By Regina Winkle-Bryan
Don’t get me wrong, I liked Hotel Mas Pau, a 4-star, 20-room boutique hotel in rural Catalonia. The grounds are gorgeous with vast gardens, verdant lawns, a simple playground and a very private pool surrounded by hedges.
The small hotel’s location is also superb, encompassed by fields that yield sunflowers come summer. Near Figueres and fairly close to the Costa Brava, one of Spain’s most idyllic stretches of coastline, Hotel Mas Pau is well situated for Girona exploration.
My problem with Hotel Mas Pau is in the little details…maybe these little details wouldn’t bother others, but I noticed them with a critical eye. For instance. Why is there a painting in rust, orange, mustard and blue of a smirking clown in my Jr. Suite? I don’t like clowns. Most people don’t like clowns. I especially don’t clowns in the bedroom where they are weird and creepy. The rest of the art is wild and clashing as well, but the clown upset me the most.
The curtains are in pastels in a tulip print, the wood furniture a mix of blond and cherry and the blankets on the bed so thin that I was a bit cold. However, I can also see the good in the place. The bathroom, for example, is enormous, larger than some of my former apartments. Elegantly tiled in marble the bathroom has both a tub and a shower, plus a separate toilet. The views from the room’s two windows are also lovely, looking out onto fields and gardens.
The main house, or la masia, is where breakfast is served ($16) as well as dinner in the Mas Pau restaurant, which has held one Michelin star for many years now. I ate at the restaurant, which is quite a place because of its location in the upper-level of the masia, in what was at one time the kitchen and bedrooms. It’s clear that they have not done much to change the structure of this 16th century farmhouse.
I did not eat too much. There were two of us, and between us we had one green bean salad, a couple glasses of very good Rioja wine, and the grilled manta ray with artichoke hearts and bacon-wrapped baby squid. We also ordered sorbet for dessert. On top of what we ordered, our attentive waiters brought us some starters which were interesting, but not something that I would have normally ordered. We assumed they were on the house, and so ate them. The olive oil butter was the highlight.
With dessert they brought a tray of candies and cookies, some quite tasty, and we assumed them to be complimentary as well. We didn’t even eat them, as we had the sorbet. All and all, the best part of the meal was the manta ray, which I later regretted eating because it’s a manta ray, and I have always liked how these fish look in the wild.
When I looked at the bill the next day in the car (I had already left and checked out), I realized that on top of the fact that my bill was about $120.00, I was charged for the appetizers, bread, butter, and dessert tray that I had NOT ordered, and in the case of the cookies, not even eaten!
I’ve seen this scam before in Catalonia, but never in a Michelin star restaurant! Never at such a high price! If there is one thing that I detest, it is being nickel-and-dimed. Tell me the price and I will either pay it or not, but do not act like something is free and then charge me! This ruined the Mas Pau restaurant experience for me. Chef Xavier Sagrista may have worked at Bulli, but that doesn’t warrant this sort of gouging.
So, to conclude, your Scoopettes do recommend Hotel Mas Pau for location and price ($125 a night), but we do not recommend the restaurant because of their shady ways. Ask for the room without the clown for sweet dreams.