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.

Handmade Spanish Mediterranean Fashion

Tongue Bags the handmade in Mallorca collection of stunning Mediterranean bags and T-shirts shout summer, style, coolness. And everything has that light, bright Mediterranean feel.

Tonguebags Mallorcan Fashion

Handmade in Mallorca the bags collection is a fine example of a Young Mallorcan fashion label who use the distinctive “llengües” fabric which has been made on the island for hundreds of years.


These handmade casual bags originated from two young Majorcan brothers who are interested in contemporary design and the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle.


All the designs are handcrafted in small workshops near the Mediterranean and all the supplies are sourced locally.

Each carefully produced product made by the craftspeople is hand elaborated making each unique.

The material “llengües” which translates as cloth of tongues is made by complex ancient weaving techniques passed down through generations of craftspeople.

The result is a fabric which is exclusive to the island of Mallorca which is the only place in the world where it’s manufactured and has been so since 1854.


To see the full range of colours and designs from this young, vibrant fashion team’s collection of bags and T-shirts see Tonguebags.

36 Hours in Granada

At the end of May we paid a visit to Granada, a city that I like more and more each time I go. This trip we were staying overnight so leaving home in Jaen province fairly early we left our car in a central car park, took a taxi and were having second breakfast (hubby’s choice) next to the River Darro by 11am, very civilised indeed.

Hotel Zawan Bar, Granada

At 12pm we headed to the Hammam Baths just over the river for a session of pampering. Moorish design, low lights, fabulous tiles and background music all set the scene to transport you back into the Moorish era. Between horseshoe arches, mint tea, a sauna and the succession of hot, warm and cold baths it’s hard not to unwind. Peace reigns.

To finish our time we had a super relaxing massage and left feeling ready to face our day of sightseeing. Thinking about it now we should have done the walking and sightseing first then have a Hammam and massage to end the day. Next time.

Just down the road we lunched at La Cueva a decent restaurant with a good choice and decent wine list. Then a stroll around the Moorish quarter of the Albaicin followed by a teashop visit with a menu of teas making it very hard to decide.

We then went to our lovely little hotel Posada de Quijada which is up the windy cobbled back streets, which is where I choose and why we had only brought rucksacks.

A charming hotel with only six rooms around a central patio where we had an early breakfast in very pleasant temperature. When we checked in the girl noticed it was my birthday and left a bottle of cava, some tiny peaches and a birthday card on our bed. I was impressed.

Posada de Quijada, Granada

We walked back down to the River and Le Chien Andalou where we’d booked a front row table for a Flamenco Show. I adore live Flamenco. It was good. Very good. After sampling some more wine we found our hotel again without too much difficulty!

The next day having been inside the Alhambra before we chose to take the bus up to the main gate and wander back down to town via the outside walls. A lovely shady, plant-filled path snaking it’s way around the walls with views of the palace and back onto the River Darro at the far end in what I think is called Paseo de las Tristes.

As we wandered along the river strains of guitar music called us to a young man with a huge smile playing some incredibly beautiful classical piece. It was time to sit and have the first beer of the day serenaded by skillful playing.

Further along the riverside we again heard a guitar and through the dappled trees on the other side saw a man on a tiny metal-railed balcony head down, finger-picking the strings so intently we automatically stopped, mesmerized. When he finished he looking up, saw us and nodded to a basket on our side of the river. We added to his collection while wondering how safe it was there.

A very pleasant, music-enjoyed, wine-mellowed, relaxed moments two days. It felt longer. We’d packed our time in Granda with many memories and a longing to return.

On our previous visit we stayed at the lovely Hotel Boutique Gar  Anat. See it on Only Spain Boutique Hotels where I’ll soon be adding the Posada de Quijada too.

Did you see the 36 Hours in Cordoba post?

If you want to visit the Alhambra with a guide or fancy a walking route around the Albaicin, seeing a Flamenco show in Sacromonte or a photographers tour of Granada look at if you book a tour and use the discount code – SPANIOLA you will get a 10% discount off many of the tours and I will get a small commision for introducing you.

