With many of us now returning to some form of lockdown, the enticing Andalusian interior - land of natural beauty and cultural fascination, endless vistas, traditions, fine food and open spaces - appeals more than ever to those confined in urban spaces. So, to help inspire your escapism plans, here is a list of the best rural retreats in Andalucia, as featured in Marbella´s upscale liftstyle magazine Essential...
Main photo: Hotel La Bobadilla Barcelo, near Loja.
Photo: head to Andalucia´s enticing interior for the best hideaways (El Carligto).
It´s a great article (read the full list below), and it made us think more about what really is the appeal of these kind of places after what we´ve been going through this year. And the overriding reasons have to be space and nature...
Photo: nature and inspiring views are good for you!
“Come to the woods, for here is rest. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” wrote John Muir, the 19th Century Scottish-American naturalist who was one of the earliest advocates of US national parks. Muir spent large chunks of his life exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada (USA), and wrote prolifically of his belief in nature’s nourishing role.
This quote, which seems so perfect for the situation we find ourselves in right now, comes from a BBC article entitled “Time in nature makes us healthier and happier”. Over the past few months there has been a lot written about the benefits of nature, to body and mind.
Photo: get outside and go for an "awe walk".
Now more than ever, spending time in nature and going for walks or bike rides in the great outdoors seem to be a fundamental part of our lives in the “new normal”. One recent study, featured in The Times (UK), suggests that “going for an awe walk, where you make a conscious effort to look for things to be amazed by, can boost emotional wellbeing can help maintain a healthy mind”.
It´s a theme that many believe could bring in a major shift in where we all live, where we work and the type of holidays we might crave for when this is all over. The New York Times Travel suggests people will “gravitate to nature”, with vacations to national parks expected to be more popular than ever. Leading travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler goes further and predicts that Wilderness Seeking and Isolation Holidays are two of their top travel trends for 2021.
Photo: seek out rural hotels in the mountains for the best views.
“Travellers will be craving wide open spaces and inspiring views, heading for the great outdoors in swathes. Plenty of us will be seeking out breaks in places devoid of crowds. Popular beaches, home-share rentals, large hotels and busy cities might be low on the wishlist while private villas, boats and boutique hotels, as well as quiet coastal, lakeside, mountain and rural locations will be scoring high” – Conde Nast Traveler.
RURAL ANDALUSIAN RETREATS YOU NEED TO VISIT – Essentials magazine (July 2020).
“Andalucía is a land of rocky peaks, wooded hills and green valleys. Rivers cascade through the landscape creating natural rock pools and marshy breeding grounds for thousands of visiting birds. It is a land of lakes, deserts, forests, pastures and seas of wheat, vineyards, olive groves and orchards. Andalucía is rich in nature and manmade heritage. When the two come together it creates an intoxicating mix of ingredients. In other words, venturing into the hinterland beyond the mountain ranges of the Costa del Sol opens up a new world. Unforgettable getaways and retreats that rank among the most romantic gems in all Europe. Here is a sample of some of the finest...
Photo: Hacienda de San Rafael hotel, near Seville.
* Hotel Hacienda San Rafael - Las Cabezas de San Juan (Seville)
Once a classic olive-growing estate, this iconic example of Andalusian culture has been meticulously restored and converted. Now a privately-owned retreat in the rolling countryside between Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera. This is a land of ancient agricultural traditions. Where the nearby Guadalquivir River saw Roman barges carry produce to the far ends of the empire.
The location is so private and intimate but surrounded by countryside, farmland and Andalusian villages. As a result, an ideal point from which to explore the region, from its beaches and mountain ranges. Or to the nearby natural wetland reserve of Doñana, one of the largest in Europe. But you’ll struggle to leave, for this is a spot so beautiful you’ll want to linger and enjoy. Tastefully styled accommodation, stylishly authentic décor and gorgeously prepared meals enjoyed in an inspiring outdoor setting. All the amenities that make this a personal resort.
