In South-western Europe, between France, Portugal and the Mediterranean Sea, facing Morocco across the famous Straits of Gibraltar, Spain has an eclectic culture, marked by strong regionalisation.
Stretching from the nature parks of Catalonia to Extremadura via Madrid, the capital, and the two Castiles, Spain’s inland area consists primarily of the Meseta. This sprawling plateau, surrounded by mountains and divided down the middle by the sierras of the Sistema Central, is home to a multitude of historic towns and bright villages built by its successive inhabitants. In Segovia, visitors crane their necks to admire the double-arched Roman aqueduct erected more than 2,000 years ago without a single dab of mortar. In Cáceres, Moorish ramparts protect the proud patrician manors and imposing Renaissance structures. Among its streets lined with honey-colored walls, Sigüenza conceals a medieval castle built over an Arab kasbah and a cathedral that blends the Romanesque, Gothic and Plateresque styles. And the Aljafería, Saragossa’s Mozarabic palace, was rebuilt by the Catholic Kings in the distinctively refined Mudéjar style and once served as a tribunal for the Inquisition.
From the crest of the Pyrenees to the lively streets of Barcelona, from the beaches of the Costa Brava to the Balearic Islands, Mediterranean Spain is a medley of celebrations and lazy days in the sun, of phantasmagorical structures by Gaudi or Subirachs and Romanesque monasteries, of treats like sweet-and-sour botifarra dolça sausage and suquet, a fish stew with mussels and fried squid. Not far from La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s emblematic cathedral, the city’s Roman and Visigoth origins can be seen in the ancient narrow streets excavated under Casa Clariana-Padellàs — an incredible underground journey back in time.
Restaurant on the seafront. On the Catalan coast, between Girona and Barcelona, Chef Carme Ruscalleda crafts creative, modern cuisine inspired by the landscape and Catalan culinary traditions. In a beautiful garden bordering the charming beach of Sant Pol de Mar, Carme develops her very own original gourmet style, with produce from the Maresme region, famous for its fishing ports, its specialised crops and its wild mountains. Dishes with a fine balance and natural flavours play with contrasts and textures. Since 2004, Carme’s cuisine has drawn on Nipponese influences which marry naturally with the culinary style at the Sant Pau. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. In the heart of Madrid, just five minutes from the Museo del Prado, where Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights, hangs among the paintings of Vélasquez, Titian and Rubens, another garden of delights awaits. The Hotel Orfila, a small palace built in 1886, has the feel of an art gallery, with its period furniture, feature marble and superb trompe l’oeil effects in the green garden courtyard. In the 1920s, the hotel was made famous by the plays staged within its walls. Today, its flowered patio invites you to dine under the stars and its tea room is imbued with English chic. This is an ideal place from which to explore Madrid at its own rhythm. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a park. In the heart of Asturias, amidst eight hectare grounds boasting beautiful gardens and unspoilt nature, discover this 16th century palace between the Sierra del Sueve mountains and the Cantabrian sea. Palacio de Luces has been tastefully refurbished in complete harmony with its historic setting. The piano bar and the pool invite to relaxation and the ideal location between the sea and the mountains is conducive to the many, diverse activities on offer. Everything here is designed to ensure your well-being and peace of mind – spaciousness, décor, the traditional Asturian cuisine at the restaurant Balcón del Sueve which meticulously selects the finest ingredients served to you along with some fabulous views. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. A 19th century Lord’s manor, the Mirador de Dalt Vila was until recently a family property. When it was converted into an intimate and welcoming hotel, none of its historical values were lost. Perched on the heights inside the famous walled city of Dalt Vila – declared a Unesco World Heritage site –, the building offers, as suggested by its name a magnificent panoramic view of the city of Ibiza, its historical port and the never ending horizon of the Mediterranean sea. Far from the bustle of the town, sample the charms of this peaceful haven with its excellent service and highly dedicated staff. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. In this former hillside monastery in Majorca, asceticism lives on in the décor, where white walls shine forth against the deep blue sky. The spa is a water and teakwood paradise using essential oils derived from the island flora. The swimming pool, a chic camping ground, provides large white parasols to ensure deckchairs remain in the shade. The rooms offer views of the sea, the olive tree orchards and the bay of Pollença. Organic produce, including olive oil, wine, citrus fruits and vegetables, is cultivated on the grounds and served in the restaurant. There is little inclination to venture out of this pleasant hotel, unless it is to head for the beaches or the golf course. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. The Mas de Torrent is located in the heart of Empordà, the most authentic and chic region on the Costa Brava, with its beautiful beaches and little medieval villages, in between olive and cypress trees. This 18th century masía delights with its spectacular views, delightful gardens and impeccable, attentive service. The welcoming interior is home to both classical and contemporary suites, some with their own private pool. Two extraordinary restaurants and the Mas Spa make for a magical stay. Don’t miss the treasures in a region so beloved by the artist Salvador Dalí: Cadaqués, Pals, Peratallada and Sant Martí d’Empúries. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. To fly over the rugged mountains and valleys of the Pyrenees in a hot-air balloon is a breath-taking experience offered at this hotel run by Josep Maria Boix and Loles Vidal de Boix. They both fell in love with this majestic small palace, built in the Art Nouveau style of the time of Gaudí on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. It gave them enormous pleasure to start restoring this fine building, now elegantly appointed and specially designed to offer its guests the utmost in comfort and well-being. This magnificent hotel offers a whole host of things to do, such as mountain excursions with guide, and eighteen holes at the Real Club de Golf. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in the country. “Good cuisine, which is written in capitals, is not the property of any one person. It belongs to all those who have worked behind the stoves since the dawn of time.” So says Chef Martín Berasategui who has turned this restaurant in the Basque country, close to one of the pilgrimage routes of Compostela, into a culinary temple. Sautéed black garlic and beetroot ceviche feature amongst his most adventurous inventions. Another legendary dish is red mullet with edible crystallised scales, bean sprouts and cuttlefish. The seductive atmosphere is in perfect harmony with the exquisite cuisine, excellent wines and exceptional service. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. At the family restaurant Arzak winds of innovation are blowing. Juan Mari was one of the founders of new Basque cuisine in 1977: creativity and techno-cuisine as a revolutionary way of inviting the region to take pride of place on the plate. His daughter Elena accompanies him on this gourmet adventure, adding her sensitivity and rigour to the untameable spirit and creativity of Juan Mari. Their duo produces marvels culminating in dishes featuring local hake, line-caught calamari or beef from the region, as well as a delicious array of aromas from across the world, including tamarind, hibiscus, rhubarb, mango skin, coconut, roasted chocolate and liquorice powder. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. The Chef Óscar Velasco creates dishes featuring fish and shellfish from the Costa Brava, exceptional vegetables like young Maresme peas, or delicious Morella truffles, and his flagship creations, including crispy suckling pig from Segovia. The impressive cheese board is another highlight. Velasco’s cuisine is the embodiment of a culinary philosophy that is both traditional and contemporary, with a wild flourish. In the dining room, the Maître de Maison, Abel Valverde, and the sommelier, David Robledo, offer unique, stylish service – the prelude to a gourmet feast that will truly delight the senses. ... Learn moreless