The infantile disorder of the decor


One of the most significant corollaries of the guest experience in a charming hotel is its aesthetic vector. A large segment of travelers usually put on a pedestal the kind of hospitality remarkable for the expressive substance of their accommodation rather than for the essence of their hosting. Or, what is the same, the hospitality is judged according to a canonical and stereotypical image of the underlying charm of hotels where the guests spend their pleasant nights. At the slightest questioning of their uncritical attitude, everyone, hoteliers, and guests alike defend their love of the theatrical by using the color chart for an orthodox design or even a literary essay about aesthetics. There is as large a diversity of tastes as there is of colors

I have just read a biography of French perfumer Serge Lutens, who warns that although a lot has been written about taste, very little has been read. The author of Féminité du Bois, and architect of Shiseido fragrances is currently selling no less than 27 exclusive perfumes customized in flacons with the initials of each buyer, at his headquarter of the Palais Royal in Paris. Of course, these bottles cannot be purchased anywhere. Each of them offers an evening atmosphere, a winged mystery, ignorant of olfactory pyramids and nasal recipes. Lutens is achieving right now the culmination of an entire life dedicated to the acquiring of knowledge about art through the senses. Continue reading

10 rooms with a sea view in Spain

There’s nothing like a summer holiday to refresh body and soul at the hottest time of the year. And if it’s by the sea, so much the better. Below, EL PAÍS has selected the best hotels in Spain with sea views – from north to south, taking in the Balearic and Canary Islands – with rooms where the surf practically laps at the foot of your bed.

1. Mediterranean light

Terrace at Hotel El Far, in Girona.

Some 175 meters above the sea, on the Costa Brava, the Romaboira lighthouse in Girona province retains a former hermitage that today offers nine rooms, a stone chapel, and a restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. Room number 3, with a balcony hanging over the cliffs and a terrace with views of the lighthouse, offers the best views of the gentle summer swell.

El Far de Sant Sebastiá (Playa de Llafranc, s/n, Girona; +34 972 30 16 39). Double room from €150. Continue reading

Dodecalogue of hotel restaurants


A survey has confirmed some ideas about the food service that hotels should offer their customers in order to retain them longer. They must make a commitment to entice palates but with the minimum number of resources. Unlike restaurants, whose chefs manage them on their own, hotels are required not only to lure guests to the table, but also to meet their food needs. Here are 12 suggestions deducted after analyzing this survey. Continue reading

One Is Half Of Two

pink floyd

Facebook is the new ecosystem of news. It is understood that some media directors proclaim that they wouldn’t hire refractory journalists to use Facebook.

According to Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty, the action of observing changes the observed system. The effect doesn’t necessarily follow a cause. Therefore, we can’t determine reality if we want to interpret it. We can only come close to it through statistics, that is, the average of the interpretive results. Blogs, just like particle physics, have been the natural ecosystem of information. And lately, blogs are embedded within social networks as evidenced by LinkedIn with its new space called Pulse. The determination of reality through analyzing statistics is more precise than actual observing. Continue reading

Cheap and expensive hotels in Spain

An amazing expensive hotel

Les Cols

Les Cols Pavellons (Olot, Girona). Double room: €340

It is categorized as a boarding house, but Les Cols Pavellons (Avenida de les Cols, s/n; +34 699 81 38 17), in Olot, Girona (a province in the northeastern region of Catalonia), is an establishment that boasts among the highest average prices in Spain. And this year, it received the top international distinction for its design: the Pritzker, which is considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture. The award was accepted by RCR Arquitectes, which comprises the talents of architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta.

When Judit Planella started the project, she never imagined that it would reach such heights in these beautiful glass structures that now constitute not just her home, but the home of hundreds of travelers arriving from all parts of the world. But still, it was clear in her mind that hospitality is not limited to the physical necessities of lodging, but to a psychological experience of the senses. She pursued a unique objective, an approach to the concept of “the nowhere place.” And she obtained from the now award-winning architects an ethereal fantasy of beauty between glass. Judit describes it with these poetic words: “To be alone before the night and the emptiness, a refugee between walls, where opacity and the reflections of glass blend in a dialogue of lights and water, so that you regain a sense of nature that we believed to have been forgotten.”


One of the peculiarities of this accommodation is its paradoxical placement: inside the industrial complex of Olot – because it is considerably easier to build a luxury hotel against magnificent scenery like the Volcanic Zone of La Garrotxa, for example. But to do it between factories, as Judit and her collaborators have done, requires tremendous talent.


They do not exist. Les Cols is a nowhere place. Over the surface of transparent glass float emerald-colored mattresses that can be transformed into sofas, carpets, or beds. They appear and disappear. They are opened and closed. The guest decides. And at night, they can be folded back up so that you can lie back and gaze at the moon.


Nor is there a breakfast room in this nowhere place. The guests are not directed to the first meal of the day, but rather, the meal comes to them. The hostess serves them in the glass rooms at the agreed hour. Local products are made especially for the hotel, treating guests to aromas and flavors in a concert of the senses with a soul of glass.


And a charming, affordable hotel

Venta de Ulzama

Venta de Ulzama (Ulzama, Navarre). Double room: €70

Many readers will remember that winding road across the Belate mountain pass, between the cities of Pamplona and San Sebastian, which used to be packed with trucks. The trip took so long that no one could avoid a stop at the Venta de Ulzama.

On such a journey, the asphalt would give way to the lush, green landscape of Navarre, where awaiting the traveler was the hospitality of the Díez de Ulzurrun family, which is now represented by its fourth generation, Felisa Goñi and her daughter-in-law Inma Berberena.

The highway tunnel now avoids the ascent through the mountain, and with it, the inn has been left isolated in a forest of beech trees. But homeliness, attention to detail and good food still captivate the traveler in search of solitude. The hostesses ensure it with elegant discretion. Remnants of the old inn permeate the air as one walks up the stairs. A first floor, then another. Room 206 is perhaps the most charming, with its wooden headboards, exposed beams, and small windows. If the weather permits, there is nothing like engrossing yourself on the porch with some Patxaran liquor. As soon as it gets quiet, a herd of 20 deer owned by the inn will leave the thicket to seek amusement in the field.


To spend the night in the middle of snowfall like that which regularly falls on this mountainous area in Navarre is an unforgettable experience. And in the summer, the facade exhibits balconies lined with geraniums.


The continued refurbishments have left the inn in a current condition that cannot be criticized. Especially satisfactory is the double bed of Room 103, from which one can admire the forest of trees that enshrine this rustic home.


In the basement of the inn, one can find an authentic factory of milk curds. This cuajada, a typical dish on many Basque tables, is the star of the menu here and will be served at dessert and breakfast. Made with the same hot stones that were used more than a century ago, the artisanal curd is famed for being the best in Navarre. Especially if Mrs. Goñi is putting the pot on your table.

The EL PAÍS travel critic reviews two unique and very different experiences at both ends of the price scale