Seven acres of cared-for gardens combine with intimate terraces and swimming pools. Deluxe rooms and casitas, as well as a restaurant and wine cellar to indulge in. All the modern comforts are of course in place, but here you will reconnect with peace, refinement and the finest elements of Andalucía. The retreat caters to romantic getaways and groups, as well as offering an unforgettable spot for a wedding. Complete with airport collection, massage, yoga and personalised activities, and excursions such as river cruises and balloon rides. In short, it’s the ultimate Andalusian experience.
- Double room from 286 euros B&B. www.haciendadesanrafael.com
Photo: La Bobadilla royal hideaway, near Loja.
* Hotel La Bobadilla – Loja (Granada)
This almost legendary luxury hotel with the feeling of a large country estate ranks among the best resorts in Andalucía. Just over an hour from Marbella, in the direction of Granada, it occupies a valley near the little town of Loja. It has famously welcomed celebrities and royalty, including guests such as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Indeed, you do feel rather special as you follow the long driveway to the impressive forecourt. Or better still, land at the private heliport.
The classic white-plastered hotel with Mediterranean lines looks and feels like a rustic palace inside and out. Surrounded by flowing Andalusian terrain but offering the latest in cuisine, luxury and amenities. This includes a dreamy spa where the health and beauty treatments set the tone for fine dining. Luxurious suites and a very long list of possible activities tailored to your personal taste. These can range from horse riding and quad biking through the lovely surroundings to visiting nearby sites. Likewise the chance to laze by the pool or try mountaineering.
Wedding parties come all the way from Japan to enjoy the facilities, service and the private chapel. But this exquisite sanctuary is also used for conferences and other events. Yet, it remains best suited as one of the ultimate country retreats in Andalucía. With service and restaurants in keeping with its standing as a reference point of refinement between Málaga and Granada.
- Double room from 200 euros B&B. www.barcelo.com
Photo: Casa Olea, near Priego de Córdoba.
* Casa Olea – Sierra Subbéticas (Cordoba)
Venture a little further into the Andalusian countryside, a little over two hours’ drive from Marbella, and you enter undulating scenery. A sea of olive groves extends beyond the horizon flanked by wooded hills. Once popular with game hunters, it is now a natural paradise within a short distance of Córdoba. A working farm, Casa Olea provides the Boutique B&B experience in the midst of natural, rural Andalucía. Where gentle sophistication meets the great outdoors.
Peace and open spaces rule, along with unadulterated relaxation or high-octane mountain biking, hiking or related activities. The lovingly prepared food made with pure, fresh produce and served outdoors. To sum up, for those who wish to recharge their batteries, this wonderful getaway in olive country is the real thing.
- Double room: from 136 euros B&B. Whole house rental (6 bedrooms / up to 12 guests): from 645 euros B&B. www.casaolea.com
Photo: Ronda Mountain Resort, near Ronda.
* Ronda Mountain Resort – Serrania de Ronda (Malaga)
Set in the gorgeous green countryside near Ronda, this five-star getaway offers the luxury and service of a resort hotel. Yet, offering guests the intimacy and privacy of a personal villa. Like a landed estate, it stands in the midst of a gorgeous valley. Surrounded by imposing mountain peaks and views of the verdant landscape. In what has become one of the exciting new winegrowing regions of Spain. Less than an hour from Marbella yet far removed, in a world of natural beauty and tranquillity.
It is here that the Ronda Mountain Resort caters to select private groups with luxurious accommodation in the main villa and private casita. The personal service offers a sense of one-to-one concierge in a country retreat environment where the facilities are at your disposal. The extensive range of activities and excursions tailor-made. From fine dining to guided tours, helicopter service and group events. To sum up, It’s a touch of paradise right on our doorstep.
- Whole house rental (7 bedrooms / 14 guests) from 950 euros. www.rondamountainresort.com
Photo: El Carligto, near Canillas de Aceituno.
