Wellness-focused bed and breakfast Can Mascort Eco Hotel will lift your spirits before you’ve set foot inside, with its cheery goldenrod façade standing out like a beacon in Catalan Palafrugell’s historic centre, just inland of the Costa Brava. Go toward the light and bright rooms (some with original terracotta tiles, stone arches and staircases), the sun-flooded roof terrace, and cosy library with its honesty bar and piano to play on and you’ll find heaven. This 17th-century former apothecary and pharmacy (the latter now an organic boutique) has, in its Earth-kind renovation, found new healing properties, with a caldarium, nourishing breakfasts and even a layout that keeps the good energy flowing.
Please note, the hotel is still doing some fine-tuning, so the images of the spa and terrace are renders, but we'll show you the final product soon.
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A fruit bowl, fruit juices and free water in your room on arrival
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability (let the hotel know your ETA). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £92.23 (€107), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €0.66 per person per night on check-out.
Rates don’t include breakfast (from €20 a person).
The hotel has one room suitable for guests with mobility issues, and uniquely for a historic building there’s an elevator to the first and second floors.
The caldarium will be open to guests in October, and the hotel will be adding an afternoon tea service from 5pm to 9pm.
At the hotel
Apothecary, solarium terrace, herb garden, caldarium, honesty bar, library, bike storage and rental, free WiFi. In rooms: Organic cotton towels and bedding, natural and ecological bath products. There are no TVs to keep things purposefully peaceful.
Our favourite rooms
Rooms have a coolly spartan feel, with their white walls, rouged concrete tiles and wood and wicker furnishings, with no TVs (you’re here to relax) and little embellishment. The effect is indeed calming, but it’s not to say they’re devoid of character – each has a little something unique, such as Ermedàs, which has a section of original staircase under which there’s a cosy nook; or the Junior Suites most of which have original stone arches or sloping beamed ceilings. And, to keep things light and help you up those vitamin-D levels, skylights have been added where possible.
You might be on the Costa Brava, but you can relax Roman-style in the caldarium, a bath-tub warm, chlorine-free soaking pool under stone vaulted ceilings. Afterwards, take yourself to the solarium terrace for supine sunbathing.
Don’t bring a bulky guidebook, the hotel has lots of literature on the surroundings and plenty of ideas for things to do. Do strap on a bike rack though, because the hotel has storage onsite and there are some breathtaking routes to follow, and leave some room for the eco-friendly bath products, olive oil, herbs, toys, handicrafts, natural wines and organic chocolate sold in the apothecary-turned-boutique.
Get cosy in the hotel’s library, which has books on bio-habitability, sustainability, personal development and healthy eating; board games; and a piano to tinkle with.
You’ll need to bring distractions – Can Mascort’s soothing hideaways don’t have TVs – but there are lots of room configurations for families of various sizes.
The hotel lives up to its green name. The 17th-century building it’s set in has been updated with kid gloves and strong ethics – bioclimatic design helped to save energy, original features (hydraulic tiles, arches, staircases) were restored wherever possible, natural materials are used in both construction and decor, solar panels are used, lighting has a natural look and motion detectors are installed, and the hotel’s layout has even been styled to have a harmonious flow. Plastics have been reduced, toiletries are custom and all natural, and the hotel has 0km breakfasts and snacks, using herbs from the garden and wholly local, seasonal products. And, their apothecary store sells eco-friendly goods.
The solarium terrace has wicker loungers, chairs and pouffes to perch on, a fragrant herb and flower garden, and views over the historic centre’s shingled rooftops and cobbled alleys.
You’ll only be eating breakfast or schlubbing about in the library, so even a chic pair of pyjamas would be acceptable.
The hotel only serves breakfast, but it’s a strong serve. For one, the dining room has charming historic touches: terracotta floor tiles, a florally frescoed ceiling. And, the breakfast itself (all local, seasonal, tick, tick, tick…) might be granola and yoghurt topped with fresh fruit and garden herbs one morning, energy bowls and pastries the next, or avo toast topped with a runny egg, plus something tastily health-giving after that. Let staff know what you’re doing that day and they’ll recommend what’s good to keep you going. If you feel peckish throughout the rest of the day, nose around the apothecary, where there’s usually a homemade cake resting under a cloche, ice-creams and sorbets, or savoury nibbles (cheeses, Empordà-style sandwiches, pâté). For adventure, the hotel will wrap salads, fruits, cereals, sweets, drinks and more in eco-friendly packaging for a picnic.
The honesty bar is open 24 hours a day and has a healthy selection of water, teas, infusions, juices, kombuchas, coffee and snacks – and a few naughtier alcoholic options. Just jot down what you knock back.
Breakfast runs from 8.30am to 10.30am, and snacks are offered from 5pm to 9pm.
Can Mascort Eco Hotel is in the heart of Palafrugell’s historic centre, amid slender Mediaeval alleys. Slightly inland from the Costa Brava, it’s an excellent base for both cove-hopping and country rambles.
The closest airport is Girona – Costa Brava, about a 50-minute drive away; however, it only handles a small number of direct routes throughout Europe. For a wider selection of connections and international arrivals, land in Barcelona, a two-hour drive from the hotel.
If you’re interrailing through Europe, Girona train station (a 50-minute drive from the hotel) can be reached direct from Montpellier, offering a smooth transition from the Eurostar to Paris to the South of France.
