We recently got the chance to stay at one of Catalonia’s most unique and newest five-star hotels — the Hotel Sants Metges. Housed in an ancient fortress near Girona city, this stay turned out to be more than we’d hoped for, complete with a gem museum and a gourmet restaurant.
Just 20-minutes from Girona’s centre, atop a large hill, we were filling our lungs with clear air and taking in the vast views over Catalonia’s fields and vineyards. There’s little doubt why this high point was used as a defence post in the past, nor why the spot had been chosen as a refined retreat in the present day. Upon our arrival, we didn’t know much about the Hotel Sants Metges, as it had just opened and we were eager to discover more about this much-talked about five-star property.
The somewhat exclusive feeling was enhanced when we realised the taxi driver from Girona train station hadn’t even heard of it. “I know the area”, he said bemusedly, “but I’ve never been up there. It’s… a castle, no?”. Esme and I both laughed and explained it had recently been converted to a hotel. After we helped the driver around the inclined roads with Google Maps, we entered through a secure gate and pulled up right at the top. Still-surprised, the taxi driver left us and we gazed around while our bags were efficiently taken inside.
Ambience and Service
After being warmly welcomed, we were taken through a glass-sided curved corridor. The walls were made of polished concrete and smooth plaster, while the ceiling was made of compacted earth, which had been dug up from inside the hill. Both rustic and luxurious, we found that the concept grew on us and that it only added to the exclusive charm of the stay. The combined concept of sustainability, nature and respecting the surroundings fuses together well here.
The gleaming blue oasis of the central pool pulled us in and just begged to be swam in. The Hotel Sants Metges’ pool is a delight and with most guests out for the day, we had it all to ourselves. From this decent-sized pool we admired how the redesign of this military fortress had used natural elements to make it seamlessly merge into its surrounds.
A door to the side of the pool took us down stairs into the underground warren of the fortress and the calm, serene spa. It holds a steam room with window slits (referencing ancient archers), a tropical rain shower, plus a sauna. After we’d soaked out muscles we headed up to the top of the fortress for a dip in the outdoor hot tub, matched by an awe-inspiring view.
Fully refreshed after our swim and spa, we felt ready to be dazzled at the Museu D’Or gem museum. In keeping with the concept of earth and nature, the gem museum sits just below the Hotel Sant Metges and offers more than just precious stones. There was everything from interactive displays to sculpture and pieces of the old fortress left behind. As we walked through the arched tunnels left over by the fortress, we came across fascinating metal sculptures, studded with huge gemstones. They reminded us of Salvador Dalí’s jewels, but these ones were created by Amador Braojos.
On the second floor we found the work of Josep Maria Subirachs, responsible for designing the newer sculptures on Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Família church.
Just 15 rooms are available in this luxurious hotel, meaning it’s relaxed and peaceful. We were wowed by our opulent room, which had the same rustic ceiling made of pressed earth and natural-coloured walls. It also offered a cute balcony with an impressive view. It had everything you’d expect from a five-star property, from plush bathrobes and slippers to a huge glass-sided bathroom and the latest espresso machine.
The Atempo restaurant is one of the cornerstones of the Hotel Sants Metges concept. The innovative tasting menu is an epic four hour experience, with almost magical dishes created by celebrity chef Jordi Cruz. Our fantastical experience began in the hotel lobby where our friendly waiter produced a nitrogen formed mojito egg, which we were told to eat with our hands. It cracked open easily and simply melted in the mouth.
And the surprises kept coming. Alongside gemstones at the table, innovative show cooking saw us sample numerous dishes, each with their own quirk and paired with its ideal wine.
We devoured the whipped hazelnut butter with caviar, shitake mushroom inside an oyster shell and a two-part bloody mary, served with tomato-flavoured nitrogen ice cream, which was made right in front of us. I watched as regionally-sourced Palamós prawns were infused with orange saffron and plankton, while Esme dined on a coconut soup decorated with baby cauliflower. And so it went on with plate after plate of perfectly presented and gastronomically-designed dishes – each with conscientiously modified vegetarian alternatives for Esme. It ended with a ‘cushion’, topped with Earl Grey tea ice cream and crumbly caramel biscuits and another egg – this time a lavender and blueberry one.
Having been indulged, thoroughly entertained, and just a little tipsy from all the perfectly-paired wines, we stepped out into the night air. From here, we admired the lights of Girona city in the distance and the stars up above, before contently putting our heads down for the night.
Our Verdict of the Hotel Sants Metges
If you’re looking for somewhere away from the tourist sights and the bustle of Girona, whilst sleeping in a piece of history, the Sants Metges is for you. It gives you the feeling of part of nature and just ‘getting away from it all’. With only a handful of rooms, 360°-views and a menu designer by a Michelin-Starred chef, it makes for the perfect retreat. If you’re staying more than a couple of nights you’ll need a car to explore the surrounding area, but Girona city is only short drive away.