Opened in 2017, the Alabriga Hotel & Homes Suites is the brainchild of a Russian entrepreneur who set out to create a ‘boutique art hotel’. Teetering on the dramatic Costa Brava coastline that inspired Salvador Dali, with just 27 suites and a rotating exhibition of modern art, we’d say that vision was achieved.
Check out the leopard-skinned lady sprawled across the piano in the relaxation lounge and the interesting sculpture to the left of the reception desk – there’s a lot to catch your eye.
No expense has been spared on the design with loads of gold flourishes, statement ceiling lights and coloured glass sinks - even the floor tiles are worth £1,000 a pop and made from Alabriga marble. For a hotel that doesn’t do things by halves, it’s no surprise to learn that access to your room isn’t by key card but a finger scan that’s taken at check in – very 007.
Our three-bedroom Premium suite has a ridiculously large lounge with striking modern artwork, the largest flat-screen we have ever seen and a sleek kitchen area with everything cleverly hidden away (it took us 10 minutes to find a plug for the kettle). Our bed has a ridiculously comfy seven-layer mattress that would fool any princess. Everything is controlled through a computer on the wall, be it lights, blinds, air conditioning - it takes some figuring out. For simple pleasures, step out onto the gigantic balcony and enjoy a glass of wine while drinking in sea views before dinner.
What’s on offer
The large lobby has a central check-in desk, an open bar with high seating and a reading area under an impressive chandelier. Walk through the sliding glass doors to a spacious lounge with a piano, open fire place, modern artwork and plenty of armchairs for relaxing, working or socialising.
Beyond the bar is Terra, the Michelin-star restaurant which has an open kitchen, an entire wall of wine and an attractive outdoor seating area.
The impressive Welling Spa has four massage rooms, each distinctly designed and named Dream, Feel, Touch and Breath. There’s a large changing area with a hot sauna and a steam room big enough for 12. There’s also a manicure bar, a hair salon and an Eco Bar with a dramatic growing wall and gold seating. Step outside and admire the 15-metre heated pool (we loved the blue and purple fish themed feature wall behind it) and bubbling hot tub.
Fancy a swim on the beach? Head to the hotel’s fancy Sea Club with its 22-metre infinity pool overlooking the sea: float away on a giant coloured water-cushion. There’s a separate hot tub next door for those wishing to warm up. Hungry? Find a free cabana (cleverly designed to turn from tables and chairs to day beds with curtains), grab a menu and lunch with a view.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Rejuvenating massage (30 minutes, £44) followed by a Discovery Facial (30 minutes, £79).
My therapist, Marina, welcomed me at reception and led me to the Feel room. She left me to de-robe and get comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face down.
Marina began the massage at my feet, working warm oil into my heels before moving up to my tight calves. I was a bit surprised when she massaged my buttocks – Europeans are far less reserved than us – but no doubt they needed it after the flight. Marina noticed tension in my shoulders and moved my right arm to behind my back so that she could work out some of the knots.
For the facial, Marina cleansed and toned my skin using a re-generating cream, the began the massage, concentrating on my eye sockets and my dry forehead. Marina then painted on a tingly mask made of pineapple, green tea and oxygen; while this set, she treated me to a glorious scalp massage. Marina then used a wet cloth to remove the mask, sealing the goodness in with a light toner which she dabbed dry with a tissue. Marina then lead me to the Eco Bar, with ‘wellbeing’ spelt out in foliage on its live wall, and served me a green tea with seaweed and citrus (actually quite pleasant).
The Wellbeing Spa at the Alabriga Hotel & Home Suites offers a range of massages, including hot stone, sports, head and lymphatic drainage massages, plus a peeling wrap with chocolate and an unusual sounding Siberian Bust. For facials, guests can choose between eye contour, hydration and after-sun.
Food and drink
Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at Terra. Breakfast is a buffet with a menu of hot items - try the pancakes made with cottage cheese or the eggs Benedict. Our first lunch on the outdoor terrace was very pleasant: we tucked into cold tomato soup with seafood to start and muscles in a tomato broth served with salad covered in parmesan shavings for mains.
That evening we ate a five-course meal starting with a salad of chickpeas, humous, peppers, onions and yoghurt (a triumph). Tuna tartare with cauliflower puree and cauliflower shavings was next; to finish, we enjoyed a refreshing and light pineapple crumble. The best dishes of our entire stay were sticky ribs served with a pineapple salsa and a dessert made entirely of sweet potato (including sweet potato ice-cream).
We loved /didn’t love
The food: Everything we were served during our stay – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner – was imaginative and as pretty as a picture.
The fingerprint controls: No going back to reception because you’ve forgotten your room key – the controls are literally at your fingertips.
We didn’t love
The design: While it certainly dazzled, our minimalist taste buds were slightly overwhelmed.
Who do you think would like it?
Foodies: Lovers of Michelin-star food, fine wines and taster menus will be in their element.
Art aficionados: Priceless paintings, sculptures, unusual artefacts… it’s all here.
Glamour-pusses: Whether gliding across the marble in Manolo Blahniks, sitting at the bar drinking expensive cocktails or floating in the infinity pool, the Alabriga Hotel & Home Suites is a place to be to be seen.
A trip to Girona: This quaint little town is only a 30-minute drive away and a real Spanish gem.
One night in a Premium suite costs from £458 per person including airport transfers, a welcome drink, breakfast and the services of a butler.