Friday, May 8, 2015

A Family Affair: Hostal Ribas in Lloret de Mar

In the seaside town of Lloret de Mar in Catalunya, Spain, a family-run hotel is hard to come by. Lloret de Mar used to be full of family-run boutique lodging, but corporate greed took over, leaving the streets lined with chain hotels and neon signs. Luckily, that family-owned charm still exists in Lloret de Mar, and you can find it at Hostal Ribas. During our stay, Bethany and I sat down with Miquel Ribas to discuss his family, the hotel's history and vision, and even some botany (but more on that later), and now we're here to tell you all about it.

Back when Lloret de Mar was still a fisherman's town, Darwin Ribas founded this hotel with his wife, Lolita Carbó, in 1962. After passing on ownership to Miquel and his sister Pepi, Hostal Ribas is now on its third generation. Pepi's children (Jordi and Cristina) have taken the lead, and Hostal Ribas is thriving more than ever. Miquel has since moved to Palma de Mallorca but came to his hometown for the weekend to meet with us. How nice is that?!

The Ribas-Carbó family.
Photo c/o Bethany Dickey

When Jordi and Cristina decided to continue the hotel three years ago, they started with some major renovations. Since the hotel has been around since the '60s, they wanted to make it look new and fresh again. As a matter of fact, Jordi did all of the redesigns himself! He modernized the hotel rooms, lobby, and hallways in order to appeal to younger generations and new clients. Miquel admits that they were a little nervous when Jordi wanted to pain the hallways black, but luckily Jordi's vision came to life and the halls look great!

The bodega that Lolita designed still welcomes guests, locals, and tourists alike on a daily basis, offering a variety of drinks and tapas. Miquel explained that the bodega is called Can Garet, as can means house in Catalan and Garet is Darwin's family nickname. Among the many decorations of the bodega's walls are a life saver with Can Garet written on it as well as Miquel's old license plate from when he lived in the U.S. Mugs fill the rest of the blank space--each one was a gift to the family, from friends and guests alike. It's incredible that the decoration alone tells part of the family story.

Photo c/o Bethany Dickey
Photo c/o Bethany Dickey

And, of course, they whipped up some goodies for us in the bodega! We got to try mojitos, strawberry and lime caipiroskas, and a popular tapa from the region called patatas bravas.

Yolanda makes the best drinks!
Patatas bravas are thinly cut potato slices with a spicy mayonnaise sauce.

Also, it's vital to discuss how welcoming this family is to tourists. Miquel went out of his way to get us each a copy of his book, The Plants of the Trevi Fountain, that he helped write during his time in Rome. He's a scientist who focuses primarily in botany, so he told us about his inspiration for the book and how he and his partners conducted the research. The book came just in time, as Rome is my next stop!

Miquel's act of kindness didn't come as a surprise to us, though, after hearing him talk about Hostal Ribas' guests. As we flipped through photo albums dating back to his childhood, showcasing photos of him and Pepi playing with the tourists, he said that one thing that's really nice about having a small hotel is that you remember everyone's names and rooms. But what really stuck with us was when he exclaimed that "tourists are part of the family here."

Photo c/o Bethany Dickey

Just hearing the family story is enough to entice you to stay, but the hotel is so much more. The bedrooms have a modern but luxurious feel with details such as the lit-up headboard, basin sink, and even packets of aloe vera to soothe your beach burns. Speaking of the beach, it's just down the street--not even a three-minute walk away!

Beyond the beach, Hostal Ribas has a fantastic location. Lloret de Mar's bus station is only a 13-minute walk away, the Museu Del Mar is only five minutes away, and the main square and drag are not even 10 minutes away on foot.

The view from the room wasn't too shabby, either!

Why should you visit Lloret de Mar instead of a bigger city, though? You get all of the perks of a beach vacation without the hefty price. Plus, being only an hour away from Barcelona and 30-40 minutes from Girona, it's easy to do day trips. Rates start at 38€/night for a double room, so even if you're planning to spend the majority of your time in Barcelona or especially in Girona, you'd not only save some money by staying at Hostal Ribas but you'd also get a relaxed, more family-friendly vibe.

  • Towels: yes
  • Private bathrooms: yes
  • Toiletries: soap and aloe vera
  • Hairdryer: yes
  • WiFi: yes
  • Elevators: yes
  • Nighttime security: yes
  • Bar: yes (Can Garet next door)
  • Breakfast: yes, for 5€/person
  • Pool: no
  • TV: yes
  • Heat and air conditioning: yes
  • Parking: yes, for a fee
Interested in visiting Lloret de Mar and staying at Hostal Ribas? I don't know why you wouldn't be! Here are the details:
It's best to book on their website, as perks will include a welcome drink at Can Garet, 20% off all food and drinks at Can Garet, and a 30% discount on parking.

Are any of you planning to visit Lloret de Mar? Special thanks again to Hostal Ribas for welcoming us, and we can't wait for our next visit to Lloret de Mar!

Full disclosure: While I was a guest at Hostal Ribas, all opinions are my own.

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