Palafrugell is very walkable – in fact, most of its streets are too narrow for a car to fit down – albeit on the small side. You’ll definitely want to break its bounds and hop along the coast, which can be done biking and hiking, but a car will open up more adventures (and remote Michelin-starred restaurants) for you. You can’t drive down the road the hotel’s on, but nearby public parking less than five minutes walk away is €15 a night – and it’s possible to book a room and parking space in one on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
Equidistant between Barcelona and Montpellier, centrally located along the Costa Brava in the Empordà region of Catalonia, ancient Palafrugell acts as a gateway to the blustery beauty and hidden coves of the coast and the woods and colour-bursts of wildflowers in the hinterland. In the town itself, there’s the 11th-century church of Sant Martí, a lively plaza, and Museo del Suro – which looks at Catalan’s cork industry and is surprisingly pop-ular (sorry). The Can Mario Museum is the Fundació Vila Casas museum of contemporary sculpture, with hundreds of modern pieces, and for something at the opposite end of the timeline, the Monumental Complex of Sant Sebastià de la Guarda has an Iberian archaeological site dating back to the 6th-century BC. And, that about covers Palafrugell’s 4km-squared. But, like the weights on a trawl net, steeped-in-time fishing villages are strung along the shore, each with golden beaches lapped with water that looks like God cleaned his brushes in it during his ‘blue’ period. Calella is the closest, also famed for the Cap de Roig gardens and its annual jazz festival. Llafranc is low-key and laidback, and Tamariu is an off-track spot known for excellent diving opportunities. A footpath runs along the coast if you want to hike or bike to all three (the hotel has bikes to borrow, or storage if you’ve brought your own), and for photo ops, hike up to Sant Sebastià lighthouse. You could also follow the Camino de Ronda, but you need a boat to go the whole hog. Head inland to the olive groves, pine clusters, meadows, marshes and patchworks of wildflowers for country walks and forest bathing; follow the circular Pirinexus cycling route around the Catalan Pyrenees (at its loveliest in autumn or winter); or go on foot along the Josep Plà hike. Make the 30-minute drive to Castell de Púbol, which surrealist Dalí bought for his wife and muse Gala – naturally he added a few of his own touches. And, if you’ve arrived from January to March, you can partake in La Garoinada, a gastronomic festival famed for its sea urchins and their eggs. And, Can Mascort hotel itself has an array of feel-good workshops, through yoga, meditation, tai chi, feng shui, talks on bio-construction, nutrient-focused cooking workshops, painting and music classes, and organic brunches.
Dining along the Costa Brava throws up humble pleasures: bread thickly smeared with brightly flavoured tomatoes, earthy foraged mushrooms, dorado emerging silky and pliant from a salt crust, warming bags of chestnuts… And, there are the less humble – to the north was the site of Ferran Adrià’s historic El Bulli restaurant, and further inland you’ll find high-ranking restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, worth the drive to Girona for the likes of fig-leaf soup with pistachio, watermelon and mustard seeds; or tempura marigold flowers with pine-pollen cream, cardamom-infused apricots, elderberry, pickled mulberry and fermented-saffron honey. Book yesterday for a table. Closer to home Palafrugell will feed you well. Far Nomo is novelly set in the Sant Sebastiá lighthouse, with thick stone walls and beams, a terrace with sweeping sea views and an idiosyncratic Catalan-Japanese menu. Try scallop-strung skewers with foie and teriyaki sauce, octopus okonomiyaki, gyoza stuffed with butifarra. In keeping with the maritime theme, La Blava is set in a pretty blue-and-white converted fisherman’s house, and serves mostly sealife: tempura sea anemones, fried squid with allioli, sardines on crystal bread with tomato marmalade or inky black cuttlefish paella. And, L’Arc’s interior may be a touch mumblecore, but its menu speaks volumes, with seaweed-marinated salmon sashimi with pea hummus and soy mayonnaise, sweet-and-sour-sauce-lacquered pork ingot with baked apple, and drunken rum cake with ricotta, lemon cream and cinnamon ice-cream.
The Costa Brava has its own DO (Denominació d’Origen): DO Empordà, which applies to the full-bodied reds it bottles. There are few wine bars in Palafrugell, but you should stop by Vins i Licors Grau to stock up on a few authentic vintages.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this one-hand-clapping hotel in Palafrugell’s historic centre and unpacked their all-natural lotions and potions (custom-made for the hotel) and new ideas about sustainability, a full account of their learning-while-lazing break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Can Mascort Eco Hotel in Catalonia…
The Calm App wishes it had the pacifying powers of Can Mascort Eco Hotel – after all, swishy-swashy music, wish-you-were-here nature pics and timed meditation dings can only get you so far. But, the hotel has had centuries of practice at keeping humans calm and well – when it was built in the 17th century it housed an apothecary (now the hotel kitchen) and a pharmacy (now a boutique selling organic treats and custom-blend beauty products), so you could say it was built on wellness – and now (well, in October when it fully opens) in those foundations you’ll find a candlelit caldarium. Keeping on an ethereal level is effortless here as you float through your day: staff will help you choose the most beneficial breakfast (all seasonal, local etc.), you can skip from soaking to sunbathing on the solarium, and days draw out playing piano or board games in the library, nabbing homemade cake from the boutique, and chugging kombucha from the honesty bar, before slumbering in designed-not-to-disturb rooms. But, you might want to snap into action for some of your stay, for cove-exploring along the Costa Brava, biking through virgin hinterland, and attending vital talks on subjects the hotel knows a great deal about: bioclimatic construction, sustainability, human-focused design and other eco impartments. Don’t worry though, with a glass of DO Empordà wine, enjoyed while looking over the Mediaeval rooftops, it’s easy to slip right back into serenity.