Hotel Aiguaclara

Begur, Catalonia, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
Vibrant, laid-back Cuban-style mansion in the centre of Begur, close to beaches, castles and Catalan cuisine
'All you need is love / love is all you need' reads the banner in the hall, and it's obvious that lots of love and attention have been poured into this hotel. When Joan and Clara moved here from Barcelona with their family 10 years ago, they didn't employ legions of interior designers and stylists - they put their individual sense of style to work in creating something quite unique.

From the mismatched colourful retro furniture in the bistro-style restaurant to the fairy lights and bright green hanging egg chair in the garden, this place has boho chic by the bucket load. Originally built by a merchant who returned to Begur from Cuba in the 19th century, history hasn't been papered over: bright tiles cover the hall floor, the ceilings are gloriously high, and the large doors on each level display prints of 19th-century Begur.

This is a great base for exploring Catalonia. Just 5km away down a winding road bisecting pine-covered hills you'll find several beaches with bars and gin-clear water; pretty Girona is a 50-minute drive away, and some of the region's loveliest restaurants are an easy stroll from your front door.

Highs

  • Begur itself, a pretty medieval town perched high on a hilltop with winding, cobbled streets
  • Great prices, especially because the bedrooms are all huge, with cool, quirky details; some have outdoor space, too
  • The décor: you won't find it anywhere else, though there's a flea market shop on site so you can buy bits to imitate the style back home
  • The atmosphere: young, friendly, relaxed and cool
  • Great for families, with spacious rooms and communal areas, and lots of beach toys and beach towels to borrow

Lows

  • Driving in Begur isn't fun - the narrow streets and one-way system are stressful
  • No pool, but there are fantastic beaches a short drive away
  • There's no lift
  • The nearby church bells are loud
  • The boho lighting in my room was a bit unreliable

Best time to go

Rather than high summer, we'd suggest coming in either spring or autumn when weather can be fantastic yet beaches are quiet and roads are navigable. Both are a good time for walking and cycling. It can be unbearably hot - and busy - here in August. The hotel is closed annually from 11 December until the second weekend in February.

Our top tips

  • Hire as small a car as you can bear for exploring this area. When you see the car park you'll know why manoeuvrability is more important than space; we'd hate for a little bump to ruin your holiday...
  • If retro-stylings are your kind of thing, leave plenty of room in your suitcase. Clara's flea market shop was set up because so many guests loved the hotel's style and wanted to imitate it at home
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Cheap & Chic
    Family
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 11
    • Restaurant (closed Sun & Mon; restaurants nearby)
    • All ages welcome
    • Closed: 9 Dec 2015 - 10 Feb 2016
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Bicycles Available
    Room:

    Rooms

    The hotel has 10 rooms, 6 of which are Standard/Superior Doubles and 2 of which are Junior Suites. There's also a Double Room with Terrace and a Junior Double. I was gobsmacked with the space I had in a Standard Double - easily twice what I'd expect, so don't feel you need to upgrade. In terms of décor, each room is different, and they are spread over the ground and first floor, some with terraces or balconies.

    My room, Sa Lucanna, contained a queensize bed, a big TV plus a DVD player, a 1950s-style writing desk, a French-style armoire and shuttered windows in true Cuban style. The wall was hung with a large modern print and a mirror bedecked with floral fairy lights. The compact tadelakt bathroom had a giant rain shower with shower gel, a sink and toilet, plus unusual bathroom items including a dental kit, razors and a bath sponge. There was also a mini balcony.

    The sheer size was delightful, and this, added to the extensive communal areas in the hotel, made me think I could easily stay for a week-10 days with my family. Standard Doubles can add an extra bed or baby cot with ease; Junior Suites sleep up to 4 in a kingsize bed, sofabed/daybed and rollaway bed, and have showers/tubs in their bathrooms. The Double Room with Terrace is handy for drying beach gear and can sleep 2 adults, a child and a baby.

