Come, dream a little daydream with us…
It’s late September in Spain, the skies are cloudless and the Mediterranean sea is still warm for swimming. We pull into our hotel, where a valet quickly drives our rental car away, dispensing with the nuisance of having to deal with it. There’s an old-fashioned gracious feel as we check in (big brass room keys rest in wooden cubicles behind the reception desk). It contrasts nicely with our room, which is all white and bright and modern.
But it’s not the room our eyes focus on, it’s the view beyond our balcony.
We see the sun glinting off the different shades of turquoise of the sea outside. Small yachts bob up and down. A water skier takes off from the wooden jetty in front.
And there’s a bottle of chilled Cava on the desk just begging to be drunk outside, before the sun casts a pumpkin glow on the whole scene below.
Hotel Vistabella review: Location, location, location
When it comes to beautiful boutique hotels in the Mediterranean – ones with lots of blue and white that get their inspiration from the sea – Hotel Vistabella is hard to beat.
It kills the competition with its location. It’s close enough to Roses to choose from a plethora of restaurants, but far enough away to feel deliciously secluded (under two miles away). If you have a rental car (we did), you’ll be in Roses within three minutes.
The other point to note about the hotel’s great location is the Costa Brava coastal path that runs right by Hotel Vistabella. This path goes by many names – Camino de Ronda, the Costa Brava Way, the Costa Brava path – and hugs the rugged Costa Brava coastline for over 125 miles.
If you turn right from the hotel, as you’re facing the sea, you can walk into Roses. Turn left, and you pass beautiful beach coves then enter a huge wilderness nature reserve. We didn’t go as far as the picturesque town of Cadaques, but continue in this direction and you’ll reach Cadaques after about five hours of walking (the trail between Roses and Cadaques is a popular one for hikers).
There’s a mid-sized indoor pool with Moorish tiles in the basement and a hot tub on a small terrace overlooking the sea, but we couldn’t find an outdoor pool. When we asked about an outdoor pool, we were told, “You have the sea!”
And indeed, you have the sea. Right in front of the hotel.
Stone steps lead down to Bonifaci Beach, an almost-private golden pebble beach with clear turquoise water that screams “Come on in!” We did exactly that. It was particularly inviting after our sweaty trek on the coastal path!
Back up at the top of the steps is the hotel shower for rinsing off. (Yes, lots of going up-and-down! But good exercise, right?)
As bloomin’ pretty as a rose
Family-owned, the cliff-top Hotel Vistabella was built by the current owners’ grandfather. In 2000, it became the first five-star hotel in the northern Costa Brava area. Rumour has it that past guests include Salvador Dali, Penelope Cruz and Argentine football player Lionel Messi.
Hotel Vistabella doesn’t rest on its laurels, though.
All rooms and suites were recently renovated. If you’re a fan of the super-minimal, you’ll love the clean all-white décor. Our seaview room had white stone floors, white walls, white blinds and a white cotton coverlet on the very comfortable king-size bed. And there was lots of counterspace to stow cameras, laptops, books and other paraphernalia.
And the bathroom? It was sleek and sexy too; the bathtub had a glass window that looked into the bedroom and, while showering, we could peer right out through to the view outside. Our shower had a mind of its own, however, deciding that the floor and sink beyond the tub needed spraying too. No matter. Without complaint, the maids kindly replaced our soggy towels with piles of clean dry ones, twice a day.
Perhaps because we gravitate toward the traditional, it was the public areas that appealed to us the most.
Multi-tiered terraces jut out offering OMG sea views.
The main terrace, with garden areas blooming with flowers, has double day beds with white sail-shaped shades draped overhead. As we lounged there one afternoon, servers offered guests complimentary designer mini-cocktails – a rum-based berry drink topped with mango foam.
Smaller terraces have private corners with just enough room for two lounge chairs tucked under an umbrella.
High honors for the restaurants
Hotel Vistabella has five restaurants and bars – impressive for a 34-room hotel.
El Brancs has one Michelin star. We didn’t dine there, but we can tell you it boasts a long degustation menu of some 22 dishes (with seafood), a shorter gastronomic tasting menu of 15 dishes and a la carte choices. Hotel Vistabella has thoughtfully set out a detailed list here of other Michelin star restaurants within a 70-mile radius of the hotel.
El Piratu – steps from the sea – looks like it would be fun in the summertime. It had closed for the season when we were there, but we heard about its famous Sunday afternoon champagne parties. “People come by boat, there’s music and lots of Moet & Chandon!”
Sunsets to remember
We can’t end our Hotel Vistabella review without mentioning the sunsets. “In Roses the best sunsets of the whole country can be seen,” wrote Josep Pla, a famous Catalan journalist. Well, you can expect fiery orange sunsets at the end of each day at Hotel Vistabella.
So, we’ve drunk the Cava; swum in the Mediterranean sea; lounged in the late afternoon somnolent warmth; watched the water skiers; stuffed ourselves with eggs, bacon, pancakes, strawberries and pastries at breakfast; hiked along the coast; and ogled the sunsets. Now we have to pack our bags and move on…
But wasn’t that a pleasant daydream?
Hotel Vistabella review at a glance
Hotel Vistabella is a luxury boutique hotel with 34 modern rooms and suites. (For a splurge, book the very Daliesque “Surrealist Suite.”)
There are five restaurants and bars; El Brancs is Michelin-starred.
Beach and sea views:
Just outside of the town of Roses, in northeast Spain.
We flew to Barcelona and took the train to Girona, where we rented a car to reach Hotel Vistabella.
All photos are © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except where noted)
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We stayed at Hotel Vistabella as media guests for the purpose of this review. As ever, however, we kept the right to write what we like.