For well over two centuries, the Spanish Las Heras family occupied a 13th Century farmhouse, set on 350 hectares of forest and farm land in the rural Catalonian countryside. When the current family owners took on the property in 2008, the ancient stone and timber were once more tenderly, renovated, restored and romanced back to life, revealing a labyrinth of chambers and alcoves, libraries and lounges, a theatre at the helm, a colossal dining and kitchen space, a tower, a spa, and a long dormitory that rests beneath a roof and exposes itself to the outside. There’s even a tiny chapel where mystic echoes of song can be heard from the thirteen singing monks that once gathered in prayer, many hundreds of years ago.
Situated just outside the ancient town of Girona, surrounded by forests and mountains, this outlandish hideaway captivates the cockles of our travelling hearts. With its deeply rooted history and pacifying spirit, Las Heras embodies the Spanish way of life from sunrise to siesta, and well into the night. Dutifully honouring the Catalonian climate and its changes, the thick stone walls warm and cool with the seasons, the Romanesque windows welcome and wane the light, the corners and crevices of each chamber simultaneously segregate and unify, allowing for an endless flow of celebratory family fun, vivacity and repose.
Las Heras carries its heritage beyond the stone walls, around the courtyard with its pond and fig tree, under the sunny terraces and into the gardens beneath the soaring oaks, the pines, beside the vines, the olive and lemon trees, and all the way into the forest. Many hours will be spent exploring the natural woodlands with its wild pigs roaming around sniffing for truffles and the local deer discreetly sauntering by.
You’re spoilt for choice with activities in and around the property from road biking routes – no more than 10 minutes from the property, traversing the tracks of the Tour de France greats – to donkey riding through the woods or electric bikes along the steep mountain roads for those that enjoy an easier pace.
Your days may begin with a rejuvenating morning walk from the farmhouse and into the forest for an ancient Japanese tradition known as forest bathing, where you wander the woods in silence, observing the stillness of nature, with intermittent moments of meditation, amidst the mountain air. After which a dip into the warm waters of the cosy hot tub in the spa invigorates an appetite for lunch. Perhaps a bit of afternoon foraging with the Herbologist through the forest, munching on some wild garlic and learning all about the produce of the region would tickle your fancy. The best part of the experience is returning to the farmhouse kitchen with your findings and cooking up a feast with the resident chef. As with the rest of the ingredients that are all sourced from the land; veggies from the garden, eggs from the chickens, cheese and chorizo from the local livestock, artisanal jams and oils, and truly local honey.
The surrounding area may entice you with cities full of art and culture, fabulous food and frolics, ancient cathedrals and adventures to forgotten beaches along winding roads – there’s an essence to this hideaway that is as alluring as the sights that surround. It intrinsically encourages you to savour the Spanish hours of the day, and the pace at which they should be savoured, surrounded by people that bring us the most joy, through a way of life that brings out the best in each other.
What we love!
- The tower and its spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and forest from the tall windows that let the light flood in, catching the pages of your book that’s loaned from its library as you recline on one of the couches.
- Spending hours in the sun on the front patio observing the nature and evenings on the terrace, listening to the resident owls.
- The farm to fork philosophy of feasting the land’s ingredients that are cooked up in the kitchen beside the mammoth fireplace and long dining table.
- The rustic, rough stone walls with romantic murals – painted by the owner’s family friend who was enthralled by the history of the farmhouse.
- When it’s beautiful weather the courtyard with its pond is a wonderful place to settle for a long lunch.
- There is a typical medieval castle feel to the property with its intimate lighting from suspended candelabras and flickering wood-burning stoves that are harnessed into cosy corners in almost every room.
- The added luxury of the inviting spa and its hot tub-jacuzzi-type deep bath that will revive and recharge in morning and evening alike.
What you need to know…
- Las Heras is 45 minutes from Barcelona – its nearest airport – 15 minutes from Girona and 5 minutes from the village of D’adri.
- Should you wish to enjoy all of your meals at La Heras and only venture out for excursions and activities there is a resident chef and daily housekeeping at the property.
- The property has a bicycle garage that’s fully equipped for the family.
- Aside from Girona having the oldest cathedral in the region – The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona – and being one of the prominent film locations for the reputable tv series, Game of Thrones, it is also where 90% of all the Tour de France cyclists reside! For its idyllic terrain to train.
- Hostal La Fosca is only a 45-minute drive away, for a beach day on the Costa Brava.
- Lake Banyoles is a 10-15 minute drive from the property should you wish to go swimming and exploring the beautiful nearby town and its great restaurants.
- Yoga, meditation and any other kind of holistic workshops can be held on the property, as have been done. It’s ideal location in the mountains, with the surrounding forest and beautiful gardens lend themselves to all kinds of retreats.
- The property sits in the centre of the Empordà wine region, with the town of Figueres and the world’s best restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca only 15 minutes away.
- Las Heras accommodates a total of 15 people – in the princess-like tower, bedrooms and dormitory, plus extra room for staff if necessary.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie