Our new contributor Jackie Bryant reports from Hotel Mas de Torrent in Spain:
Spain is no stranger to rustic chic, as many hotels in the countryside are repurposed feudal manors and farmhouses. In the northeastern region of Catalonia, these old homes called mas or masia dot the rolling hills. Some are more updated than others, and the most successful are those that have been able to tap into the physical beauty and abundance of the region to create a more encompassing experience for the visitor. Hotel Mas de Torrent is just such a place. It´s an hour and a half drive from Barcelona, just outside the village of Torrent in the Baix Emporda and Costa Brava areas.Views from the hotel include the medieval city of Pals, distant mountains, farmland, and the Mediterranean Sea. Between the amazing restaurant, the gorgeous pool area, and the full service spa, you might not want to leave the property–but free bikes provide some motivation to explore.
There are 37 rooms: either in the masia itself, in the garden. The most exclusive rooms boast private pools and art dedicated to Picasso by famous artists such as Joan Miro and poet Pablo Neruda. The smaller garden suites have a tranquil white, minimalist design and functional layout, an aesthetic in stark contrast to the 16thcentury stone grandeur of the suites in the masia. Both spaces are intuitively designed, so it really depends if you prefer something more modern or quaint.
The spa, hidden in a lush garden at the back of the property, offers access to hydrotherapy pools, saunas, the gym, and a full range of treatments from facials to massages. The décor is sleek and modern, with dimmed lighting and a relaxing ambiance. The service is excellent and the prices moderate compared to other luxury hotels.
The true gem of Mas de Torrent is the restaurant, run by head chef Jordi Garrido, who comes to the hotel by way of culinary powerhouse cities such as San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela, and Barcelona after enjoying his own restaurant success in his native Valencia. I enjoyed a full tasting and was able to have a short chat with Jordi about his philosophy and ambitions, and found it matched my experience perfectly. He is focused on sourcing ingredients exclusively from the immediate area, as it provides everything he needs, including rice, seafood, wine, meat, and vegetables. The hotel also has an expansive herb garden on site. He is passionate with the quality of products, which he tries to showcase as much as possible. The result is an authentic yet innovative showcase of Catalan cuisine, with attentive service, an extensive and surprising local wine list, and more of that breathtaking countryside view that packs in everything from the mountains to the sea. Plus, you´re eating in a 16th century manor and afterwards, you either stumble up the stairs or across the garden to your very comfortable bed. It´s hard to beat that.
When I visited Mas de Torrent, I already knew it was in a region with a lot to do and see, and expected to do a little exploring. If I had more time, I probably would have, but in the couple of days I was there I didn´t even leave the hotel because it was so beautiful and peaceful, the food was so good, and I found I just couldn´t tear myself away. I know this isn´t the first time on Hotel Chic we´ve wanted to move into a hotel, and this place completely lives up to that.
If you visit, know that the spa and restaurant are open only from May-November. The summer is the most popular time to visit this area, but the weather in this part of Spain is fantastic well into October, when you´ll enjoy less crowds in the neighboring towns, at the beach, and at the hotel. This is when the locals tend to take their vacations, and in my opinion it´s the best time to visit, especially as the water is still warm enough to swim in!