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.
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. Between the Gredos mountains and the majestic Tagus river, this 19th century manor house modestly hides its terracotta facade behind tall cypress trees. In the main building or the outbuildings in the garden, the spacious bedrooms offer majestic panoramic views. The six hundred hectare domain has exclusive activities in store such as relaxing in the spa, horseback riding, hunting and golf on the hotel’s driving range and its pitch & putt. In the surrounding area you will find attractions like the Guadalupe monastery, the castle of Oropesa and the Yuste abbey. The magnificent Tierra restaurant uses ingredients from its own farm and kitchen garden. ... 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
Restaurant in town. Located in his home town, the restaurant of Dani Garcia is an invitation to share an original culinary experience and the innovative vision that this Chef has of Andalusian cuisine. Without denying any of his roots, he plays with the textures, savours or the contrast of warm and cold. The result is brilliant, a mix of tradition and avant garde, high tech and ancestral recipes: cherry pulp blends with gazpacho and Iberian pork meets smoked eggplants and souffleed potatoes. This partition is performed under the eyes of the guests, who can observe the cuisine looking like a laboratory from the nice dining room with its vertical wall garden. ... 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 the country. Transgression and creativity are the keywords; Andoni Luis Aduriz is a rebel. At the Mugaritz, 20 minutes from San Sebastian, in the Basque countryside, he experiments endlessly with local produce. In his laboratory kitchen, the Chef is both a player and scientist and invites inquiring minds to embark on a journey: potatoes are transformed into pebbles, “bitter ideas of velvet” describes strips of camembert fermented in an apple concentrate, the spoonful of caviar is won by playing jacks, lamb is served with its coat, the chocolate fondant creates soap bubbles… Both disconcerting and stimulating, his cuisine goes from surprise to surprise and nourishes the spirits. ... 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
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. Up on a hill overlooking La Seu d’Urgell, with the Pyrenees as the backdrop, El Castell de Ciutat faces a landscape of preserved natural beauty. The Tàpies family provides a warm welcome in this mountain chalet, located at the foot of a fortress dating back to the 16th century. There are breathtaking views of the Urgellet valley and Cadí-Moixeró, Catalonia’s biggest nature reserve. Discover the pleasure of exquisite Mediterranean cuisine in the restaurants and taste wines from all over the world. Enjoy mountain sports or sail over the valley in a hot air balloon before relaxing in the magnificent wellness center. Don’t leave without enjoying breakfast in the morning sunlight on the terrace. ... 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