Hostal Sa Rascassa

near Begur, Catalonia, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
Secluded restaurant-with-rooms in a killer location under pine trees, just steps from a stunning cove
Sa Rascassa has a lot to live up to: named as one of the best hotels in the world not once but twice, in 2010 and 2011, it's a big promise for a 5-roomed hostelry where the emphasis is on the food. Just what constitutes the accolade 'best hotel in the world' is up for grabs; in this case, it's the exceptional restaurant, and the location - on a pine-covered hill, 40m from a quiet unspoilt cove with clear water, and by coastal paths to superb nearby beaches. From your quietly stylish room you can hear the waves lap on the shore.

The real highlight, though, is the restaurant, laid out under trees bedecked with fairylights, and overseen by the super-friendly owner Oscar and his expert staff. The menu is fabulous, with pear and walnut tarts and lobster and chicken bake among the Catalan favourites; wines are similarly up to par. In the peak of summer the restaurant also runs a beach bar, open until the sun drops into the silvery sea.

Highs

  • The food is worth the drive alone, some of Catalonia's best; we last visited in 2013 and feasted on straight-from-the-sea fish and rock mussels, grilled and steamed to perfection
  • Fantastic sea views from the rooms' shared terrace
  • All you can hear are the birds in the trees and the waves splashing the shore; the ambiance is super-relaxing
  • Wonderful walks that lead out from the front door, and great snorkelling/diving in crystal-clear waters; you can plunge straight into the Med from the harbour below the hotel
  • Owner Oscar is charming and helpful, stopping to chat over dinner, and pleased to give advice on the region to hotel guests

Lows

  • No children under 12 (a high for many!)
  • Rooms are fairly simple (double beds are 2 singles pushed together), but the price reflects this
  • No pool, and you're left to your own devices from 4.30-7.30pm (this isn't a full-service hotel), but Oscar is at the end of a phone for emergencies
  • Generally a 4-night minimum stay in July and 7 nights in August, but enquire if you want to come for a shorter period as they are flexible
  • Nervous drivers might baulk at the steep 3km road from Begur, and the car park is often full in peak season (you might have to unload then park further up the hill)

Best time to go

The weather is lovely through spring, summer and autumn, then the hotel is closed from late October to early March annually. It gets very busy in high season, and they prefer guests to stay for a week at this time. We'd recommend coming in September, when the weather is glorious but the area is less busy. It's ideal for a 4-night break or longer.

Our top tips

Book tickets in advance for Dalí's house at Port Lligat, near Cadaqués, an hour up the coast from here. They have small quotas for visitors each day and it's a long way to drive if you can't get in.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Restaurant with rooms
  • 5
  • Restaurant (open daily) + beach bar in summer
  • Over 12s only
  • Closed: 26 Oct 2015 - 3 Mar 2016...
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Set above the restaurant, the 5 rooms are simply styled, clean and comfortable, and all the same: on the small side, with twin beds that can be pushed together to form doubles, small bathrooms with huge showerheads (no baths), and views out to the thickly forested hillside. Floors are oak; furniture is artfully distressed.

In terms of mod cons, apart from a bottle of shower gel, a small TV, a heater, a fan and a hairdryer, there aren't any. You do get a raffia basket containing cherry-red beach towels though, and if you want a kettle, just ask. But this isn't the kind of hotel where you'll spend much time in your room - you'll be out walking the coastline, swimming in the warm sea, investigating medieval villages or shopping in Begur's chi-chi boutiques.

In front of the rooms there's a sweet shared terrace with a table and 2 chairs for each room. At one end there's a sightseeing area with sea views, and you can hear the waves at all times - they're just 40m away. There are some drawbacks to being above the restaurant: in the evening, noise carries, and if you want to go to bed early you may be disturbed by night owls carrying on drinking downstairs, particularly in the summer. Room 5 is closest to the kitchen and can be a little noisier than the other rooms. That said, we slept very well here.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Kettle (on request)
  • Satellite tv
  • Shared terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Sa Rascassa is a restaurant first and a hotel second, serving breakfast to guests plus lunches and dinners to all. The menu is wide-ranging, with Catalan specialities, seafood, pasta and hamburgers (don't let that put you off - we'd wager they're among the best hamburgers you'll ever taste!). There's also a small but well-chosen wine list.

One speciality of Catalan food is 'surf and turf', so on our first visit we chose the lobster and chicken, served in a large clay pot; it was sweet and juicy, wonderfully messy, and accompanied by cockles and a thick, fruity sauce. For dessert we had homemade ice creams - yoghurt and orange boules with caramelised orange peel, and a refreshing lemon and mint. On our return in 2013, we tucked into a seared tuna steak, perfectly grilled bass and a mound of delicious rock mussels.

Both meals were fantastic experiences - the combination of delicious food, skilful service and a relaxed atmosphere (Oscar normally potters between tables, introducing himself and advising on wine) makes the restaurant worth a trip even if you're not staying here. There's live flamenco on Wednesday nights, and in summer the beach bar serves simple tapas and sandwiches until around 7pm.

For those who don't want to eat here every night, there are plenty of other restaurants nearby, from the bistro at Hotel Aiguaclara in Begur (3km away) to cocktails and tapas at Hotel Vintage, a short walk along the cliff. Or take one of the hotel's torches and walk 15 minutes along the cliff path to Sa Tuna, where you'll find 4 restaurants; Oscar will advise which to go for.

Breakfast is simple but just what you need after an indulgent dinner the evening before: coffee and fresh croissants served at your table, with a buffet of fruit, yoghurts, cereals and cold cuts waiting inside.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Beach bar during summer
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go swimming in the cove, or bring a mask and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters
  • Wander round the headland to Sa Tuna beach (a 15-minute stroll), or drive to Sa Riera, the best sandy beach in the area (5km away); there are beach towels in your room
  • Oscar can provide maps showing hiking routes along the spectacular Costa Brava
  • Walk up the forested hillside to Begur (3km away) and spend a day traversing the narrow streets and browsing chi-chi boutiques
  • Ask Oscar for a list of chic towns to visit (we loved Cadaqués). The area is popular with upscale Barcelonans and there are several stylish spots nearby
  • Play golf: this coast has plenty of courses to choose from, including a pitch-and-putt
  • Hire a bike inland and cycle around Begur and its surrounds
  • Investigate the medieval villages of Catalonia, with their winding streets and ancient churches
  • Get lost in the Dalí Triangle, which includes the castle at Púbol, just 20 minutes' drive away
  • Explore Catalonia's foodie heritage and take a tour of its most stunning restaurants; ask Oscar for his tips
  • Spend a day in Girona, wandering along the riverfront and visiting the Jewish Quarter and cathedral

Activities on site or nearby include:

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

Kids

Only children aged 12 and over are accepted. At a push, an extra bed (additional charge) can be added to the rooms, but this would make them very tight so we suggest booking 2 rooms instead.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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