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.

Small, Luxury Hotel in Rural Spain

There’s Malaga city and Malaga province, so when booking a small, luxury hotel in rural Malaga you can be sure it’s not in the city.  But only 35 minutes or so drive from the airport into rural countryside, mountains and olive groves you’ll find an enchanting small, luxurious, owner- run hotel that you might just want to stay in forever.

Boutique Hotel Cortijo Sabila Malaga

Hubby and I visited on a rather wild and windy February weekend. We loved the location, decor, roaring log fire, dinner and Airedale dogs. Our trip was to check out the lovely-looking Cortijo Sabila for addition to our Only Spain ~ Boutique  Hotel portfolio of gorgeous little places to stay in our adopted homeland of Spain.

How did we find it? After a little detour, I was driving hubby map reading (or phone reading) without glasses and not being able to check signs, follow the map and communicate with me at the same time (know this one ladies?) we missed it the first time around. But no worries, we got there, approached the rather grand entrance rang the bell and open sesame the gates withdrew. We entered the grounds and gardens of Cortijo Sabila and found it very much to our liking.

Boutique Hotel, Malaga

The day, a little dismal, was brightened by our new furry-friend-doormen who ushered us to the gorgeous wooden door (if you read my Andalucia Explorer blog you’ll know I love wood) which was opened, and we were welcomed, by  the friendly owner and our host Yvonne.

Hotel Cortijo Sabila, Malaga

After seeing several of the lovely, uniquely decorated and laid out rooms we chose the upstairs room with cute terrace and windows on two sides. Brimming with lovely furnishings, tons of details and unique antiques we grabbed our cameras and took lots of photos before our bags were unpacked and things generally became less photogenic.

Boutique Hotel Cortijo Sabila, Villanueva del Rosario, Malaga

The plush purple towels and lovely large wet-room bathroom with his n’hers sink and again lots of lovely touches including big refillable toiletries which the recycling-green-me loves to see and avoids the necessity of taking home semi-used small ones.

See small, luxury Cortijo Sabila on Only Spain Boutique Hotels.

Book Cortijo Sabila on Booking.com (and give me a small comission to keep  writing, exploring and checking out great hotels)

Disclaimer: As the weather wasn’t good and our trip was in February some of photos are  ours and some (it’s obvious which)  the courtesy of our hosts Yvonne and Ray and are on their Cortijo Sabila website.

Fine Dining Chef Ruben Cabrera at Gourmet Restaurant La Cupula, Tenerife

Ruben Cabrera,  Head Chef  at the gourmet restaurant La Cupula on Tenerife, has won the ‘Best Chef in the Canary Islands’ award. Cabrera’s passion for gastronomic excellence in fine dining, which you can experience at Hotel Jardines de Nivaria, earned him the title of ‘Best Chef’  at the regional  ¡Qué Bueno! Canarias Heineken  gastronomy awards.

Chef Ruben Cabrera
Chef Ruben Cabrera

La  Cupula, located in the five-star Hotel Jardines de Nivaria, has become a must-do dining experience for all foodies and fine-diners on the island of Tenerife. Cabrera’s innovation and passion for gastronomy excellence keeps winning him awards.

As well as being the chosen  chef  to represent the Canary Islands in last month’s Madridfusion Gastronomy Summit, he has had an impressive culinary career so far. Cabrera won the ‘Best Chef’ award at the National Gastronomy Contest for the second year in a row in 2016 and he also won the first prize at the International Creative Cuisine Competition ‘Gamba Roja de Denia’ in 2015.

 

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Cabrera, Head Chef at La Cúpula since 2007,  conjures up his delicious dishes  on the fourth floor of Hotel Jardines de Nivaria. An eclectic mix of  fusion,  French and local Canarian cuisines. Not only does the chef have several awards under his belt but the restaurant  had a full refurbishment in 2016 and you can dine with floor-to-ceiling windows giving panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Hotel Jardines de Nivaria is part of the Adrian Hotels group  which has another two hotels on Tenerife:

5* Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel

4*Hotel Colón Guanahani

 

Tenerife calls!

 

 

El Palacio de San Benito

El Palacio de San Benito

The Palacio de San Benito is a quirky, antique-filled place to stay. In the small mountain town of Cazalla de la Sierra about an hours drive from Seville airport through lovely, quiet country roads and scenery reminiscent of the English countryside but with bright blue sky.

El Palacio de San Benito, Cazalla, Sevilla

A private home and converted palace/church make a palatial and welcoming retreat. It’s museum-like decor and time-warped bedrooms bring on thoughts of Pride and Prejudice, lace and crinolines, I didn’t want to leave.

Stay for a night as in a hotel, come for a special meal or family celebration or rent the entire property for your use complete with staff for a private ceremony or family get together.

El Palacio de San Benito, Cazalla, Sevilla

Once you walk through the ancient wooden door and see the gorgeous arched and plant filled patio with trickling fountains, architectural features and lovely old ceramic tiles you’ll be sold. You’ll want to sit and relax. Be drawn into the peace it oozes and shut out the world of today.

