Hostal Empuries

L’Escala, Catalonia, Spain Book from

Ancient meets modern at this eco-friendly beach hotel with 2 restaurants and a glamorous spa
Hostal Empuries is a tale of 2 centuries: the first, a hotel built beside the remains of a Greco-Roman town in 1907 to cater for archaeologists working on the site; the second, a hotel updated for the modern tourist, with leading environmental credentials and a super-sleek spa. But it’s not just a designer retreat: with a legacy to protect the famous ruins, there’s a sense of greater purpose, too.

Set right on an unspoilt beach near the seaside town of L'Escala, the 53-room hotel is close enough to Girona for day trips, near to pretty medieval towns and castles, and an easy drive from Dalí’s museums. Everything else you need is right here: a formal restaurant, a relaxed bistro, a library with books and magazines to borrow. There are paddle boards, motorboats and bicycles to hire, plus yoga classes to help you unwind. Families are just as welcome as couples and friends, with a weekend kids' club, family rooms and a safe beach just steps away. The blend of ancient and modern - original parquet floors and tiles, Chesterfield sofas, clean contemporary lines - gives the hotel wonderful character, and we loved the laid-back beach vibe. After all, waking up to the sound of the sea never gets old.


  • Set right on a secluded golden beach, with sea views from most rooms; the sand is near-deserted in the morning
  • Impressive environmental credentials - this is the first hotel in Europe with LEED Gold Certification
  • The glamorous spa - bubble in the Jacuzzi, swim, steam, and try a bamboo facial or seaweed wrap
  • Sylish rooms with muted, soothing colours, and room sizes to suit all (doubles, triples, quads)
  • The Costa Brava itself, with aquamarine coves and lots of virtually empty beaches (except in the height of summer)


  • Rates don't include breakfast, and you have to pay to use the spa
  • Ongoing renovation of the historic wing means some rooms are better than others
  • Some find the service in the restaurant too relaxed, and the food is pricey (though we enjoyed our meals)
  • You may hear noise from other rooms; bring earplugs if you're a light sleeper

Best time to go

Catalonia is beautiful all year round but beware the beaches in July and August, when hordes of tourists descend for a bit of summer sun. We'd say the best time to visit for hiking and activities is spring (March-May); if you want to make the most of sun without the crowds, come September-early November.

Our top tips

Follow the Dune Walkway, a 2.5km beachside track from Portitxol beach outside the hotel to Sant Marti d’Empuries, the famous next beach along, where you’ll find a beach bar and pedalos in season.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 53
  • Restaurant, bistro & bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Indoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Spa Triple / Quadruple


The hotel is divided into 2 parts: the old historic wing and the newer spa wing. Rooms in both have dark wood and sleek lines, though these common themes are paired with black slate and contemporary glass in the spa wing, and beautiful period detailing (wooden floors, chess-board tiles) in the original building. Most have terraces or balconies.

Rooms break down into various shapes and sizes, with some sleeping 3 or 4 on a combination of doubles, singles and sofabeds. They face the beach or garden (the former have lovely blue and white tiles in their bathrooms; the latter come with sunny yellow tones), and it’s definitely worth bagging a sea view if you can - we loved opening our curtains each morning and gazing out over the empty sand.

All bathrooms have a shower and tub (except Corner Rooms, which have showers only), plus you'll find robes, hairdryers, toiletries and essential oils. Our bathroom was separated from the sleeping area by a clever rattan screen, which slid back to create a fantastic sense of space.

For full details of the various options, see Rates.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


The hotel’s environmental concerns encompass the food served, which is sourced locally and features many regional dishes. Much of the produce is grown in the kitchen garden, or plucked from the sea on the same day it reaches your plate.

At the high end, Restaurant Villa Teresita (open daily for lunch and dinner) has fantastic sea views, white tablecloths and a formal atmosphere. The ethos is 'eco Mediterranean gastronomy' - think Iberian ham, roast pigeon, oysters and lobster-filled pasta.

The Bistro del Mar is more relaxed and less pricey, serving informal dishes and tapas by day and evening (patatas bravas, codfish fritters, fennel salad). From June to September, a BBQ is set up on its terrace and you choose from a selection of fresh fish and seafood, which is then grilled in front of your eyes - we feasted on crayfish, razor clams and mussels, which were all delicious. The bistro is also the setting for breakfast, which includes mixed breads, homemade marmalade and pastries, fresh fruit, cold meats and local cheese.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Do what comes naturally: hit the beach, swim in the calm and shallow water, and sunbathe on the sand
  • Spend a morning in the spa, making use of its steam room, lap pool, sauna and gym; treatments include shiatsu massage, seaweed wraps and facials. Or join one of the Hatha yoga classes (free on Sundays; extra cost at other times)
  • Visit the famous Greco-Roman ruins that drew the original hotel owner
  • Hire the motorboat or paddle boards; reception can advise on pretty coves to visit, and arrange snorkelling and diving
  • Go hiking, or rent bikes from the hotel. The area has plenty of established trails taking you through beautiful villages and flower-filled meadows, or along the coast
  • Hot-air ballooning is a big attraction in the area. Flights take you up above impossible mountains to spy medieval castles and ancient hamlets
  • Explore the Dalí Triangle - the museum in Figueres, his house in Port Lligat and his castle in Púbol where his wife, Gala, lies in the crypt
  • Foodies can head to local markets with the hotel chef (arranged on request), or try for a table at Girona's world-famous El Cellar de Can Roca

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga


The hotel is very family-friendly, and in addition to being on a large, safe and gently shelving beach, it offers a kids' club and a variety of family-friendly room options.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

There are family rooms with 3 and 4 beds, configured however you need them, but if you need plenty of space and have older children, you might be better off booking 2 separate double/twin rooms as the family rooms are a squeeze


Available by advance request

Baby equipment:

There are highchairs and baby cots (both free to borrow)

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

The hotel’s kids' club runs on Saturday and Sunday afternoons year-round, as well as during the week in August. The hours are 2-6pm, and it caters for children aged 3-10, offering supervised creative play (sticking, drawing, that kind of thing)


  • Airport: 40 minutes (Girona)
  • Hospital: 40 minutes
  • Shop: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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