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Mas Grau: Amazing fortified 12thC stone Masia

CB 1100 Mas Grau - 9 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 entrance hall with atrium aboveMas 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!

Location:. Set in on a wooded hillside terrace 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, 200 meters away, and the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. One French 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 dining roomsThe house: 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 main fridge. Very thick stone walls means there is no need for air conditioning.As long as you keep the heavy wooden shutters closed during the sunniest part of the day, rooms still cool even during the hottest summer days….

The layout: The large wooden-planked door from the walled patio main opens onto the large central receiving room and atrium.It is from this 10 meter-high atrium that the entire house is articulated. To the right, the two-tiered dining room, with tables seating 24 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. From the kitchen there is a door out to the side terraces for al fresco meals day and night.I imagine most meals would be had out here…

Staying with the downstairs part of the house: just beyond the atrium is the large living room divided into two parts: to the left and with an impressively high barrel-vaulted stone ceiling housing the pool table & game room.To the right and with a normal high wooden-beamed ceiling is the fireplace and the main sitting area, with 2 sofas and 2 lounge chairs and the entertainment system, in this case consisting of a radio/cassette/CD player, and one of the 7 Satellite TVs in the house & a DVD player.

To the immediate left of the main entryway is the way to the Spa area, which occupies an large old granary with spectacular views of the coastal plain heading out towards the sea.The Spa area consists of a large Jacuzzi seating about 6, a Sauna and a Turkish steam bath, along with a full bathroom.The use of the Spa is unlimited and included in the price of the rental.

Mas Grau salon with pool table and fireplace and satellite TVNow, here’s a description of the bedrooms and bathrooms:

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 1) 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 on the way to the Spa.

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 screen TV and a bathroom 2) through the anteroom coming in from the main house entrance with shower.

Bedroom 2a) is the anteroom distributing traffic to the Bedroom 2 where the owners have put in a double sofa bed (150x190cm) in front of the nice fireplace. The bathroom 2) is in this room...

Upstairs and working our way around the 1st floor atrium and sitting area:

bedroom 3) has a double bed (150x190cm) and a private en suite yellow-tiled bathroom 3) with sunken bathtub & shower nozzle..

Half way around the atrium a hallways leads off towards the front of the house and the largest bedroom in the house, bedroom 4).

Mas Grau bedroom 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 & pool area. On the hallway to this bedroom is a large green-tiled bathroom 4) that has two sinks, a separate water closet and bidet behind a door, so you can use the toilet while someone else is at the sink.

bedroom 4a) is another anteroom just outside bedroom 4), which is lined with closet.On the other side of the closet the owners have put in a single bed, probably best for a child or a guest visiting for a night or two... just outside the door to bedroom 4).

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 another 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 blue-tiled bathroom 5) with bathtub& shower nozzle

Mas Grau spa with viewbedroom 7) can be entered either from the terrace or from the upstairs living room, and has a high barrel vaulted-stone ceiling, with 3 single beds (90x190cm) very similar to bedroom 2 downstairs. Bathroom 6) with bathtub and shower nozzle is just outside on the terrace, and a woodern staircase leads up to .....

bedroom 8) from bedroom 7 there's an old wooden staircase leading up to the large attic room under a tiled and wooden beamed roof.This room has 2 single beds (90x190cm). and a fold-out sofa bed. I could only envision children wanting to sleep up here as a sort of slumber party room far away from the parents as there is no bathroom on this level.

In the owners website they are claiming to have a total of 10 bedrooms, but I would prefer to describe the layout more honestly as 8 bedrooms plus 2. I can understand the owners wanting to take advantage of the huge amount of space they have – over 900m2!That’s nearly 10,000 square feet!The bed count above is 22 guests, putting only 1 person in each smallish double bed in bedroom 6).

The outdoors:There are a lot of different sitting areas outdoors at Mas Grau. The 10x6 meter fenced pool has plenty of lounge chairs and parasols and trees for shade.Just above the pool area is the ancient threshing area and a covered barn separated into two distinct playing areas, one housing the table football or fussball table, and the other has the ping pong table.

On the side of the house, around to the right of the front patio and just out from the kitchen door, are two levels of terraces with seating for outdoor meals.This is very convenient.

The property is immense, and includes woods as well as playing 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.

Mas Grau, the 1st floor atrium central sitting roomAll 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!