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Hostal de La Gavina: Movie star destination in a culinary heartland on the Costa Brava

© SYSTEMThese turquoise waters can't be beaten. Image: Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board
These turquoise waters can't be beaten. Image: Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board

“This is the bar where Frank Sinatra confronted Ava Gardner about her affair with a Spanish bullfighter,” said Christian Kirschner, director of sales and marketing at Hostal de La Gavina.

I sipped my champagne, eyes travelling along the wall of photos from Frank and Ava to Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, José Carreras and, of course, Sean Connery.

In the 1920s, Josep Ensesa Gubert convinced his father to create an exclusive garden village, affectionately known as S’Agaró, overlooking the Mediterranean on Costa Brava. Hostal de La Gavina – la gavina meaning seagull – was at its heart, sitting perched on the rocks overlooking the beach and water. Over the next century, 11 rooms became 84, with the fourth generation of the family now at its helm.

You can lounge by the pool or take a stroll along the coast.

The hotel exudes luxury. I can safely say I have never slept by embellished golden wallpaper before, or had to take a running jump at my bed to make the grand height of it. Each room is different too, from the layout and style to the ornate furniture, ornaments and art the family has collected for the hotel through the years. In some cases, similar can only be found in the Louvre.

It doesn’t take long wandering the corridors or peeking into rooms to grasp just how many different styles and influences there have been upon the hotel. In some areas you might think yourself in imperial Japan, in others the cool red floors are those of a family home. New garden suites are opening soon. As soon as you step out onto any of the balconies or terraces though, one thing that marries them all is the view of the sea.

Many of the rooms have views out over the water. Image: Mirenalos

When I visited for a long weekend in May, the temperature in S’Agaró fluctuated around the mid-20s – perfect for exploring La Gavina’s manicured gardens, fresh petals on the grass the only remnants of a recent wedding. Comfy loungers line the saltwater swimming pool, but if you prefer nature’s own, the beach is but a minute’s walk, the deeper turquoise waters peppered with swimmers and paddle boarders, and the shallows with tiny splashing feet. I recommend choosing a lounger at the edge of the terrace so you can sit with the pool on one side and the sea on the other. If you can peel yourself from the hotel grounds, you can follow the Cami de Ronda walking trail which hugs the coast.

La Gavina has a spa – its massage suites boast views out over the sea – and tennis courts, but the real jewels in its crown are its restaurants. Each of the four offers something different. Candlelight is overseen by Michelin-starred chef Romain Fornell and spearheaded by sous chef Oriol Fernandez, Garbi offers healthy Mediterranean dishes, El Barco serves seasonal tapas and La Taverna del Mar on the beach is famed for its local seafood.

© Supplied by Hostal de La Gavina
The entry into Hostal de La Gavina.

Standouts from my stay included croquettes from El Barco, served beneath the stars with crispy shells giving way to silky centres. The salt baked seabass at La Taverna del Mar was deliciously fresh, and the mango and passionfruit cheesecake that followed more than lived up to the hype Christian had placed upon it. A tomato tartare, traditional of the region, was a dish I hadn’t tried before despite my love of tapas. The region’s wine of course punctuated every bite.

Breakfast was a whole affair in and of itself, and I headed straight for the stunningly presented buffet of tropical fruits, meats and cheeses and pasteries that may as well have been artworks. Service at La Gavina is old-school, with uniformed waiters and maids and a turn-down service in the evening I could certainly get used to. It is pristine without pomp; I didn’t feel out of place strolling through the marble lobby in my sandals with my book headed for the pool for example.

© Supplied by Hostal de La Gavina
You need to pop down to Taverna del Mar for a meal on the beach.

There is more than enough to do in S’Agaró, but if you want to venture beyond it, it is less than half an hour’s drive from Girona and around an hour from Barcelona. We opted to spend a morning with Girona Food Tours in the former, uncovering what I now know to be a true culinary capital. Our guide Marc weaved us through the cobbled streets, taking in the popular sites of the canal and the cathedral. The local xuixo pastry was divine, like a posh custard doughnut – as blasphemous as that might be as comparison.

You also need to book a day trip with La Gastronomica. Run by husband and wife duo Clara Antúnez and Jaume Montanyà, they combine their culinary expertise with a gorgeous boat trip around the coast. Despite a cloudy start as we set off from Palamos, blue skies and sunshine appeared as we dropped the anchor for a spot of lunch. I say a spot of lunch, it was more a feast including fresh bread and tomatoes, a squid stew and the most incredible regional red prawns – they were so good it didn’t even take much convincing for me to suck on the heads. Whether it was sensible or not with full tummies, we couldn’t resist a swim in the crystal clear waters before returning to shore.

Hostal de La Gavina is coastal luxury, fueled by stories, style and the sea. Whether you want to spend your days strolling along the Cami de Ronda before lounging by the pool with a cocktail in hand, or are looking for a retreat to return to in the evenings after exploring the hustle and bustle of Girona or Barcelona, rest assured you’ll be treated like the stars who walked the corridors before you.

The perfect place to relax.


The Cami de Ronda walking route is just one of many things put in place to celebrate 100 years of S’Agaró this year. There are firework displays, outdoor concerts, open-air cinemas and more planned for the summer months.


For more information and to book, go to
Rates start from €280 (approx. £239) per night for a Classic Room, including breakfast.

For more information on Girona Food Tours, go to
For more information on La Gastronomica, go to