* El Carligto – Sierra de Malaga (Malaga)
In the hills beyond Málaga there is a private domain that sprawls elegantly across a manicured country garden. The terraces and open air dining areas are intimate and inviting. The lawns and pool decks appear to spill out into a valley full of views. While the lush surrounding greenery provides a sense of privacy from which to survey the mountain ranges and deep blue skies. This is pure Andalucía. From the white-plastered walls of the estate and vines overhanging perfect vantage points. Most importantly the setting, climate and abundance of fine food.
Just a short distance from Málaga and Marbella, El Carligto resembles a hunting lodge. Close to lakes, hiking trails, forests and white mountain villages. It is popular with wedding parties, likewise family groups and romantic couples. Offering the best of rustic delights in a valley of flowers and fragrant herbs. For small and larger groups alike, it offers the kind of spot in which to truly connect with Andalucía.
- “El Carligto” house rental (8 guests) from 800 euros. “Whole estate” rental (up to 14 guests): from 1450 euros. www.carligto.com
Photo: Casa La Siesta, near Vejer de la Frontera.
* Casa La Siesta – Costa de la Luz (Cadiz)
Tastefully restored and made into an inland resort not far from the Atlantic beaches of the Costa de La Luz. Casa La Siesta finds itself in the beautiful wooded environs of Vejer de la Frontera. A white mountain village just beyond the wetlands near the village of Zahara de los Atunes, famous for its tuna. The finest Japanese restaurants send their chefs here to buy some of the very best blue tuna available. It demonstrates in the cuisine available at the retreat.
Stylish, relaxed and exuding an effortless sense of refinement, Casa La Siesta is both sophisticated and natural. For romantic couples, groups, events and weddings, it’s a spot that offers space, tranquillity and service in beautiful surroundings. Celebrating the best in Andalucía’s natural and cultural environment, cuisine and service while providing the ultimate getaway experience right on your doorstep.
- Double rooms from 340 euros B&B. “La Casita” house rental (3 bedrooms / up to 6 guests) from 830 euros. www.casalasiesta.com
This article featured in the July 2020 issue of Essential magazine. To see more visit https://www.essentialmagazine.com/
If you´ve not yet found inspiration from that list, then check out a few of our favourite rural hotels and B&Bs in Andalucia. They´re all full of rural charm, in beautiful locations and run by caring, attentive hosts.
Photo: Finca Buen Vino, Sierra Aracena.
* Finca Buen Vino – Aracena (Huelva): one of the very first small country hotels in Andalucia, set in a stunning 40-hectare private estate with chestnut and cork oak forests. Wonderful walking in the Sierra de Aracena National Park. Often used as a retreat for cookery, writing and painting courses. https://www.fincabuenvino.com/
Photo: El Añadio, Sierra Morena.
* Finca El Añadio – Vilches (Jaén): a working bull ranch surrounded by beautiful Andalucian dehesa scenery in the Sierra Morena. Stunning setting, home-cooked meals and a fascinating insight into the world of toros - whether you are “for” or “against” bull fighting! https://elanadio.es/en/
Photo: Posada del Candil, Sierra de Los Filabres.
* Posada del Candil – Serón, (Almeria): located at 1000m and hidden away in one of Andalucia´s least-visited natural parks (Sierra de Los Filabres), this eco-friendly B&B offers a warm welcome, tasty “slow food”, dark starry nights and lots of outdoor activities. https://www.laposadadelcandil.com/en/
Photo: Little Agave B&B, Cabo de Gata.
* Little Agave – Boca de los Frailes (Almeria): newly opened in 2020 with just 4 en-suite rooms, this stylish off-grid guesthouse makes a great base for exploring some of Andalucia´s best beaches and the striking desert scenery of Cabo de Gata National Park. https://www.littleagave.com/
Photo: views of Moorish watchtowers, olive groves and the Rio Salado (Casa Olea).