Just 2 1/2 hours from Mazamet, on the outskirts of a medieval Spanish village, a haven of peace awaits.
With so many wonderful places to visit & stay in France, we don’t often feature properties in Spain… so why the exception? Well, we loved it and thought you might too! And, with many of our guests flying into/out of Barcelona airport, it’s an ideal spot to spend a few nights en Espagne.
We recently had a rare treat, three days away in the middle of the season as Mark turned 50. Now in our 11th season, Mark’s not been able to have a day off on his birthday in all those years (unlike me, Peter, with a November birthday, just after our season ends). A year ago, we decided that we would mark this landmark birthday with three days away; so Mark closed out the diary and I set about searching for a perfect place – not too far away, yet far enough to be both relaxing and special.
Hotel Peralada is a purpose built resort of 64 bedrooms, a wonderful 18 hole golf course, outdoor pool, restaurant and spa… just a 15 min walk from the beautiful village of Perelada itself (and also 15 mins drive from the city of Figueres; home of the spectacular Dali museum). The hotel also owns vineyards, a Michelin star restaurant set within a 13th century castle; wine shop & a bistro – all of which are located in the old town.
Our room was beautifully appointed; immaculately clean, spacious and supremely comfortable. With views over the pool, gardens & putting greens it was idyllic and just want we had hoped for.
Having booked on a gastronomic break, our package included dinner in all three eateries (two in the hotel, and the Michelin star restaurant Castell Peralada in the village). We commenced our break by a visit to the Bodega, the aforementioned wine shop owned by the Hotel (or rather, Group Peralada). For just 10€ each, we were first taken to view the nearby vineyards which have a stunning backdrop of the Pyrénées; next the tour took us to the most impressive barrel room, containing 4,000 wine barrels as well as an astonishing wine library (80 bottles of each and every vintage dating back 20 years) and finally back to the bodega for a tasting.
Perelada’s vineyards, located in the Emporda wine region of Spain, produce a variety of reds, whites & rosés. It’s fair to say, this is quite a commercial operation; but that’s not to detract from the quality of their wines which we really enjoyed, both at the tasting and subsequent dinners. We purchased a case of their beautiful Finca Espolla, our favourite from the tasting, which reflected the wines we most enjoy from the Minervois region back over the border in France.
We returned to the hotel ready to settle in and await our first evening’s dining experience, the tapas menu from their wine bar. Set on a terrace which overlooks the first tee of the golf course; the service was friendly and engaging and we enjoyed a bottle of white called “Indispensable” along with a great selection of cold, warm & then dessert tapas – the evening rounded off a perfect welcome & first few hours at the resort.
On the big day itself (after a lovely breakfast served on the terrace) I had arrange for Mark to play 9 holes with the golf pro Paul Brown who had been so helpful in setting up the lesson as a surprise. The course is impeccably maintained and (I am no golfer) quite challenging, attested by the fact Mark returned with 4 fewer balls than he started with !!
An afternoon by the pool, followed by time in the Wine Spa and treatments; we then enjoyed a much-needed siesta ahead of our walk into the village for dinner at the restaurant Castell Peralada The restaurant is a jewell of the hotel group’s portfolio. Set within the stunning 13th century castle in the centre of Perelada Village…. in addition to the restaurant, the castle holds a museum of glass, wine museum & an impressive library (all of which saved for our next visit) – in addition to the, rather incongruous, modern casino (not for us on this nor the next visit!).
With a perfect table on the terrace overlooking the castle’s moat, our tasting menu & wine flight was a great experience. It’s hard to describe the cuisine other than to say it’s Michelin quality tapas-style tasting plates which included the most extensive cheese trolley (85 cheeses) we had ever witnessed; so extensive, it was accompanied by it’s own al la carte menu!
Having sat for dinner at 8.45pm, we left our table and made our way back to the hotel at 12.30pm….the 15 min walk on a balmy summer’s evening helping (only slightly) to remove some of the calories consumed. We did not need much rocking to get us off to sleep after a wonderful day.
The following morning, our last full day in Perelada, we enjoyed another breakfast on the terrace and then decided to take the short drive to the coast. We know the Costa Brava quite well and opted to venture to the picture-perfect town Cadeques, a 25 min drive. Cadeques, where Dali did much of his painting, is a white-washed fishing village which would not look out of place on a Greek island. With a plethora of restaurants, bars and cafes, nestling along the foreshore and cobbled streets that run behind, it’s a truly wonderful place which we have enjoyed on many previous visits.
After another siesta (one can easily slip into the Spanish way of life!) it was time for our final meal and the tasting menu at L’Oliveria restaurant. During the summer, the hotel’s wine bar (where we had enjoyed tapas the first evening) and L’Oliveria restaurant share the same terrace. The tasting menu, paired solely with wines from the Peralada wineries, was great. Light dishes of fish, vegetables & grilled meats were perfectly balanced and rounded off our gastronomic break.
Hotel Peralada is a great short-break destination. Located between between the airports of Perpignan (50 mins) & Girona (40 mins); By train, the nearest main station is Figueres (5km) and then a short taxi ride. Barcelona airport is 1hr 45 mins and a two/three night break on arriving into Europe or before you depart would be a great start or end to your holiday.
For further information, visit Hotel Peralada
NB – its not a typo that I’ve spelt Perelada also Peralada – and, to be honest, I am not exactly sure why it is spelt with both the e and a; however my understanding, which by all means please correct if you know, is that the town is named Perelada and anything, like a vineyard, hotel, associated with the town is spelt Peralada.