Costa Brava Hideaway

near Girona, Catalonia, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
Cuba meets Marrakech meets Paris in this hippy deluxe house (sleeps up to 12), set in a quiet medieval village near Girona
The riot of colour in this 5-roomed house in rural Catalonia is enough to leave you speechless. Bright yellow throws cover beds; doors are painted in turquoise, pillar-box red and apple green; pillows are cherry red, mustard yellow and deep purple. It’s shorthand for the exuberant, carefree air that French owners Sébastien and Marie have cultivated here, and reveals their love of travel, referencing Cuba, India, Paris and Marrakech in particular.

Set in the quiet village of Sant Jordi Desvalls, the building is a former presbytery and has been modernised with style and verve. Outside there's a delightful garden with a chlorine-free pool, caged canaries and tumbling flowers; indoors, a relaxed bistro-style dining area and kitchen, and a soothing upstairs lounge stacked with French coffee-table books about interior design and food, plus daybeds and a turntable with vintage Beatles records. Come and spend a week cycling around medieval villages, stopping for picnics in flower-filled fields, having 2-hour siestas in the afternoon, spending the odd day at the seaside, reading books, playing cards and relaxing. It’s also perfect for families, and great value for money.

Highs

  • As a former family home, it has all you need for a fun holiday - including table football, a DVD library, fast WiFi and great cooking equipment
  • The 5 bedrooms are huge - 3 of them can fit a family
  • It's excellent value for money
  • There's a lovely atmosphere; relaxing and upbeat at the same time, and you feel instantly at home
  • Only 30 minutes' drive from Girona, with its lovely buildings and riverside setting, and close to the stunning beaches of the Costa Brava

Lows

  • As of 2017, you can only rent the whole house, for a minimum of 3 nights (or 7 in July-August)
  • Sant Jordi Desvalls is a small village: there is a grocery and a tapas bar, but the nearest good restaurants are in Colomers, 5-10 mins' drive away
  • The village’s church bell rings right through your window into the night
  • Mosquitoes may be a problem in the summer

Best time to go

The house is open all year. We’d recommend visiting in the spring or the early autumn, for wonderful weather, fields of flowers and fewer crowds. It can be very hot and very busy in this part of Spain in August.

Our top tips

Don’t try to do too much. This pad is all about slow-paced living, relaxing, taking siestas and enjoying life as it is. Live like a local and have a restful stay!

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • House Rental
  • 5
  • Self-catering (shop nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
  • Beach toys
  • Table football
Room:

Rooms

There are 5 bedrooms, all upstairs, plus a downstairs lounge with daybeds, indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a leafy, private garden with pool.

Carmen is the grandest room, with space for a whole family (up to 3 children), or a generous option for a couple. Its huge bathroom has a shower and a wonderful claw-foot tub, and there's a large roof terrace with a hammock. Paco is also good for families; it has a child's bed, space for 2 rollaway beds, and an original painted ceiling from the 18th century in its bathroom (shower and tub). Frida is also lovely, with a double bed, a sweet small daybed made from wrought iron, and space for a couple of rollaway beds.

Kika, where we slept, has a small smoking courtyard, a giant bathroom with a double shower and freestanding bath, plus a quirky toilet tucked away in the corner of the room. The double bed is covered with a cheery yellow and red sprigged Indian throw, there’s a rail for clothes, shelves of French books, and a DVD player/TV. Room 218 is the smallest by a long way (there's no space for an extra bed) - fine for cosy couples, with a colourful and fun vibe. It opens onto the lounge. The bathroom has a shower but no tub.

All rooms have bathrobes, toiletries and hairdryers, an extra special touch considering the budget rates. My only complaints would be that the rooms aren’t terribly well lit for the evening, and the sound from the square outside, where children play, carries.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Radio
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

If you rent the whole house, you can use the kitchen, which is well equipped and laid out (the owners are ex-restaurateurs). There's a grocery in the village, open 7 days a week, with a butchers section too. Nearby eateries include a simple bar across the road (Bocca) and plenty of small tapas bars, patisseries and restaurants in nearby towns such as Colomers (5-10 mins' drive), or La Bisbal d’Empordà (20 minutes' drive). We would also recommend Hostal Sa Rascassa near Begur for a dinner by the sea, and the wonderfully bohemian bistro at Hotel Aiguaclara in Begur itself (40 minutes' drive).

When it's operating as a hotel, there's a bar-restaurant where breakfast is served daily. It reminded me very much of the open-house restaurants in Cuba: the chef, owner Sébastien, used to run a Thai-French restaurant in Paris, and serves up a 3-course meal 4 times a week in July/August (and on request for the rest of the year) but there’s no menu or options as such - you just have to go with it. Be aware that dinner, being communal, may be served late by UK standards - ours came at 9pm.

We ate anchovies on toast with tapenade, followed by paella with chicken, prawns and baby octopus, and a tarte au citron to finish, although cheese was also on offer. It was all delicious, and the accompanying wine list has been carefully selected and includes mainly French and Spanish wines.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The house is in the middle of the Dalí Triangle. Don't miss the castle of Dalí’s wife, Gala, in Púbol just 20 minutes’ drive away, and the crazy Dalí Museum in Figueres. At Port Lligat you can visit the house where Dalí lived

  • Drive over to the seaside for the day, and borrow some of the hotel’s beach toys if you need. Begur and Pals are both 30 minutes away by car

  • Spend the day in Girona (19km away), shopping in the Jewish Quarter, walking over the city’s bridges, and wandering round the cathedral. Lots of great restaurants, too

  • Back at the house, take a dip in the swimming pool, relax in the lounge, put a record on the turntable, read some interiors books, chill in the hot tub in the garden, wander round the village, have a long siesta, and enjoy a glass of wine in the shade

  • Go canoeing down the nearby river. It’s 5 minutes away and is great when the beach is too crowded. There's great snorkelling and diving in this region too; just ask Sébastien

  • Take a train from the village station to Barcelona for the day - it’s just over an hour away and Sébastien can arrange tickets to the football

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

This is a lovely house for a large family or two families, full of corners of wonder and items to delight children, in a small village where other children play football in the street. There are some sweet vintage tables and chairs around the place for children.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Most rooms can sleep one or more kids. Carmen fits up to 2 adults, 2 children on extra beds and 1 baby in a cot, and it has a hammock and outdoor terrace, giving you a bit of extra room. Kika can fit 2 adults, 1 child and 1 baby, Frida and Paco can each fit 1 additional bed or a baby cot, while 218 can only fit a baby cot.

Babysitting:

In the summer months, Mary and Sébastien may be able to book a nanny or babysitter.

Baby listening:

A baby monitor would work from bedrooms to the dining room downstairs so you could eat while they sleep upstairs.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • Highchairs
  • Toys

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

When it's operating as a hotel, dinners are available at certain periods of the year, but you should ask about earlier dinner times for kids. Pasta and simple dishes can be arranged by prior arrangement with the owners.

Kids Activities on site:

  • The hotel has baskets of beach toys, badminton racquets, footballs and a ukulele
  • The garden has a swimming pool and a cage of canaries
  • The bar area has table football and a small snooker table

Kids Activities nearby:

  • You can borrow bikes and helmets plus child bike seats for days out roaming the nearby villages
  • Head to the crazy Dalí museum in Figueres
  • Take a trip to the beach, just half an hour away, and borrow beach toys and towels from the hotel

Families Should Know:

  • There is a village shop open all week, and long hours, which sells food and other essentials, plus has a chemist and butchers section

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes (Girona), 1 hour (Barcelona)
  • Doctor: 15 minutes
  • Hospital: 30 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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