CB 1100 Mas Grau - 8 bedrooms
Mas Grau has been our most popular villa now since we started this business back in 1998. It is absolutely top-notch in terms of price-quality-size-location. A huge fortified farmhouse originally dating from the 12thC, this place was best described by an 8-year-old friend of my daughter's who called it "a museum-house". If you like the idea of renting a comfortable old stone mansion with lots of character, a place you will never forget (and for all the right reasons) - book early! You won't regret it.
Mas Grau is one of the nicest independent vacation villas available in Catalonia (and I've been told by frequent renters of holiday villas that, all considered - especially pricewise - it is probably one of the nicest vacation houses in Europe). Set in on a wooded hillside in an area of farmlands only 8 km SE of Girona's provincial capital - a fascinating historical city - this venerable fortified farmhouse occupies it´s hillside position surrounded playing fields and fruit trees and woods, and offers marvelous views of the tiny medieval hamlet of Estanyol, 500 meters away, and the Mediterranean Sea in the distance.
One guest once called me to say that she thought there were only views like those found at Mas Grau in the most idyllic parts of Normandy!
Mas Grau was built in the 12th century and was the fortress of local chieftain: the Viscount of Cabrera, whose family coat of arms adorns the main entryway. It is one of the better examples of a fine Catalan masia, or farmhouse. The thick stone and wooden-beamed house is articulated around a walled-in and vine-covered patio with outdoor seating for BBQs, with an artesian well (covered for safety) and a utility room with washer/dryer and clothes lines and an extra refrigerator to handle overflow from the kitchen´s fridge if you make a big shopping.
The main entryway opens on to the large central receiving room from which all the downstairs rooms are articulated. To the right, the two-tiered dining room, with two tables seating 14 or so guests. Beyond and also accessible from the main living room is the kitchen, not very large, quite old fashioned, but well appointed with a refrigerator, gas stove, electric oven, extractor, toaster, juicer, mixer, several coffee makers, and even an antique wood-burning bread oven that looks like it could still be used.
Staying with the downstairs part of the house: at the far end of the entry hall is the large living room with an impressive barrel-vaulted stone ceiling and divided into two parts: to the right, the fireplace area with wooden benches and cushions, and to the left, the main sitting area, with 2 sofas and 2 lounge chairs and what I have heard referred to as the entertainment system, in this case consisting of a radio/cassette/CD player, and a TV & DVD player.
The two parts of the living room are separated by a piano (undoubtedly out of tune since Geraldine Chaplin had it tuned some years ago). The Spa is immediately to the left upon entering the large main hallway. It consists of a Jacuzzi seating up to 4 or 5 adults, a couple stationary bicycles and other work out equipment, and a bathroom with shower. The owner has put an electric counter on the Jacuzzi so that electricity for the Jacuzzi will be paid for apart, thereby avoiding situations where guests leave the thing on 24/7 as they don´t have to pay for it...
Now, here is a detailed description of the layout of the house with respect to bedrooms & bed sizes & bathrooms. In the description below I will number the rooms from 1 to 8:
On the ground floor:
Bedroom 1) downstairs and just down a hallway from the dining room is a bedroom with a double bed (150x190cm) and bathroom with shower at the end of the hall, 3 meters away. This bathroom could be for the occupants of that room only as there is now the other downstairs bathroom in the spa room.
Bedroom 2) is just to the right of the main entrance on the way to the spa area and consists of 3 single beds under an impressive barrel-vaulted stone ceiling, and this room has a 42" flat sceen TV and a bathroom across the hall with shower
Upstaires and working our way around the 1st floor atrium and sitting area:
bedroom 3) one room has two single beds (90x190cm) and a private bathroom with sunken bathtub.
Half way around the atrium a hallways leads off towards the front of the house and the largest bedroom in the house:
bedroom 4) has a 190x150cm double bed in a huge 35m2 room under high wooden ceiling beams and a private balcony under lovely twisted wooden beams and great views from the front of the house. On the hallway to this bedroom is a large green-tiled bathroom that has two sinks, a separate water closet and bidet separated by a wall with another room with a full bathtub.
bedroom 5) is across the atrium central sitting room from the hallway to bedroom 4, and this room has another 190x150cm double bed, and some nice antique furnishings and a TV.
bedroom 6) out across the terrace above the central patio, which you can clearly see in the photos, there is a another very large bedroom (40m2) with two smaller double beds, the old continental size of 135x190cm, and a 90x190cm single bed, and a full en suite bathroom with bathtub
bedroom 7) going around the atrium the next room is the one with the vaulted-stone ceiling, with 3 single beds (90x190cm) very similar to bedroom 2 downstairs, and with a door leading out to the patio shared with bedroom 6, and...
bedroom 8) from bedroom 7 there's an old wooden staircase leading up to the attic bedroom, which has 2 single beds (90x190cm) - and there is a private baa 7th room I could only envision children wanting to sleep up there as a sort of slumber party room far away from the parents.
In the owners website they are claiming to have 2 more bedrooms for a total of 10, What they have done is to put in a single bed in the anteroom with lots of closet space for large bedroom 4, making it a sort-of double family room. Downstairs there is another anteroom leading to bedroom 2 and that bathroom there, and the owners have put in a double sofabed there. The idea is clearly to be able to fit more guests in, but I think this practice compromised the overall comfort of the house, especially for those who are renting a full week or two. For weekend bookings in the off-season it isn't unusual to find over 20 guests staying at Mas Grau.. We try to keep the number of guests at about 16 or so, but with more guests you'll be fine.
Outdoors there is covered shed with room for two cars. The property is immense, and includes woods as well as plowed fields, and the area is crisscrossed with all sorts of well-marked hiking trails and maps of these are available at local tourism offices. The wooded areas of pine and Holm oak yield all sorts of fresh mushrooms, especially in Autumn. By the way the owners sell the cork from the oaks to some of the major cava wine producers in Catalonia.
All told, this is a magnificent house. This house and the use of my 94-page Insider´s Guide to the Costa Brava makes for a great holiday. Please take a moment to read some of the Comments from Past Visitors in the link above. People have been sending in rave reviews on Mas Grau since 1998! Oh, and I almost forgot. There is a nice terraced restaurant/café a short walk away with 2 cement tennis courts free to use for the guest of Mas Grau. Remind me to send you the link to this place. The caretaker at Mas Grau is the son of the owners of this restaurant, and many guests use this restaurant as a home away from home meeting point as it is an attractive, fun, and affordable place, including a playground for kids, ping pong, table football, and other games in the kiddy-section. The midday menu is delicious home-cooking & only 10 Euros for a 3 course meal including wine!