If you like the idea of contrasting the vibrant bustle of Barcelona with silence and a slower pace of life, this could be a great choice. A few kilometres north-east of the city, off the A71/E15 near Gualba on the edge of the Montseny national park, is this solid old farmhouse, parts dating from the 12thC. We like the chunky walls, especially impressive in the reception area with its Romanesque arcade, simple desk and sparse furnishings. There's a feeling of space in all the public rooms, with original features artfully preserved (see the splendid beamed ceiling in the sitting room), but not at the expense of comfort. Some of the bedrooms have been forced out of available space, with somewhat boxy results, but others are pleasing and uncluttered. Bathrooms are gleaming and modern. The owner doubles as the chef, and his Spanish regional dishes attract diners from outside the neighbourhood. If the sights of Barcelona aren't enough to keep you busy, the national park offers cycling, fishing, riding and walking.