Siete Balcones is a charming rental located in the heart of the historic quarter of Vejer de la Frontera in Andalucia, Spain.
How would you describe Alemanys 5 in a nutshell?
Alemanys 5 sits proudly in the historic quarter of the medieval town of Girona in Spain. The old house was brilliantly restored by architect Anna Noguera and is now available as a five-bedroom luxury villa rental or two individual apartment rentals. Modern interiors serve as an enchanting contrast to the warm lighting and the rustic natural stone. The fluidity of spaces extends out to the inner courtyard with a luscious green garden, a plunge pool and a seating area for alfresco dining. Enjoy the views of Plaça de Sant Domènec from the veranda or head out to explore Catalonia with its beautiful pristine beaches.
You bought Alemanys 5 about 10 years ago. When did you start remodeling it?
Yes, we bought it 10 years ago but it was in a very bad state structurally, because there had been some recent alterations to it. My wife, who is the architect, took quite a lot of time designing the different spaces and once we had agreed on the layout of the building, we needed a construction company that was able to understand the old, but open to the new as well.
Overall the work took more than 3 years, because each step was difficult. When you start doing things in an older house, you tend to find surprises and you have to reconsider what to do.
When we bought the house our idea was to live and work there, but during that time we had children and had settled in Barcelona, so it was difficult to change everything. So now we are using it as a vacation home and rent it out.
My wife approached the old house in a modern way, like an evolution without breaking with the past. She worked with natural light and the materials’ quality — stone, wood, iron and concrete. We were assisted by some good friends. The furniture is from a friend who owns a magnificent decoration studio in Girona. The lighting, kitchen, and even the pool were also done by friends. The dining table was my project. It has wheels so you can easily move it to the veranda and enjoy dinner outside.
Girona looks like a very rich, historic city.
It’s one of the richest cities in Spain. People don’t show their wealth here, but you can feel it.
The old city center is one of the best-preserved areas in Spain, together with Toledo. It has been touched by a lot of cultures. In fact, in the 14th Century, Girona had one of the main Kabbalistic schools of the Jewish world and you can still find traces of its Roman and French past as well.
When you look back, what has been the biggest reward renting out Alemanys 5?
I am in the hospitality business and I like welcoming people at home, so I try to establish a relationship with them. And with some of them we have even become friends — for example there’s a German creative director at an advertising agency who likes food like me, or one of the world's greatest cycling champions who regularly comes for a visit.
It’s also great when people write comments like this is the ‘best rental ever’, or that we’re a ‘stunning apartment in a charming city’.
What’s one of the most typical dish in this area of Spain?
The region of Gerona is known for its mix of meat and seafood dishes, like chicken with prawns, pork with lobster or pork feet with crayfish, which is very delicious. You can find very good quality fish, vegetables and meat at the market and we have a lot of good wine sellers in the city as well.
Girona also has some of the best restaurants in the world. ‘El Bulli’ for example was considered to be the best restaurant in the world for four years and its chef Ferran Adrian chef of the decade. Or ‘El Cellar de Can Roca’, which is number four on the list.
Eating and cooking is an important part of the house. We even have an outside fireplace where I like to do barbecues. For me it’s a way to relax on the weekends.
Is there a special place in Girona that makes you feel at home?
In Girona we have several bridges that connect the old pedestrian area with the newer one on the other side. It’s very nice to cross these bridges, walking down both sides. You have ducks, seagulls and fishes there and all the houses are painted in different colors. It’s like a painting. It’s beautiful.
There are lots of nice shops and there is often music in the streets, so it’s a very nice area for walking and hanging out. It’s like the center of a village.