Cases Noves, 1; Santa Pau; Garrotxa, Girona
Immediate enchantment. Santa Pau is a perfect medeival fairy tale town. The sort of magical place you could bang away at a typewriter in a window overlooking the cobbled square, producing a work of literary greatness; breaking off only to seek further inspiration in a landscape that is volcanic and lush, or to refuel in royally artistic style at the Cal Sastre, one of Catalonia’s renowned restaurants.
The first time we visited Santa Pau was only for an afternoon. It was time enough to be charmed and to pig out on a feast at the Restaurant Cal Sastre. We’d seen the hotel of the same name then and loved its quirky eccentricity. We didn’t think that we’d actually get to stay there, Santa Pau is a small town and we didn’t imagine we’d be back that particular way again.
So it was a huge surprise and delight to discover that the Hotel Cal Sastre was to be our base when we were in the Pyrenees to do some route checking and a bit of (bad) acting as models for Inntravel.
Santa Pau is a dream location for people like us – full of character, overflowing with history, beautiful countryside all around and food that blends traditional and contemporary to wow your taste-buds. It’s a beautiful, atmospheric base from which to explore this part of Garrrotxa whether on foot, bicycle or Segway. The Hotel Cal Sastre fits the character of the town like a glove – historic but with amusing little touches that reflect the playfulness of proprietor Jesus Pont, who seems to have a permanent mischievous twinkle in his eyes and who is passionate about promoting his area.
The hotel is located inside the old walls of the town and is constructed from the same attractive mix of stones as every other building in Santa Pau. Step inside and it feels like you’ve stepped into the home of a batty bohemian in an Agatha Christie novel. It’s slightly old fashioned but in an appealing way.
It’s what we’d call a hotel with bags of character, just like its owner.
There are ten rooms. Some are decorated in a sort of rustic farm house style, others are more whimsical. Ours was quite basic, clean and comfortable with lots of dark polished wood furnishings. It had a writing desk and a flat screen TV but best of all was a big terrace, with vine covered railings, that looked out over the gardens to the luscious countryside beyond. The room I really coveted though was a bit more of a bohemian affair and was accessed by a narrow staircase beside the bar. The hotel does have wifi but it isn’t very strong. Best bet is to try to access it from one of the little living rooms opposite the reception.
It’s simply a fantastic base and a tranquil place to relax after a day exploring. The living rooms inside are cosy and quaint if the weather isn’t being friendly whilst the big garden is perfect for enjoying a cerveza at other times. The Cal Sastre has a nice little bar as well.
Breakfast is in a room that feels a bit like a wine cellar, quite common in Catalonia, and consists of the usual Catalonian type breakfast ingredients – pan amb tomaquet, croissants, jams, fruit juice and delicious local chorizos, sausages and cheeses; everything is wonderfully fresh.
The jewel is the restaurant which is situated a few minutes away in the town – it’s no hardship to walk through Santa Pau at any time of the day or night.
The food at the Restaurant Cal Sastre is exceptionally good. It’s an impossible task to say which is better, the els fesols de Santa Pau or Jesus’ famous cannelloni.
We’ve got a real soft spot for Cal Sastre, partly down to the charm of Santa Pau and partly due to the friendliness of Jesus Pont and family. We’d go back in a second. Firstly because we really like the place and secondly because twice, for one reason or another, we’ve narrowly missed out on taking an early morning balloon ride over the volcanoes.
Cases Noves, 1; Santa Pau; tel: +34 972 680 049; double rooms with breakfast cost from around €85 per night.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+