 

Charm, style and oodles of character make this just up my street. Dark wooden beams, hefty, cushion-filled sofas and my own tiny patio with its own water feature. I could have moved in or at least stayed long enough to relax and read some of the book collection in the amazing library complete with hand painted ceiling beams.

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My room for the night was Del Infante, the baby’s or child’s room, with four-poster bed festooned with bright chintz and a cot to match. Needless to say I  didn’t need the cot and haven’t needed one for nearly twenty years and actually it’s adults-only, adding to its peace and quiet.

 

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Comfortable on the sofa I perused some interesting sale and antique magazines before taking a spot of air on my small private patio.

El Palacio de San Benito

Part of the original church, now a fabulous dining room with hand-painted walls, hosts dinner parties and private functions in very elegant style.

El Palacio de San Benito

The Palacio de San Benito is a unique stay. Gorgeous, eccentric and definitely worth putting on your list.

 

Read my post about the Bib Gourmand Restaurante San Agustin in Cazalla de la Sierra where we ate while staying at San Benito.

Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important

Why are some hotel breakfasts so bad? I just have to say….

Breakfast is something I can take  or leave at home. Nothing special, important yes but a banquet, no. There’s never time. So when away, for me the breakfast really is the make or break of a great hotel. Hotel Breakfasts are very important. It’s often the last impression as we eat breakfast before leaving. It’s the way for hotels to really sing and dance but …. often it’s very disappointing.

Hotel La Gastocasa Breakfast
Hotel La Gastrocasa

A great hotel, and I presume most hotels want to be great at what they provide, have to lay on a finale – the final spread. A great breakfast. So why don’t they? How often have you looked over the selection and felt let down?  With no real desire to eat because it’s so uninspiring. What about the coffee machine? Does it grumble like an old man? Take ages? And then the coffee is just plain awful.

Hotel Viento 10
Hotel Viento 10

For larger hotels, yes it’s more difficult but I’m talking about those small, boutique, charming hotels that forget their charm in the morning, like a lover who sneaks out in the night.

Hotel Los Castaños
Hotel Los Castaños

What does it for me? Juice has to be juice. Freshly squeezed. Personally grapefruit or orange or the chance to have a mixture. I don’t want bacon and eggs but hubby would if on offer and freshly cooked but not when congealing and only lukewarm.

A choice of wholemeal bread and a toaster that doesn’t take forever then spit the toast out or loose it down the back. Extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes preferably grated,  a choice of chopped fruit  and good coffee, made to order or maybe an Earl Grey tea (but I often have ‘my’ brand tea bag with me.)

What makes a good to fabulous breakfast for you?

Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important – to me. Are they to you? Please leave a comment and  let me know what you think and/or some great and not so great breakfasts you’ve experienced.

The Hotel Breakfasts in the photos are ones I have particularly enjoyed and rated highly, you can find these hotels on my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels site. I’ve linked each to its page below.

Hotel Viento 10, Cordoba

Hotel La Gastrocasa, Gandia

Hotel Los Castaños, Malaga

See my post on Two Great Small Hotels.

Two Fabulous, Small, Owner-run, Adult-only, Foodie Hotels

This year I’ve gallivanted around Spain again, covering lots of kilometres, new and interesting places and staying in some really great Boutique Hotels for OnlySpain. Here I’m going to share two  very lovely, small, owner-run hotels that  also cook and serve great food and don’t allow young children.

One at a beach destination but not on the beach and the other a rural mountain village hotel – both are fabulous. Enjoy.

Hotel La Gastrocasa

Gandia is a beach town in the Valencia region on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, not a spot you’d think of for a quiet escape. Hotel La Gastrocasa offers just that, away from the hubble and bubble of the beach but only five minutes or so by free-to-use hotel bike. In a sleepy urbanisation this once family villa is now a gorgeous 5-bedroom adult-only hotel.

Hotel La  Gastrocasa

Hubby and I stayed two nights and couldn’t fault a thing. The service, by the family, the food and presentation, by the family, the individually decorated rooms (yes, I got to see them all) and the fabulous breakfast spread.

Hotel La Gastocasa Breakfast

For a real country-feel escape yet on the coast  with the beach nearby then this charming hotel is for you.

Read more about Hotel La Gastrocasa.

Hotel Los Castaños

Cartijima, a small, white village in the huge mountain range Serrania de Ronda is home to the lovely Hotel Los Castaños. A quiet, sleepy town providing the perfect setting for a step-back in time, relaxing stay.

Hotel Los Castanos

Hotel Los Castaños with only six rooms provides an escape, a base for walking, great hosts and home-cooked food, you’ll feel as if you’re staying with friends, perfectly relaxed and at home-comfortable.

Hotel Los Castanos

Huge rolling mountain views from some rooms and the pretty  roof terrace are to die for, it is impossible to see those views and not take a deep breath of calming satisfaction. Our one-night stay was just spot on, had we stayed longer I, who cannot draw or paint, would have had a go, with the provided artist materials, to capture those enormous views.

Read more about Hotel Los Castaños.

See my post featuring Hotel Los Castaños Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important