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. The magnificent vineyards of the Abadía Retuerta estate extend along the banks of the Duero to the east of Valladolid. A superb, elegantly restored, 12th century abbey, set in a stunning landscape, welcomes its visitors. This cultural treasure of Spain, the soul of this region, has been converted into a hotel with all due respect paid to its 1,000 years of history. Every architectural detail has been immaculately preserved. The monks’ cells are now guestrooms, the chapter house is the lounge bar, and the refectory is now a sumptuous restaurant dining room under a vaulted ceiling in the purest of Gothic styles. A splendid estate with a unique character. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in town. Located inside the walled town of Cáceres with its extraordinary Almohad, Gothic, Renaissance and colonial buildings, Atrio boasts sublime architecture by Emilio Tuñón Álvarez and Luis Moreno Mansilla, masters of modern design. In the heart of the old stone buildings of this medieval town, Chefs José Polo and Toño Pérez prepare cuisine with unique, authentic flavours in a heavenly, extremely contemporary setting. Truffles, pasta and mushrooms, razor clams with cured Iberian ham, pig’s trotters, oyster and other gourmet creations are in complete harmony with the splendid building. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on the seafront. Can Faustino, a magnificent palace dating back to the 16th century, overlooks the port of Ciutadella. Architect Olivia Putman has imagined it as a large family home, where natural materials are highlighted: the softness of the pink stones of the façade, the authenticity of wood and leather in the bright rooms. A simplicity which ideally suits Menorca, the wildest of the Balearic Islands. In the shadow of the bougainvilleas of the patio, enjoy the vegetables from the orchard and fish just caught in the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Two superb boats as well as horses are at your disposal to discover this island listed as a biosphere reserve, its virgin beaches and Menorcan lifestyle. ... Learn moreless
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 attractive town of Ezcaray, on the crossroads between the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and the Rioja wine route, is home to a culinary jewel whose fame goes back for five generations. Echaurren has been handed down from father to son for more than a century, ever since the stable block of the former staging post was converted into a dining room. The restaurant, along with traditional Rioja recipes which have been brought to perfection and embellished by this family of renowned cooks, are at the heart of the property. Echaurren is nestled in the historic centre of the town opposite a fine stone church, Santa María la Mayor, and offers cheerful, modern rooms decorated in bright, fresh colours. ... 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 town. A river runs round the estate and the majestic buildings dating back to the 18th century and then meanders between the trees of a magnificent wood. The grounds exude tranquillity and serenity. A Quinta da Auga is a natural, romantic escape within the World Heritage city of Santiago de Compostela, which welcomes the pilgrims at the final destination on the St James Way pilgrimage route, with an amazing historical town centre. The hotel’s restaurant offers regional delights, seafood and meat dishes. Enjoy a wide range of cultural, oenological and sailing activities in the vicinity. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. One of the impressive façades of the Neri, tucked away in the heart of the romantic Gothic district, gives onto Sant Felip Neri square, a magical place with Gothic edifices and the church where Gaudí used to come to pray every day. This hotel was created when, in the 18th century, two mansions merged – one dating from the Middle Ages. It boasts a delightful décor, blending period features with ultra-modern design. The chef creates a Mediterranean cuisine with a seasonal menu in this private, welcoming restaurant. At the top of the building, “Roba Estesa” is an oasis in the city, where you can enjoy vistas of the city at nightfall, while trying delicious tapas. ... 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