Never before have I felt so instantly welcome at a hotel. The owner of the Hotel EETU, a man so charming that it’s a crime I never got his name, was a burst of friendly warmth and a catching passion for his trade, while the entire hotel – sleepily waking up to the not-quite-begun season at the start of May – was a cool and airy space of tranquillity. After a busy week of conferences and jam-packed press trips, it was sheer bliss.
Nestled into the foothills of the forested Montañas de Begur, Fornells is a quiet and picturesque one-time fishing village cupped between rocky coves and the fierce orange cliffs which give the Rugged Coast it’s evocative name. A small town close to the simply beautiful town of Begur, this is a relatively exclusive area of expensive second homes and a classy atmosphere at odds with most people’s perceptions of Costa Brava. Fornells is tiny, colourful, and peaceful; there are just two hotels in the village, and no shops or bars. During the day, the town is almost silent, but nearby Begur (a five minute drive uphill) boasts incredible restaurants and a very pretty historic town, while the beach of Aiguablava – about twenty minute’s walk along a pretty coastal path shaded by pine trees – has some choice seafood and tapas restaurants. Fornells itself is the ideal spot to unwind, relax, and simply do nothing – but the surrounding area is perfect for exploration, preferably by car, with national parks, historic towns, and, of course, the incredible beaches and coves that Costa Brava is famed for.
In spite of four floors and fifty rooms, Hotel EETU has a small hotel feel, something that comes largely from the overwhelming warmth of the staff, especially the owner – who greeted me by name and with kisses everytime I stopped at reception for a chat, and who was brimming with recommendations for exploring the local area. His passion for his hotel was immediately apparent, particularly as he showed me to my room, lamenting the fact that so many hotels in Costa Brava are, as he put it, stuck in the seventies. With so many hotel owners and chains happy to keep milking profits from once-great hotels, without putting in a single penny towards upkeep or refurbishment, a great hotel experience in this north-eastern corner of Spain can be hard to come by. But at the Hotel EETU, the owner was incredibly proud of the fact that he had totally refurbished the entire building, an icon designed by Begur-born architect Eusebi Bona i Puig, redecorating the bedrooms and – most recently – the bathrooms, replacing outdated furniture, and redesigning a seventies relic into a stunningly modern, and also trendily retro, boutique hotel.
And all that money spent has paid off. My bedroom, a huge double room on the second floor with incredible sea views, was fantastic. Airy and light, with sunshine streaming through the enormous window, and funky green and purple trim livening up a simple black and white colour scheme. More importantly, it was seriously comfortable; with a high-quality king sized bed, and a modern, spacious bathroom complete with walk-in Italian shower and Rituals bath products. The emphasis was, above all, on quality and that was really apparent throughout my stay.
A quiet, classy atmosphere of total tranquillity prevailed throughout the hotel. Throughout the day, quiet piano music or slow jazz filled the reception area and the garden, floating up to my peaceful little balcony as I sat enjoying the beautiful sunsets. The sleek black and white décor was simple and classy, with a serene and leafy garden area in front of the hotel and a warm, cosy feeling of sheer calm which enhanced the perfect quiet of the surrounding area. Being an adults-only hotel, this air of peace is sure to prevail even when Hotel EETU is full during peak season; the intent here is to always be a quiet and tranquil space of relaxation and escapism.
My stay was, beyond a doubt, far too short, and as I tore myself reluctantly away from the Hotel EETU and the gorgeous coast I promised the owner – quite genuinely – that I’d be returning soon. It was a simply beautiful, relaxing, and warm hotel that was head and shoulders above so many of the others I’ve encountered along the Spanish costas. I will be back.