During our fast paced, three day extreme eating trip through Costa Brava, much of the days and nights were in a blur. This was not only because we were fed amazing meals each day, often with lunch lasting three or more hours, but because we had so much crammed into such a short amount of time. That meant that the three hotels we stayed at, during three consecutive nights, were also a bit of a blur. Lovely rooms and views we were able to experience briefly before breakfast and departure in the morning. The hospitality of Hotel Aigua Blava, outside of Begur, though, stood out among the rest. It’s one of the best beach hotels in the Costa Brava.
Perhaps this was because we were treated to a multi-course gastronomic feast prepared by Chef Lluis, a renowned chef in Costa Brava. Perhaps it was because we were greeted at dusk with a tray of bubbly cava as we toured some of the property. Perhaps it was because we actually arrived before dark, and less tired than when we arrived at the other two properties.
Regardless of the reason, the marketing manager, Esther, clearly wanted to show us the best of the property. And, to share the best of Hotel Aigua Blava with our readers of course.
Check out more tips in our Ultimate Spain Food Guide – How To Travel in Spain
Hotel Aigua Blava – Costa Brava Hospitality
And, in the brief 14 hours we stayed at Hotel Aigua Blava, we were impressed. Every member of our group had an amazing view over the cliffs of Begur. We were thoroughly impressed with the buffet breakfast spread, which included cava, for breakfast! Maybe it was that we were tired and a little less than enthusiastic about our long third day of touring Costa Brava, but we all wanted to stay. Perhaps a little too much.
We joked with Esther about wanting to poke a hole in the bus tire so that we could spend the morning under the sun, pool side. One member of our blogger group suggested that if he got lost on the property, don’t worry about him, let the bus leave without him. Regardless of the enjoyable day we ultimately had continuing our tour of the region, none of us wanted to leave Hotel Aigua Blava. We told Esther this was the case. So, she invited us to return.
Less than a week later.
Returning to Hotel Aigua Blava
This time, rather than perched upstairs with a view over the water, we were beach front. Literally.Hotel Aigua Blava is the combination of two historical hotel properties. The first was an older hostal, which sat just on the tiny cove, in the shadows of a large, private house. The private house belonged to some wealthy family from Barcelona. Ultimately, the nephew of the wealthy family fell in love with the daughter of the family who owned the hostal, and the rest, as they say, is history. The combined Hotel Aigua Blava is currently operated by the fourth and fifth generation hotelliers.
During our second stay, we were in a more traditional room, within the old, historic Spanish hostal, and we were, indeed, beach front. A small patio led to a cement path, sand, water, and the cove. Because it was still low, or at least shoulder season, the property remained a little quiet. I felt almost like we had the place to ourselves. That we were living in an old fishermen’s village, with row boats and dinghies lining the beach. I felt like I had stepped back in time.
Dining at Hotel Aigua Blava
As much as Hotel Aigua Blava is steeped in history and tradition, the kitchen is anything but traditional. In addition to our multi-course gastronomic feast during our extreme eating blogger trip, we also experienced the hotel restaurant’s modern cuisine in a more unique way.
Esther’s hospitality extended to offering us a small bite to eat during our stay. We were stuffed from a luxury meal at Casamar the night before, and Eric and I adamantly refused to eat another meal on the traditional Spanish dining schedule. We just wanted a little something to eat, and we wanted to eat it a little earlier than when people normally eat in Catalunya.
Although the restaurant does not serve dinner until 8pm, their bar menu, which offers some tapas, is available before that. That was a perfect option for us, a few Spanish tapas, while still bright outside, and a good night sleep.
Esther, and the hotel’s Chef Lluis, had something else in mind – a pica pica. Pica pica is essentially a meal of small plates, just something to pick on. But Chef Lluis’s interpretation of pica pica was like none other that we experienced eating in Catalunya. Each dish was more elaborate than the last, all a perfect mix of traditional cuisine served in a completely modern interpretation.
Along with our glass of sparkling cava, we were served a modern interpretation of traditional Spanish cured meats. Little sausages hung delicately from a metal bar, suspended over traditional pan con tomate.
Chef Lluis served a selection of jamon, along with pickled mussels skewered with watermelon, all placed on a granite slab. Most unique, a metal sterno in the center actually contained local olive oil, heated with a candle wick, and sprinkled with popping candy. We were able to dip the crispy breads into the warmed olive oil.
The most classic of the dishes included two giant Palamos prawns, bright red and perfectly cooked and sprinkled with crystallized maldon salt. I loved the ingredient purity of this classic dish.
At this point, the pica pica selection was just beginning to fill us up. Having already experienced Chef Lluis multi-course menu, which left me stuffed to the brim, I was unsure how many more courses would arrive.
Our server must have sensed this as he placed the final selection of pica pica in front of us. Small cones of fried calamari, and skewers of Japanese-inspired fried bits. We enjoyed our favorite Spanish tapa too, pimientos del padron, the sometimes spicy green peppers, also glistening with more maldon salt.
Our server told us the prawns, peppers, and fried seafood items were the final plates of our pica pica, not including dessert, of course.
The selection of petit fours included a series of fun treats, each one more creative than the last. Sweet macaroons, chocolate pops, and strawberry cream balls, were all artistically displayed.
The desserts were so pretty I didn’t even want to eat them. I felt bad with each spoonful, which destroyed the artwork of Chef Lluis. Well, I felt bad until I placed the spoonfuls of goodness into my mouth.
In addition to tasting sweet and fresh, the pica pica desserts offered us a little opportunity to play with our food too. Just the kind of romance that one expects during a luxury hotel stay in Costa Brava. And, all of this, while dining al fresco, with a view over the sea.
We were thankful for the early time of our dinner, the size of our meal, and most importantly how wonderfully hospitable Esther, Chef Lluis, and the staff of Hotel Aigua Blava were. Once again, Costa Brava hospitality.
Hotel Aigua Blava
Hotel Aigua Blava is located outside of Begur, on the Costa Brava, on Platja de Fornells, 50 kilometers from Girona. Gourmet weekends at Hotel Aigua Blava, including a gourmet seasonal meal and wine starts at 355 Euros. Seasonal dinner menus start at 55 Euros.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.