €40 a night and babysitting with a nanny (€20–€25 an hour, book three days in advance).
- Also Smoking is allowed in some bedrooms and in the hotel’s communal areas. A three-night minimum stay is required between 16 July and 11 September.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms If, like Forster, you’re after a room with a view, book a bijou boudoir in the Tower (no bath, though). The Castle rooms are the exposed-stonework real deal, with hand-made floor tiles from Marrakech, patchwork-hide rugs and dramatic views, to be enjoyed from cushioned window seats in some rooms. Stained glass windows draped in Indian silk, a Victorian bathtub and antique Tibetan rugs lend opulence to the palatial Suite Pere Margarit by Dutch designer Menno Kroon. Look out for the fabulous whale-tail shelf.
- Packing tips Bring dancing shoes and something red and frilly – the bar hosts live music performances. Relic hunters should pack their most elastic plastic to flex, in anticipation of the area’s pottery and collectibles. Remember a jumper for cooler nights.
- Also On selected Friday nights, a local dancer performs a fabulous fusion of ballet and flamenco in the bar.
Food and drink at Castell d'Empordà
- Hotel restaurant A dramatic bull’s-head sculpture on the wall keeps watch over proceedings in the sensual gothic restaurant. Black silk drapes lie sleekly against the rough, nougat-coloured stone walls, glossy jet chandeliers drip from the ceilings and tabletop candles flicker amid the dark expanse. In summer, floor-to-ceiling glass doors open up onto the terrace and in winter, the fire crackles and muted jazz provides a relaxed background. Offerings are Spanish with global influences – be sure to try the signature tuna sashimi dish.
- Dress code Channel flamenco-glam for evening, light and layered during daylight hours.
- Top table Sit out on the terrace – enjoy a lazy lunch in the shade by day and admire the twinkling lights from distant towns by night.
- Last orders 11pm for dinner; the bar is open noon until midnight. Grab breakfast between 8am to 10.30am; lunch from 1pm to 3.30pm; and dinner from 8pm.
- Room service There’s no room service but the restaurant is sure to cater to your culinary needs.
- Hotel bar The Cava Del Drac, housed in the old wine cellar, is a suitably historic and dramatic drinking den. Sit among the vaulted stone ceilings on low, slouchy sofas in neutral shades and admire the decor, inspired by a ’50s Parisian jazz bar. Small, curved tables sparkle with tea lights and a relaxed soundtrack of laid-back lounge music will fill any gaps in conversation. Leave no alcove unturned; there is a bounty of books on art, wine, history and so forth to enjoy with a glass of tempranillo.
Also worth knowing
- Weddings This property is suitable for weddings. More details