Think of the Costa Brava and British hen parties on the lash probably spring to mind.
So it is a delight to discover there is far more to the Costa Brava on the Catalan coast than full Monty breakfasts, kiss-me-quick-hats and wall-to-wall foam parties.
The vibe of the region says “sophistication” rather than “stag night”. That’s why the tenor of this article is very much a homage to Catalonia.
Take the Alàbriga Hotel and Home Suites on the Costa Brava.
Sitting on a hillside above a gorgeous crescent beach in Sant Pol, a few miles outside Girona, this is an all-suite establishment that oozes class.
The hotel’s design, comprising four wavy white “decks”, is based on a superyacht. So you can stand on your balcony next to your own personal olive tree, looking out over the Mediterranean, channelling your inner rock star.
The Alàbriga is replete with bespoke artwork such as the statue of a woman clad in leopardskin draped across a grand piano in the lounge, reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys.
The attention to detail is impressive. For instance, you access your room by using a secret-agent-style fingerprint pad, and the seven-layer mattresses are so comfortable, many guests buy them and take them home at the end of their stay.
The Alàbriga offers many excellent facilities, including Terra, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a top-class spa and a very enticing Sea Club with a seawater pool.
You can also hire out the hotel’s boat, a stylish Azimut 58 with jet-ski. As you pootle out of the marina, which contains more superyachts than you can shake a zilionaire’s chequebook at, the captain’s mate offers you champagne in branded Moet & Chandon glasses.
Gliding across the emerald water you can admire the grandiose Bond villain-esque villas perched on the edge of the rugged sandstone cliff tops.
You can imagine Blofeld stroking his white cat and plotting world domination in one of these earthly paradises.
A day on the yacht is just one of many aspects that makes a stay at the Alàbriga a luscious, luxurious experience.
The local area is rich with fascinating cultural sites, such as the Casa-Museu Castell Gala Dali in Púbol, just up the road from the Alàbriga.
Dating back to the 11th Century, the castle was given by the artist Salvador Dali to his wife Gala in 1971. The twist was that she told him he could only visit if she had sent him a written invitation in advance. Who says romance is dead?
Underlining Dali’s reputation as the King of Kitsch, the castle is full of the most wonderfully tacky and surreal objects, such as a table whose legs are fashioned in the shape of ostrich legs, a chessboard whose pieces are golden replicas of Dali and Gala’s fingers.
You can also see Dali’s sculpture of Gala wearing a brass sculpture of men at prayer and a baguette on her head, ants on her face and a necklace made from a chain of corn on the cobs, surely the most bizarre tribute a husband has ever given to his wife.
The castle underlines two things – that Dali was extremely odd and that he led his entire life as a work of art.
A few miles down the road from Púbol is the splendid medieval city of Girona.Founded by the Romans in 73 BC, the city is notable for its stunning cathedral, built in 1015.
There are 91 steps leading up to its entrance. Local legend has it that with every one you climb, you will expunge one sin (if only it were that easy).
Another celebrated site in Girona is a 12th Century stone statue in Plaça de Sant Feliu by the river Onyar. It depicts a lion clinging to a column.
If you wish to make a happy return to the city, so the story goes, you must climb the steps next to it and kiss the lion’s derriere – I’m sorry, I don’t know what that word is in Spanish.
So taken am I by the charms of the city that, as soon as I hear the local myth, I rush to scale the steps and plant a smacker on the lion’s behind.
At that moment, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, I vow: “I’ll be back!”
P.S. Fans of Game Of Thrones will recognise many sights as the fantasy drama has used Girona for several key scenes. Margaery Tyrell starts her walk of shame from the cathedral (doubling as the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing). And Jaime Lannister rides his horse up the steps to the cathedral to confront the High Sparrow.