When it comes to hotels, it’s probably fair to say that Andalucia’s not great at full-blown, international class luxury. But then neither does it need to be when what it isgood at is so much more interesting: charming family-run places.
This quick pick of places to stay in southern Spain is a long way short of being definitive. It steers clear of the big cities, for one (watch this space), while I’ve also left out a couple of crackers right here on Annie B’s doorstep in Vejer. Otherwise, though, from higgledy piggledy village houses in Malaga Province to grand old bishop’s palaces in Cadiz, these are (a few of) my favourite small hotels in Andalucia…
La Casa Grande, Arcos de la Frontera
Just up the road from Vejer, Arcos de la Frontera is another beautiful hilltop village. The best place to stay here is La Casa Grande, an 18th-century bishop’s palace just around the corner from one of a brace of pleasingly dilapidated churches. The lovely thing here is the outright disdain it appears to show for chi-chi, identikit boutique hotel-style interiors. Instead, with its plant-filled patio, floors of original azulejos hidraulicos and worn terracotta and a library full of well-thumbed books, it feels exactly like what it is: the home of French owner, Elena. Rooms-wise, it’s worth asking for an outward-facing one as you’ll be rewarded with a sheer drop and amazing views (and in some cases even a terrace with deckchairs and a shower).
Lots of little details stand out, but breakfast particularly sticks in the memory. Served up on the roof terrace you sit, sipping coffee, as the sun heats up the plains and sears away the morning mists.
Calle Maldonado, 10, Arcos de la Frontera; tel. +34 956 70 39 30; Lacasagrande.net.
Almohalla 51, Archidona
A relative newcomer to the Andalucia hotel scene, this beautiful little boutique B&B is a place that’s driven by the personalities of the owners. Myles and David are everywhere – serving drinks, offering tapas bar tips, helping out with travel arrangements, and just generally being really rather fabulous.
That’s not to say that the place doesn’t stand up in its own right, though. Made up of a couple of typical Andalucian village houses joined together, breakfast is served in a lovely little patio, the pool area takes up most of the old kitchen garden, and the dining/late-night drinking area sits in what was once a chicken shed.
Almohalla 51, Archidona, Malaga; tel. +34 952 716 370; Almohalla51.com.
La Almunia del Valle, Monachil
Housed within an old ‘almunia’ (or Moorish summerhouse) the location of this gem of a rural hotel is a little unusual. The walking and skiing of the Sierra Nevada mountains are right on the doorstep, while for sightseeing and nights out Granada’s just a 15-minute cab ride away down towards the vega – so if you fancy mixing a city break with a flop and drop holiday by the pool it’s ideal, in other words.
Run by delightful Madrileño couple, Jose and Patricia, the rooms are stylish and offer plenty of bang for your buck in terms of size and amenities, while outside there’s a lawn-lined pool. Dinner (an excellent set menu when I was last there) is served on summer evenings against a backdrop of the setting sun smouldering on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Stunning.
Calle Umbria, Monachil, Granada; tel. +34 958 30 80 10; Laalmuniadelvalle.com.
The Hoopoe Yurt Hotel, Cortes de la Frontera
‘Hotel’ doesn’t begin to describe Hoopoe Yurt. For starters, you don’t get anything as boring and bog-standard as a room; instead, you get a real-life, traditional Mongolian yurt. There are six in total, connected by winding paths through wild flower-filled meadows. Away from the yurts, the vibe is very bare-foot luxury, Andaluz-style. There’s a bar which opens out onto a small pool, and a restaurant of sorts, too, where you’re served delicious, home-cooked food at a communal table.
We stayed in May, and I genuinely can’t remember a more memorable accommodation experience than lying in bed and listening to the wind blowing through the cork trees and the spring rain pattering on the canvas. A special place.
Apartado de Correos 23, Cortes de la Frontera, Malaga; tel. +34 660 668 241; Yurthotel.com.
La Seguiriya, Alhama de Granada
Precariously perched on the edge of a gorge, Alhama’s a bit like a mini version of Ronda. Except scruffier – in a good way – and without all the tourists. At the heart of the town, in every sense, is La Seguiriya.
I’ve been dropping into this inviting little guesthouse for years, occasionally to spend the night in one of its comfortable, sensibly priced rooms, but mostly for a bite, a drink out on the terrace, and a chat with the owner, Paco. A former flamenco singer of some repute, watching him charm the pants off his international guests while not speaking a word of English is a lesson in natural charm and hospitality. In the evenings he even runs people down to the hot springs that bubble out into the river (Alhama’s a spa town stretching back to Moorish and Roman times) for midnight dips.
Calle de Penas 12, Alhama de Granada, Granada; tel. +34 958 36 06 36; Laseguiriya.com.
This pick of small hotels in Andalucia was put together by expert Spain hotel reviewer Ben Cooper.
Thinking of a holiday in southern Spain? Ask Annie B to help arrange your trip.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in attending a cooking course at Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen, check out the range of places to stay in Vejer de la Frontera.