This inviting one-bedroomed cottage is one of those places where you feel immediately at home.
As for the location, the abiding impression is of natural balance in a completely gorgeous setting.
Montseny is, without doubt, one of the most special areas in north-east Spain. It's where hiking is said to have first started in the country, in a mountain range where fragrant pine forests combine with tremendously healthy Mediterranean tree and plant life, and a climate whose mildness reminds you that the sea is only half an hour away.
Blessed with profuse woodlands, it is also rich in aquifers – local Arbuciés is a thriving little town thanks in part to bottling the pure mountain spring water – and the clear, little river running through this property adds special charm to what is a unique scene.
The accommodation is fresh, clean, well-presented, tastefully rustic. Open plan in style, there is plenty of room for a comfortable stay.
Unlike some holiday villas we visit, which have been made sumptuous or packed full of electronic gadgetry to overcompensate for what they lack elsewhere, here everything looks and feels natural and appropriate in tastefully created accommodation. It is, of course, perfectly well equipped for a holiday stay or it wouldn't be a Rustical Travel property!
A cheerfully tiled little kitchen has all you need for cooking and there's a wood stove for colder months as well as central heating.
The owner's hobby is lampmaking and the ones you see in the photo over the dining table are fashioned from ostrich eggs: they give a soft, clear light.
A hallway leads to the bedroom, which has a large double bed and curtained window with a private and very pleasant view of the rear gardens. The bathroom is ample and complete..
Set some 200 metres away from the house, the pool area has been created as a fenced-off retreat. Even the stroll from house to pool is a charming experience. The swimming pool may be shared with up to four people at the other independent apartment, which has its own privacy: you may well come across each other, as well as your hosts at the farm, but the accommodation is arranged so that guests in either accommodation enjoy intimacy.
You also share use of a small library with valuable local information, books and maps (which can be purchased, as well as local wine and Ernest's lamps).
This place encapsulates what rural tourism was all about in Spain before less authentic imitations sprang up in competition. When Ernest and Lluisa were running this certified organic farm many years ago, they started to rent a couple of rooms in the farmhouse to boost the family economy, which was then based entirely on sheep farming. They discovered a rare talent for making people feel welcome and their bed-and-breakfast weekends soon become so popular that they decided to build instead two pretty apartments instead: this and a two-bedroomed apartment CA12(2). They subsequently reduced the sheep rearing to a minimum in order to dedicate time and care to rural tourism and their guests.
Nowadays, they strike a happy balance, which includes making available to guests well-priced priced lamb and other products from the land, aware that wholesome fare on the table is part of any genuine rural experience of Catalonia. The farm is completely chemical-free and the locality is well known for its abundance of wonderful mineral water sources. Waste is carefully handled so that the water sources remain pure and uncontaminated.
This cottage is set apart from the other apartment in its own quiet, private space, and facing away, so you feel very private.
You can sit outside in in the shade of a porch terrace or cherry tree, or in the sun, looking out on the very pretty, relaxing natural scene. You have a small brick-built barbecue and two sunbeds, plus a hedged-off corner just for you.
There aren't many places we'd describe as idyllic, but this has to be one of them. The pictures here really tell the story. It's such a lovely place to be, crossing the bridge over the energetic little river to explore the woodlands and fields.
Returning holidaymakers cite a sense of feeling at home as a main reason for coming back here: small families or couples, they all report having had special holidays here. Over the years, the accommodation and the owners have built up a deservedly good reputation, which has a good deal to do with a desire to make people from different countries feel looked after here.
Theirs is a small up-and-running organic farm with fruit trees, market gardens and sheep, and yet it enjoys an enviable tranquility as a result of being secluded from other properties and roads, being accessed by a 1.2 km track (in good condition). The equilibrium between farming activity and rural tourism is intelligently thought out. Sheep have their own grazing, while elsewhere is richly planted with flowers, shrubs, climbing plants and all manner of fruit trees, all nicely spaced and spread out around the land.
There's so much to do in the area that it would fill a book to describe all the options, but here's a foretaste.
Walking and rambling: these have almost endless attractive possibilities. The outstanding beauty of the heights in Montseny Natural Park make it an absolute must for anyone not addicted to lounging with a book all week. It has superb trails, forests and mountain views. You can make out one of the Montseny peaks in the photos.
Horse riding is also available at very good stables.
Among castles in the region is one in the local vicinity which is being restored and can be visited despite being a work-in-progress.
If you fancy a game of pitch-and-putt golf one day, as clients of Rustical Travel you can play for free at a green course at Arbucies, just minutes away from your accommodation.
In winter months, you can go truffle-hunting in the Garrotxa woodlands
Sea, sun and healing waters? No problem. Costa Brava and its excellent beaches are 35 km away, and the spa of Santa Coloma de Farners just 20 km.
For people-watching we thoroughly recommend traditional street markets such as the lively one held every Saturday in Vic.
Food and drink? Local Arbucies has five restaurants: three are classic Spanish affairs and two are signature restaurants. Dining out here is a real treat: Girona has nothing to envy the rest of Spain when it comes to gastronomy.
Girona town is just half an hour away.