When Peter Pan said “Come with me, where dreams are born and time is never planned,” he probably had just woken up at the Hotel Aiqua Blava in the Costa Brava, Spain. Over a lifetime of travel and hotel check-ins, I’ve been in few places where the service was as superior but without that awkward “but I’m just a middle class girl” feeling. At this hotel in the town of Begur, staff are three generations deep so some bartenders could be serving up the same mojito recipes as their grandfathers. And manager, Esther treats each worker as a part of her own family. There are many highlights of the property: sweeping cliff views, white waves in the cove, a salt water pool, and paths designed for twilight strolls. But the main event at the Hotel Aiqua Blava is dinner.
A Hotel Made for Long Stays
I wish we could have stayed longer but our post-TBEX itinerary along the Costa Brava allotted only one night at the Hotel Aiqua Blava. But even though we only had 45 minutes before dinner, I managed a quick shower and a memory card download from my Canon 60D. Neil and I were ready to go just as the first spoonful of sugar dropped into the mojito glasses.
The hotel patio overlooks a promontory where waves from the Mediterranean lap into a sheltered inlet. A tree leans over the edge as if it wants to dive into the water too. Candlelight illuminates the dining area and thin columns of slickly designed space-heaters ward off any autumn chill.
As I sat down next to Neil, I saw a small squadron of glassware flanking my white dinner plate. First thing I thought: Don’t knock them over! Luckily, I kept my feet planted on the ground and managed to avoid stemware-dominoes during dinner.
In our party, we had two vegetarians, one celiac and several foodies ready to waft and swirl and nibble their way through the night. As a self-named “vegetarian lite”, I quickly told the waiter, “I can eat seafood!” as to avoid any veg-head substitutions that would leave me out of the prawn-eating party.
First course was delicious with a simple sampling of local sea “fruits”: mussels, langoustine, scallops. Cava filled the first glass to my right and as the night and dishes continued, the waiter continued filling toward the leftside water glass. Salads, breads, and an absolutely decadent lobster bisque rounded out the preliminary courses before the main dishes arrived.
I teetered at the edge of impropriety as I struggled with a stubborn lobster claw that refused to yield to my fork. Discreetly, the maitre’d nodded, whispering something. “He’s going to get something to help you,” my neighbor said and the man reappeared with a lobster cracker.
You’ve seen this scene before in movies. Main character struggles with escargot or crab, leverages too much and—bang—the shellfish goes flying! A few glasses of cava in, I strategized carefully, setting up the cracker and the claw, placing my napkin over the plate and hacked away. Disaster evaded!
The maitre’d even smiled, implying that whatever made me comfortable was fine.
Dinner ended with a playful platter of sweets. They all looked wonderful though I have to admit I never made it past the dark chocolate bonbons with candied pearls. Our host graciously thanked us for attending dinner, though we should have been bowing to her. She said her goodbyes and sailed away through the patio of twinkling lights as the rest of us settled into our warm cappuccinos and sweet liqueurs. After one of the best meals of my life, I have to say thank you to the staff at Hotel Aiqua Blava for a memorable night of candelight and cava.
Side note: Neil and I were disappointed that we couldn’t squeeze in a pre-dinner swim at the gorgeous hotel pool. So at 8am, we jumped out of bed, threw on our suits, and cannonballed into the brisk, salt water pool for a pre-breakfast soak. Fabulous! Disclaimer: this evening we were guests at the Hotel Aigua Blava. We hope our pictures and story leaves no doubt that though we were treated to this meal, we have not exaggerated any detail of dinner.