Sometimes, all you need is a sun-baked siesta – where you wake to the cooling breeze of early evening, a new ‘it will turn to tan’ line, and a still-snoring companion. Mas de Torrent, our new addition from Relais & Chateaux, is just the place: the pace is slow, the farmhouse is tranquilo and the surroundings are seductively sleepy (enough to lure pop princesses away from the limelight, it seems – Kylie, Shakira and Streisand have all stayed here). The tennis courts, bikes to rent, yoga space or gym could entice movement – and the promise of copious Catalan cuisine at the restaurant – but, in typical Spanish fashion, there’s no rush. Sit back, one of mixologist Manel Vehí's cocktails in hand, and soak it all in.
38 red-tiled rooms, including 34 suites – some of which have private pools.
Noon; earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £228.76 (€268), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.30 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include an afternoon-tea-esque three-tiered breakfast of artisan cheeses, cold meats and local farm yogurts. You can also order à la carte dishes spanning buckwheat pancakes, avocado and poached eggs, or ham and cheese omelettes.
As Torrent is tucked away enough for global chart-toppers, don’t be surprised to see low-caps and oversized sunglasses skulking around the pool: you could even don some yourself, to add to the mystery.
The hotel is closed throughout January and February every year.
At the hotel
Free parking, laundry service, WiFi, outdoor pool, indoor lap pool, sauna and hammam, Techo-gym equipment, hydrotherapy pools. In rooms: tea- and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer, bluetooth speakers, WiFi, bathrobes and slippers, Finca Serena toiletries
Our favourite rooms
Dawn-to-dusk sun worshippers will love room seven in the masia – its huge balcony catches the sunrise in the morning and sunset in the evening. The garden suites are particularly private, set away from the main building with their own pool, making them ideal for honeymooners or seclusion-seekers.
Two pools grace the grounds of Mas de Torrent: one nestled in the gardens, bordered by palm trees and parasols; and an adults-only lap pool in the spa. Both pools are open from 7am.
The spacious MasSpa features a hammam, sauna and Techo-gym equipment. Dip back and forth between the 14- and 38-degree hydrotherapy pools, activating circulation and relaxing muscles as you go. Or to really let go of inhibitions, book a Natura Bissé treatment – you’ll drift back to your room with perfectly pedicured toes and tension-free triceps. You can also book a couples room and an orange- and lavender- infused massage for a boost of romance.
Pack something pedal-able to make use of the free bikes (and e-bikes, if the rolling Spanish hills look a bit much); comfortable shoes are a must for mooching around mediaeval villages.
Space in the spa is reserved for yoga, pilates and meditation – there’s no need to bring your own mat. Private tennis and paddle lessons are available to minimise tennis-elbow type injuries.
Children’s menus are available at both of the restaurants; extra beds and cots can be added to larger rooms.
Nab a terrace table for a vista of glowing green landscape, especially in the height of summer.
You could go full-flamenco or fuss-free here: the food is fine dining but the atmosphere is relaxed (much like the hotel itself, infact).
Headed up by Chef Ramón Freixa, the restaurant at Mas de Torrent serves Catalan cuisine, using only the finest local produce. Star dishes include the turbot with suquet and the baby squid, but the croquettes and cannelloni are equally tasty. We loved the Iberico chargrilled pork – smokey as can be – and the elevated version of typical Gironan pastry Xuixo. You can choose from terrace-top tables with views over Empordà, or cosy enclaves by the well-stocked wine cellar.
Bar Glicinias feels something of a juxtaposition to the neutral tones and breezy rooms throughout Mas de Torrent – it’s dark and sultry, inducing late nights spent putting the world to rights over bottles of local wine. Many guests start their evenings here with a cocktail curated by renowned Spanish mixologist Manel Vehí. The ‘Sherry Rich’ is a Glicinias go-to, and certainly lives up to its name with the very best of ingredients: Veuve Clicquot Rich, Campari, Pedro Ximénez and strawberries. Others might feel more inclined to the Green Vibes Detox mocktail – a concoction of lemon Kombucha, pear juice, kale and agave nectar that will have tomorrow-you thanking last night-you.