    Since our visit, they've added a spacious Apartment next door to the hotel. There's no kitchen, but you do get a terrace, lounge and dining area, a double bedroom and a twin - perfect for families who want extra space to relax.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Cd player
    • Central heating
    • Cots Available
    • Desk
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Honesty bar
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    'Fet amb love' is a motto throughout the hotel - 'made with love' - and the restaurant is no different. In it you'll be served a breakfast buffet (all the usuals plus some Spanish touches including mini portions of tortilla) and dinner on various nights. Lunch is not served - it's presumed that you'll eat out and there are numerous places to choose in Begur and beyond.

    Dinner is great value for a set menu or individual dishes. I had baked sea bream served with sweet juicy celery, tomato and aubergine, preceded by a spicy curry and pumpkin soup. The bistro-style food is far better than the casual yet funky décor suggests, and the wine and coffee are of great quality.

    Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday in the summer and Wednesday to Saturday in the winter. However, with some of the region's best restaurants in town, this is hardly a problem. Rostei, a Catalan restaurant in Begur, is highly recommended, along with the stunning Sa Rascassa, another Catalan restaurant a short drive down the hill on the beach at Aiguaclara. There are also great tapas joints and seafood restaurants in town; reception can advise.

    The hotel doesn't have a bar but does have 2 honesty bar stations, one downstairs in the lounge and one by the restaurant. The restaurant has jazz nights on summer evenings from 10 to midnight.

    Features include:

    • Children meals
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Vegetarian menu
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Relax in the hotel with a leisurely breakfast, read the international newspapers, wander the medieval streets and boutiques of Begur at your leisure, then return to the hotel for an in-room massage

    • Walk up to the ruined and partially rebuilt castle at the top of the hill for sensational views of the coastline

    • Grab the hotel's beach towels, snorkelling gear and buckets and spades and head to the beach at Sa Tuna, Sa Riera or Aiguaclara, all within 5km

    • Go cycling or walking in the national parks nearby, especially beautiful in spring and autumn; reception can organise bike hire

    • Spend an afternoon exploring Girona's Jewish Quarter and architectural treasures, including its cathedral

    • Spend 2 days tracing the Dalí Triangle around Figueres, Cadaqués and Púbol. Gala’s Castle, his former home in Púbol, is the closest attraction

    • Ask Joan or Clara about booking a diving course, boat trip or snorkelling

    • Play golf on one of the numerous courses along the coast

    • Visit medieval towns and cruise around the countryside with its impressive crusader castles on impossibly high hills

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cycling
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Well being

    Kids

    This hotel is fantastic for families - not only are rooms spacious, but you're also within walking distance of cafés in Begur, and the castle, and the beaches nearby are great. The office is papered with pictures drawn by children on their holidays; Joan and Clara are parents themselves, though their children have well outgrown the crayon phase.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The Apartment is ideal for families with a double bedroom, a twin room and a large lounge and terrace. Of the rooms, the Standard Doubles are very roomy, although shower bathrooms are a little compact. Pick the Double Room with Terrace for more space and somewhere to dry your beach towels, or the spacious Junior Suites, which have baths as well as showers. Extra beds incur a small fee.

    Baby listening:

    A baby monitor should work in the building from rooms to the restaurant, but it may depend on what floor your room is on and what brand you use. Request a first-floor room if possible.

    Baby equipment:

    • Cots
    • High chairs

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

    Children's meals:

    A few child-pleasers are on the menu, including lasagne. The kitchen is happy to deal with any requests if made in good time. You may want to ask for an earlier dinner - the restaurant otherwise doesn't open until 7.30pm. There are plenty of places to eat in Begur.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Hanging egg chair in garden
    • Basket of beach toys and towels for the beach
    • Kids' concierge - Clara and Joan can advise on activities nearby
    • Bikes to hire

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Snorkelling and swimming in the sea
    • Beaches nearby
    • Walk to the ruined castle at the top of the hill for great views of Begur

    Families Should Know:

    There are no particular hazards.

    Distances:

    • Airport: 50 minutes (Girona)
    • Hospital: 20 minutes
    • Doctor: 10 minutes
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

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

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