Where to start? Nothing could have prepared us for the precipitous climb to the castle or for the vertiginous drops to the valleys below that rewarded us upon arrival. Tear yourself from the view, however, and turn to face the (man-made) beauty of l'Avenc itself.
Comprised of the original castle (technically a fortified house) and its outhouses (now meticulously renovated self-catering holiday cottages), the site occupies a verdant terrace atop a sun drenched mountain. These have been joined by a wing of modern hotel rooms built sympathetically both to l'Avenc's aesthetic and local ecology. That's not to mention the pool, a heated oasis in a church-like outhouse with its own stunning views, naturally.
L'Avenc itself is located in the arrestingly beautiful mountains of Catalonia, between the villages of Rupit and Tavertet, about 30km from the atmospheric town of Vic and a couple of hours drive from Barcelona. All this makes l'Avenc sound rather remote, which I suppose it is, but few places have felt more homely. Indeed, that's exactly what this places is - a real, thriving home, where the family work hard to ensure the enterprise is run in harmony with the environment (and the locals).
You're made to feel a guest of the family, but never that you're imposing. It is their business to make your stay as comfortable as possible - whether that's by offering advice on the best local sights, restaurants or walks, or by leaving you to your own devices. You could happily spend a week doing everything the area has to offer (of which there's plenty) or, if you wish, go your entire time without seeing another soul apart from the occasional eagle.
L'Avenc made me brake my golden rule of not going to the same place twice: I've stayed in the holiday cottages on several occasions, both with just my partner and also with our extended family (including a toddler). Each time we were accommodated without fault.
My only regret? That, by reviewing it on here, it'll no longer be my secret getaway. Still, it's a secret that just has to be shared.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- L’Avenc is a family home with self-catering cottages, studios and rooms with wonderful views. We are also a conference centre and can cater for family celebrations. Awarded recently first prize in Responsable toursim, we started by restoring the 13th-16th century masia in 1997, where we live, to its former glory, have introduced renewable energy in the form of solar panels and a wind generator, and are currently running the cattle farm and co-managing the area of outstanding natural beauty with the trust: Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera. We have just finished our new wing (May 2013) and can now offer simple rural comfort and delicious breakfasts. We are open all year round and are commited to keeping the countryside beautiful and visitable, keeping small villages alive, employing local residents and to enhancing and supporting animal welfare. ... more less