Hammam Baths in Granada

The Al Andalus Hammam Baths in Granada are just off the famous River Darro with flags fluttering from the Alhambra tower above. Cross one of the lovely ancient arched bridges and down a narrow back street the Hammam welcomes you to enter the hefty Moorish wooden door.

Al Aandalus Hammam Baths Granada

Greeted by humidity and incense, candles and Moroccan decor you know the journey has begun. Welcomed, given a coloured band if you’re booked for a massage and protective plastic slip-ons to go over your footwear you enter the steamy, dimly-lit, senuous (but hot with street clothes on) changing rooms. Moorish horseshoe arches, candles, Nasri-style  decoration and beautiful tiles set the scene. Silence prevails. Relaxation and pampering begin here.

Hammam Baths, Granada

Head out into the baths and you’re shown the different bathing areas, one cold, one warm, two hot and the sauna. Take a shower in the massage area and you’re ready to float, relax, work your way through the different temperature baths, admire the lovely decor, inhale the incense and drift away to the soft and dreamy  Moorish music. The quietness, the ambient lighting and the romance means you will relax, except in the cold pool if you’re brave enough!

Hammam Baths, Granada

After several rounds of pools and sauna sessions, between hot mint tea which made you actually want to get into that cold pool, and having chosen between four different essential oils for our massage, we were summoned. I chose Lavender and hubby chose Pomegranate oil for ours.

Hammam Baths, Granada

Waiting briefly on a huge hot stone, too warm without a towel, I could have stayed there longer, our masseures beckoned us. Each in our own little cave-like cubby hole our chosen oil and our choice of back or legs or both and soft, medium or hard our Mimma massage began. After feeling clean and cleansed from bathing the massage was the cream on the cake. Pampered? Yes. Relaxed? Yes. Calm? Yes. Content? Yes. Revived? Yes.  Wanting to leave? NO!

I was a very contented guest of Hammam Al Andalus who have four Hammams in Spain in Cordoba, Granada, Madrid and Malaga.


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.

Dixtinto Gastro - Arroceria

Jaen Restaurant ~ Dixtinto Gastro -Arroceria

Restaurant Dixtinto or to use it’s full name Dixtinto Gastro – Arroceria in the lively, downtown area of Jaen is a fun place to eat.


Light and bright, eat inside or out with a choice of Mediterranean and Traditional cuisine as well as specialising in rice dishes  means making a choice is not easy to do.

Dixtinto Gastro - Arroceria

Manuel Frutos, chef and 3rd place prize-winner in the 2015 International Competiton for Valencian Paella, is from Jaen. Weaned on local extra virgin olive oils, the base of all Jaen’s gastronomy which this days are getting better and better. Not only the oils but the presentation of them too. Frutos also did his training in Jaen, so what better qualifications could he have. For a showcase of young, avantguard Jaen cuisine by a great upcoming chef this is a great place to experience.

Dixtinto Gastro - Arroceria

Dixtinto is an Oleo Tour Jaen Restaurant, a group promoting ‘Olive Oil Tourism‘ be it restaurants, spas, olive oil mills, producers and olive oill museums. Normally there’s a display and the possibitlity to purchase of extra virgin olive oils on all these premises.

Oleo Tour Jaen


Just two of the extra virgin olive oils we got to taste, dunk lovely fresh bread into fresh and vibrant olive oils, each one different, is a perfect start to you meal. Then taster after taster of beautifully prepared, artistically designed tapas kept arriving pared with a very good couple of local red wines. When in Jaen……


I visited Jaen as part of a blog trip for the promotion for its 20 year anniversary as ‘Jaen Inland Paradise’. As I  live in the province I will be re-visiting Dixtinto, my sons too who first told me about it.

Boutique Hotel-ing Road Trip in Spain

One of the many things I love about living in rural Andalucia is the quietness. Peaceful countryside, vast vistas and empty roads. Open roads, sweeping views, gorgeous scenery. Mountains, valleys, olive groves and swathes of sunflower fields. Each small white town, lies as if planted in nature and can be seen as a dot in the distance growing larger. Narrow streets, plants cascading from balconies and pots…….. Read More.

Empty Road, Road Trip Spain
Empty Road, Road Trip Spain