Unique, Handmade Spanish Leather Bags

Fernando Garcia of FG Bags designs, makes and sells unique 100% leather handbags, satchels and purses in his shop in Grazalema near Ubrique in the south of Spain. Ubrique is a small mountain town in Cadiz province which has a long tradition of making leather goods.

Handmade does mean exactly that. Fernando doesn’t use any machines all his bags are stitched by hand and every item is a one-off gorgeous bag that he produces, each piece begins its life when he chooses a piece of leather. The  top-quality leather, its thickness, its uniqueness is what inspires him.

When Fernando abandoned his stressful job in Madrid and came to the area he brought with him his uncle´s leather-working tools. He´d chosen to live in a place ‘famous’ for its leather-working traditions and so had full and easy access to tools and top-quality animal hides. He started small, selling from home and craft fairs around the provinces. Then he obtained the shop in Grazalema and now he runs a very successful business which supports his family.

“ I never do the same thing! I never repeat a design for a bag. I go down to Ubrique to buy the hides….. I look at them, smell them, feel and handle them. Then the ideas are sown. Every hide is different so every piece which comes from that hide is different.  All my bags are unique….. When I´ve used a pattern to cut out a bag I throw the paper away”

 

Fernanado Garcia Bags

Fernando left his stressful job in Madrid and went to the area around Ubrique with his uncle’s leather-working tools. He’d chosen to live in a place which was famous for its leather-working traditions and top-quality animal hides.

 

FG Bags also has an ‘organic’ range with leathers that are made from natural vegetable tanned cowhide which influences the form, texture, thickness and natural colour of the material.

From starting small, selling at craft fairs and from home around the provinces, he now has a shop in Grazalema, the town next to Ubrique,  and  runs a very successful one-man business.

For gorgeous, individual bags you must check out Fernando Garcia. His unique and bespoke designs can be bought directly from his shop and they can also be ordered online from FG Bags.

 

 

Rural Hotel Hacienda El Santiscal

There’s nothing I like better than when I’ve seen a hotel that I know I’m going to like very much, added it to my ‘want to visit’ list and then get invited to stay. That’s what happened with Hacienda El Santiscal, I’d already got my eye on it for my growing collection of Boutique Hotels – Only Spain.

So when I was approached by them to be part of my hotel portfolio we fixed the dates and off hubby and I went. It’s always a joy driving in Spain and leaving our mountainous olive-tree covered province of Jaen behind. Heading south-west the land flattens. Green fields, sunflowers and golden wheat plateaus flow into one another.

We touch on the Sierra Norte de Cadiz and head to Arcos de la Frontera one of Spain’s many beautiful villages, one of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ the famous White Villages which straddle the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga.

Hacienda El Santiscal is not only the oldest Hacienda, dating from XV century, but also Spain’s longest running hotel. With this wealth of experience in a gorgeous historical building with lovely views this is a charming, really rural escape.

Enter the enormous, built for carriages, doorway to a typical square, traditional open Andalusian patio. Around the square there’s a restaurant, reception and bar, through to the back and a sparkling, round pool. With on-going views behind the pool and grassy lawn with sunloungers you instantly feel like relaxing on one.

See Hacienda El Santiscal on my Only Spain Boutique Hotels site.

Luxurious Andalusian Hotels on Conde Nast List

I’m always looking up and visiting great hotels in Spain, they are my passion and the sole reason for starting my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotel collection. It’s taking me a while and it’s not easy visiting gorgeous hotels but the portfolio is growing and most quickly in Andalusia the region of Spain in which I live.

Hotel Cortijo Bravo

When I stumbled upon the Spanish Conde Nast list El Lujo es un Cortijo – Luxury is a Cortijo (country house)  I was very happy that I knew about (but have not visited) most of them. The one new addition (Cortijo Los Malenos) to my  list of ‘lovely places to stay that I want to visit for Only Spain’ makes me wonder whether I’ll make it around the whole of Spain when Andalucia is so large and diverse. It’s a huge country to a Brit like me but one I delight in exploring.

Hotel Molino del Arco, Ronda, Jose Salto

How Conde Nast managed to limit their list to eleven  I don’t know but these ones are indeed gorgeous, luxury cortijos which are now small hotels or B&Bs.  I thought the list should be shared in English – if you’re looking for a great place to stay then this list won’t make your choice easy!

Luxurious Cortijo Hotels in Andalusia

Cortijo Carligto – Canillas del Aceituno, Malaga

Hotel Cortijo Bravo – Velez, Malaga

Molino del Arco – Ronda, Malaga

La Amunia – Monachil, Granada

Cortijo Los Malenos – Cabo de Gata, Almería

Finca Las Encinas – Iznajar, Cordoba

Finca La Guarda – Alcala del Valle, Cadiz

Molino Rio Alajar – Aracena, Huelva

Hacienda San Rafael – Cabezas de San Juan, Sevilla

Cortijo El Sarmiento – Mojacar, Almeria

Finca Cortesin – Casares, Malaga

The only part of this list I’m not happy about is that there is at least one hotel from every one of the eight provinces in Andalusia except my home province of  Jaen. How sad is that. I know Jaen doesn’t have the same amount of luxury properties as other more touristy  and famous areas but there are some special places here too! Check out Boutique Hotels in Jaen Province on Only Spain to see.

The only one on the list that is on Only Spain at the moment is Finca Las Encinas.

Finca de las Encinas

The source for this post was this article – Conde Nast Spain if you want to see the original post in Spanish.

To read other posts about Hotels in Spain here on Luxury Spain Travel have a look at the Review page.

World’s First Sherry Boutique Hotel in Spain

The province of Cadiz well-known for its wines and wine cellars is to have the world’s first sherry hotel. The wine cellar, bodega in Spanish, González Byass has announced its plans to convert its old bodega housing in the town of Jerez de la Frontera.

gonzalez-byass

Situated in the old quarter the hotel, which González Byass say, will be a Boutique Hotel, the first Sherry Boutique  Hotel in which you can sleep in ancient wine cellars. The aroma and history of centuries wine making whisper secrets from the past in this historical location in front of Jerez Cathedral.

The famous bodega  is Tio Pepe, one of the best known and most visited wine cellars in Europe with over 200.000 a year. With the opening of the ‘Sherry Hotel’ planned for late 2018 visitors will be able to have a complete ‘wine’ experience, not only tours and tastings but sleeping in a wine cellar too, living and learning about its history and culture.

I’ll put my name on the list to stay, what about you?

Sources/Photo credit: Diario de Jerez/González Byass / Manuel Aranda