This truly charming small hotel in superb unspoiled southern French mountain country had our inspector in raptures: ‘Magic’. The little village of Llo straggles up the mountainside, its stone buildings imperceptibly blending into the rock. The Catalan-speaking Cerdagne is half in Spain and half in France and the border seems to be quite indistinct. A high, sun-drenched plateau of pastures and pine forests, it is popular for both summer and winter sports. The Atalaya itself appears to be growing out of the crag on either side of a mountain road and is easily missed. Ingeniously sculpted, it is enchanting, built in 1969 out of the materials of a ruined mas to be entirely in harmony with its natural surroundings. The distinguished cultured atmosphere inside emanates from the personality and taste of the owner, Mme Toussaint. She is charming but speaks little English.
Antique furniture and tasteful fabrics give the natural feel of a home rather than a showroom. Bedrooms are quiet, comfortable and intimate, with soft lighting. The dining room is decorated in rustic style, with gleaming antiques against stone walls. The terrace has private corners, and everywhere there are expansive, uplifting views. Superb food, rooted in the region, adds to the exhilarating sense of being on top of the world.