“Remodelled medieval castle with contemporary flair, a divine roof terrace, 2 stunning pools and a great central Catalonian location”
It's close enough to Girona to make it accessible for a weekend break, and once you visit this part of the Costa Brava, you'll want to come back for longer to go cycling and walking around medieval villages, restaurant-hopping and relaxing on the quiet beaches. But the crowning glory is the hotel's eccentric Napoleon room, with a re-enactment of Waterloo played out by painted lead figurines, that took Albert 20 years to compose. Mad or inspired? We don't care either way, we just don't want to leave.
- A stunning location, nestled in a quiet village between the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava, within easy day-tripping distance of beautiful beaches, Girona and the Dalí Triangle
- Rooms are lovely; choose a Castle Room for vaulted ceilings, window seats, exposed stone walls and a bath with a view
- Two swimming pools - both big enough to swim seriously in, with plenty of loungers
- Excellent food in the Mediterranean restaurant: simple tapas, elaborate starters and rich mains
- The view across the just-tilled fields, acres of flower-filled gardens and the chapel is relaxation itself
- You'll need a car to get here and explore the area
- The access down to the new block of Garden Suites and Dali Rooms isn't easy or beautiful
- Caters to an older crowd (nightlife lovers or cocktail quaffers may need to brush up on some history before visiting)
- A couple of rowdy kids could kill the atmosphere around the pools
- We've heard mixed things about the service, but we found it good
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Heated Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The 57 bedrooms are furnished in a spare, contemporary style. Everything is orientated around the view, from the colours decorating the corridors to the careful positioning of bathtubs, and most rooms have deep window seats or a balcony.
There are several different categories. Tower Rooms are the smallest, set in the old tower with stunning views and shower bathrooms. Castle Rooms are in the old part of the main building, with exposed stone walls, vaulted ceilings and bathtubs tucked behind intricate screens. Garden Rooms are split amongst 2 modern buildings in the garden; they have little balconies for sunset. The larger Garden Suites are here, too, and I particularly liked these - sensational views and a bathroom with a glamorous marble tub-for-2 right next to a picture window, so you can bathe and gaze at the same time. Also in the garden are the Dali Rooms, which offer dazzling countryside views and feature artworks inspired by Salvador Dali - the artist was from the area and apparently tried to buy Castell d’Empordà back in the 1970s. But if you can afford to really splurge, the Pere Margarit Suite is amazing, named after the medieval owner of the castle and set in the old building. It's enormous and gorgeously romantic, with a Victorian bathtub and stain-glass windows.
All rooms have antique furniture but are decorated in a modern style, thanks to the inspiration of the owners who have travelled the world and brought back eclectic touches like Moroccan Berber rugs and Chinese vases to decorate.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
The hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in its restaurant and on the roof terrace, with views for miles. Expect food as impressive as the setting - the chef comes from a 3-starred restaurant in Holland, and with Spanish delights like Ibérico ham and Galician beef, not to mention local farmers' produce at his disposal, he doesn't disappoint.
The menu includes simple tapas (barbecued crayfish, hummus, seafood croquettes), elaborate starters (7 types of tomatoes, risotto, tuna sashimi New-York style) and hefty mains (lamb, barbecued Iberian pork, turbot). There isn’t much in the way of vegetarian fare beyond a few token dishes.
The restaurant is dark and glamorous, with an open fire and black chandeliers hanging over large wooden tables. The decoration is as quirky as in the rest of the castle: painted wooden statues of Jesus sit on little shelves, and a wrought-iron bull's head hangs from the ancient brickwork wall.
Breakfast is a buffet and the food is typically organic: pastries and breads, cold meats, cheeses, seasonal fruits, juices and yoghurts. Eggs are available, cooked to order; just ask.
There are some great eateries nearby, too. Margo recommends Pasticceria Sans in La Bisbal d'Empordà (1km) for a coffee and pastries; the tapas bar La Cova in La Bisbal gets a thumbs-up from locals, and in Girona you can eat at the famous 3-starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca (30km, book well in advance).
- Organic produce
- Relax at the hotel with a massage or a swim in the pool before enjoying a lavish late lunch and a spot of sunbathing
- Hire a bike (reception can arrange) and cycle the winding lanes down to the sea. It takes about half an hour. Or hire a guide too, and get to know the rural towns nearby
- Jump in a car and drive to the beach. Albert recommends Pals and Callela; Margo suggests Aiguafreda and Sa Tuna. The area has great snorkelling and scuba diving in crystal waters
- Shop for ceramics in La Bisbal d'Empordà, one of Spain's most important pottery towns (the hotel is in the small village of Castell d'Empordà, on La Bisbal's outskirts)
- Go walking - this area has fantastic trails and hills
- Play golf on one of the 6 courses within half an hour of the hotel
- Check out the Dalí Triangle, the Costa Brava's hidden cultural gem, including the impressive, innovative and mind-blowing Dalí Museum in Figueres. All sights are within an hour of the hotel
- Visit the many medieval villages nearby. Albert counts 8 within 30 minutes of the hotel, which when twinned with the historical hotel itself, would make a perfect history buff's holiday
- Daytrip to Girona, with its exciting architecture, glittering shops and historic Jewish Quarter
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Scuba diving
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
Children of all ages are welcome. There are limited facilities for them (a baby cot and highchair are complimentary if needed, extra beds are extra cost) because the owners don't want to turn the castle into a 'family hotel', but we think the right children would love the two pools and the gardens, not to mention the castle setting and historical re-enactments using lead figurines. It's close enough to the beach and outdoor activities like walking and cycling to suit children of most ages.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Garden Rooms can fit 1 rollaway bed for a child; the Garden Suites can fit 2 children on a double sofabed, which might or might not work, depending on your kids. Some of the Dali Rooms are connected, making them ideal for families. There is a supplement for extra guests.
Babysitting is available with advance request.
Families Should Know:
The property is on top of a hill and there are some steep drops; there are also a lot of steps and two unguarded pools, so we'd say it's better not to bring toddlers.