Traditional villages, Roman ruins, cava wineries – there’s a lot to see and do in and around this ancient city. Here is an expert round-up of the top places to stay when you’re visiting this coastal city in northeast Spain.
One of the most sophisticated cities in Roman Spain, Tarragona, along the coast heading south from Barcelona, still displays a trove of age-old ruins and monuments from the era. This impressive legacy is the main draw for most visitors, though a long sandy beach also pulls in the summer crowds. Head out of town, and you’ll find Tarragona province brimming with natural beauty, and wineries where you can often drop in for a tasting of the local fizz.
Surrounded by a neat patchwork of vineyards from which it makes its own wines, La Boella, in La Selva del Camp, has a rustic setting that makes for an eye-pleasing scene. Guest rooms are divided between an attractive modern property and the estate’s original 12th-century country house. Stroll around the pretty gardens before a dip in the pool or a bite to eat on the summer terrace. Amenities include premium toiletries, Nespresso coffee machines and iPods preloaded with music.
Set deep in the Tarragon countryside in La Selva del Camp, this strikingly unconventional country estate comprises a stately piece of modernist architecture dating from 1922. They take their food very seriously here, and La Gigantea restaurant has earned a reputation for outstanding cuisine. Many of the rooms feature playful modernist flourishes, as well as bucolic views over the surrounding fields. It’s the perfect spot for relaxing and indulging, so why not book yourself a scrub massage: choose between wine and chocolate.
While there’s little that remains of the old mansion the Hotel Raval de la Mar now inhabits, its transformation into a thoroughly modern space has been pulled off impressively. You can choose between rooms or apartments, all finished in a smart contemporary styling, with some opening to small balconies. The location, in the medieval town centre of Vila-Seca, is a little off the beaten track. On-site parking is available, if you can brave driving through the nerve-janglingly narrow streets.
Overlooking a roundabout on the edge of Tarragona, the Hotel SB Express offers functional lodgings with speedy road access in and out of the city. Its location at the top of the tree-lined La Rambla promenade means it’s a straight road into the centre of town past numerous eateries. If you’d prefer to dine at the hotel, the restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ask for a top-floor room facing La Rambla – the views are spectacular at night.
This sleek, city-centre hotel certainly feels more geared towards the business traveller than your average tourist. That said, it’s within an easy stroll of many of the city’s main attractions as well as being just steps from La Rambla. Smart contemporary guest rooms overlook either the street or a pleasant park to the rear. A café serving breakfast and light meals is open all day, though there’s no shortage of excellent dining options nearby.
What the Hotel Pigal may lack in stars, it more than makes up for in service – nothing is too much trouble for the owner, Xavi. It’s set in a typical townhouse in the centre of Tarragona, five minutes from the must-visit market, with Roman ruins just around the corner. Simple rooms are livened up with vintage pieces, and there’s a choice of pillows to aid slumber. A self-service breakfast room completes a basic but perfectly pleasant offering.
With just five rooms spread over two floors, this hostal (cheap hotel) certainly qualifies as “boutique”. The centuries-old building it inhabits has been updated with a fresh and funky feel that appeals to its mostly younger clientele. Stone and wood also combine stylishly throughout and add to its warm and intimate atmosphere. Guests can help themselves to free coffee and muffins, before setting off to take in Tarragona’s many attractions, most of which are easily walkable.
Modern, unfussy and in a residential neighbourhood in the city, the Astari is a solid option for those not looking for too many unnecessary frills. Rooms are smart and straightforward – some with sea views – plus there’s a nice pool area and peaceful garden where you can unwind with a book or a drink. It’s also close enough to be walkable to both of the city’s sandy beaches, as well as a five-minute stroll to Tarragona’s most impressive ruins, the Roman amphitheatre.
Nuria Hotel has really upped its game with a stylish makeover more than a little inspired by Scandi-chic minimalism. The pool area feels particularly swish, with plenty of loungers and parasols if you want to spend the day reclined. If you’d rather a dip in the sea, Tarragona’s sandy Arrabassada Beach is also just a short walk away – the on-site deli is the perfect place to put together a picnic.