The pleasing patination on the stone front of this 400-year-old Catalan masia 25 km from Barcelona, could set the tone for a delightful experience. It's run on an intimate scale by an English couple with high housekeeping standards. The accommodation is in seven rooms of varying size (some rather small, but still charming) a suite and a bungalow sleeping five. All the rooms are different - reflecting the themes suggested by their sometimes surprising names - 'African', 'Music', 'Indian' and so on. Guests remark on the peace, and warmth of the welcome. It is 25 minutes by car from Barcelona in the mountains of Sant Pere de Ribes and would make an interesting alternative to staying in Barcelona itself, where to be honest, the hotels don't really offer much of what we look for in this guide. In many ways, its location is ideal: close enough to Barcelona to allow enjoyment of the city's attractions, but far enough to ensure a sense of peace and calm.