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 a park. The marble whiteness of the Castillo de Arteaga, with its 13th century Gothic tower, rises dramatically out of the Basque Country’s Ria Urdaibai reserve with its narrow lush green valleys opening up into wide estuaries. Napoleon III and Eugenia de Montijo had it rebuilt when their son was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Biscay. Out of this castle, Garbiñe Azkuenaga has created a stunning hotel, masterfully combining period furniture with contemporary design. Spend your days exploring the surrounding area: cliffs, rivers, marshland and meadows. In the evening, enjoy a superb dinner in the castle's restaurant or a wine tasting in the well-stocked cellar. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a village. The walls of a 500-year-old flour mill are home today to a delightful family hotel where you can enjoy total peace troubled only by birdsong and the sound of the brook rippling through the grounds. The garden, lovely pool and spa are all invitations in themselves to take it easy in this peaceful ambiance. However, it would be a pity not to explore the Guadalajara area: the historic city of Sigüenza, mediaeval villages, natural reserves, salt mines and rivers in canyons – each more beautiful and interesting than the last. At nightfall, the mill restaurant serves Slow Food cuisine inspired by traditional recipes produced from seasonal, local ingredients. ... 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
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
Restaurant in the country. “Successful creations start with the best products. Each dish must be approached with the daring of a young chef, the experience of a mature man and the wisdom of an elder.” The personality of Chef Pedro Subijana, always striving to do better and his constant quest for innovation have made him an ambassador for new Basque cuisine. He adds a "personal touch" to traditional recipes: hake and its "kokotxa", oyster leaf and "mussel beans". Enjoy the impressive panoramic views of the Cantabrian sea from Mount Igeldo while dining at this restaurant located just five minutes from the centre of Saint Sebastián. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the world, you can enjoy at La Torre del Visco the glorious scenery of a valley untouched by man and the modern world. The estate house with its tower dating from 1449 is surrounded by its own eighty-nine hectare farm, romantic gardens full of roses and olive trees bordered by the river Tastavins and the mountain range known as “Ports de Beseit”. The owner grows her own organic fruit and vegetables and makes her own olive oil for the restaurant. Inside the beautiful labyrinthine buildings, immerse yourself in a novel by the fireside, play chess or piano. During the night you can observe the stars on the terrace. ... 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