A leisurely breakfast is served 8–11am in the poolside restaurant, and lunch 1–3.30pm. Dinner kicks off at 8pm, giving you more than enough time for that aftersun-aroma holiday moment. At night, call for la cuenta by 10.30pm.
Room service is not just available, but encouraged: the expansive menu ideal for those wishing to be more discreet. Order fresh asparagus salad, Iberian ham, reams of Catalan cheese or braised artichokes, finished with a lemon pie and delicate white wine.
Mas de Torrent is a stone-clad finca inland from the Costa Brava, a north-eastern region of Spain dotted with mediaeval villages, beach coves and vineyards.
Girona-Costa Brava airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel: contact the hotel directly to book transfers.
You can arrive into Girona by train from Paris or Barcelona (www.raileurope.co.uk) and the station is a 50-minute drive from Mas de Torrent.
It’s worth having wheels in Empordá – if only for reaching the Brava beaches and tapas bars – and the hotel has free parking on-site. Roadtrippers might arrive from Girona (50 minutes), Barcelona (two hours), or further afield: France is surprisingly close – the old town of Perpignan and its gothic palace are just across the border.
Copters can plug in the coordinates 415717 ºN 3734 ºE; while sailors of the Spanish sea can drop anchor at Palamos Port (latitude 41º 45' N and longitude 2º 58). Aye aye, capitán.
Worth getting out of bed for
Empordà’s patchwork of terracotta roofs, pine-tree topped hills and icing-sugar white casas can easily be explored by bike or car. Head to nearby mediaeval towns (Begur is beautiful, as is Esclanyà), glistening coves washed with the waves of the Mediterranean, and idyllic fishing villages such as Sa Tuna (an apt name, if ever we’ve heard one): all give a taste of life in Costa Brava. Drives between villages are punctuated only by rice fields, fruit orchards, forests and farmland – you’re never too far from an olive tree or a vineyard here.
There are plenty of great beaches, too, so pick from our favourites: Cala S'eixugador’s bay of blues and greens; S'Agaró for its beach-hut backdrop; or Illa Roja’s transparent waters and red-tinted rock view. Those with an ocean-exploring agenda can hire a motor boat from Tamariu, and set sail for Pedrosa cove, where you can moor up and swim ashore to a tiny restaurant selling prawns and omelettes. Good snorkelling can be found here, as well as further north – the underwater life around Marquesa comes recommended.
Late lunches of grilled squid and chilled rosé (a perfect pairing for the heat) can be enjoyed at waterside restaurant Es Furió de Fito in Sa Tuna. For dinner, nearby Pals is fit for food lovers: dine on steaming seafood paella and Spanish wines at Sol Blanc, a traditional mas set among a mass of rice fields; or in the courtyard of old-world style El Pedro, well loved for rice casseroles and grilled seafood. Indulgent tasting menus worthy of two Michelin stars can be found at Bo.TiC – made even more special because of the setting in an old carriage carpentry. Seasonal menus are prepared by young and talented chefs at Casamar overlooking Llafranc beach; you can choose from dishes focused on the land or sea, or an entirely vegetarian menu.
Begur is your best bet for bars in Brava. Informal C-Roack is lantern-lit and lively; or head to the hilltop for a G&T with castle views at El Jardí de Can Marc – we’d recommend arriving around 8pm for a pre-dinner buzz and some tapas to kick off the evening.
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 calming Catalonian hotel in Empordà and recovered from their wine-tasting-induced hangover, a full account of their farmhouse break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Mas de Torrent in Costa Brava…
Columnar trees stand tall against the stone-clad Catalan farmhouse – taller, infact, than the typical-of-the-area terracotta roof. The main building retains much of its features from 1751, such as old wood beams and the odd chandelier. Of all the rooms at Mas de Torrent, it's the reception that’s notably rural and rustic, featuring cord carpets and a salmon-coloured stone chimney. From its open doors span a maze of paths leading to quaint corners, lavender-covered lawns and suites with private pools. Peace and quiet is not hard to come by here. That said, evenings are spent at the full-of-life restaurant terrace, with guests keeping to themselves but enjoying the buzz; especially when still-sizzling bowls of gambas sweep past, ushered to tables of sun-tired travellers. And when la cuenta is called and you’re back in the marshmallow-soft bed of your suite, don’t bother to set an alarm for the morning. You’re on holiday, after all.