Hostal Empúries in Costa Brava near Girona, Spain

, August 25, 2011

Found on the northern edge of Spain’s Costa Brava in the heart of Dalí country, Hostal Spa Empúries has recently furnished its way to the top end of eco-chic tourism, becoming one of the leading exhibitions of sustainable architecture in Europe. I visited the hotel earlier this summer during a cycling trip in Catalonia, primarily based on the recommendation that the hotel was bike-friendly. It’s way more than that. It’s a haven, merging heritage with expressive efforts in sustainable living and wellness.

Environmental and Social Responsibility

As Europe’s first hotel to receive a gold LEED certificate, Hostal Spa Empúries has a reputation to live up to, especially during its new developments in the direction of the spa. Overall, the hotel produces 30% of the energy it consumes, taking 100% of the remainder from renewable sources. Many of the herbs and greens available at the restaurant are grown in the vegetable patches around the hotel, reemphasising a commitment to reduce the enterprise’s carbon output. Meanwhile in sourcing materials for construction, architects followed the ‘Cradle to Cradle’ principle, ensuring that materials were selected on the basis that they could be used again beyond the hotel, and eventually be retuned back to a new form of base material.

On the social side, Hostal Spa Empúries have teamed up with the Laafi Association to build a comprehensive public centre for 200 children in Burkino Faso. To fund this, the hotel promises to match every €1 donated by a guest in the 1=2 campaign. The hotel further encourages employees to give 0.5% of their salary towards the project. For more information download the newsletter.


Hostal Spa Empúries is divided between the old side, previously used to accommodate archeologists servicing the nearby Romain ruins, and the new, designer extension that links to a gym and spa complex. The rooms in the old part of the hotel are varied in size and offer views over the sea and onto the walled herb garden. The collection of suites in the new side of the hotel are more regimented, offering options for for couples and groups of three or four. It’s worth noting that the seaside rooms on old side of the hotel are more elevated than the bungolow-styled annex so offer better views of the sea, with a more traditionally Spanish and homely feel.


The Portitlox is the hotel’s onsite restaurant and provides guests and visitors with healthy mediterranean meals next door to the less formal Bistro del Mar. When combined, the bistro and restaurant offer enough options for a short stay, especially if you’re looking to maximise on recovery and enjoy a car-free few days.


Just several metres from the sea and Portitlox Beach, the hotel is an obvious place to base yourself for some open water swimming. There are a pair of short indoor lanes at the spa, but the real excitement shall be in the blue beyond your door.

For cyclists the hotel can organise guided half-day trips into the L’Emporda region and provide kit rental. If you want to head out independently, try to get over to Girona and rent a fast ride from Bike Breaks in Girona – they have road and mountain biking options.

Hiking follows a similar format to cycling in that you can take a guide out to the coves, coasts and castles of the area. Snorkelling and scuba can also be organised by the hotel, as well as yoga classes.

Full information at