A favourite holiday destination for folk from Barcelona and Madrid wanting to escape stifling city heat, Vejer de la Frontera is a stunning hilltop Moorish town 9km from the empty golden beaches of the Costa de la Luz on the Altlantic coast. Wander round the ancient cobbled streets in complete safety, eat delicious tapas in one of the many street cafes. Sit on the terrace of the hippy chic Hotel la Case del Califa with a glass of chilled local sherry and watch Morocco twinkling away in the distance. In August the Festival is wonderfully colourful; there’s music on every street corner, and even the hardest of hearts will melt at the sight of the kids dancing their socks off in the flamenco competitions - which are taken very seriously! There’s minimal tourism, the climate is cool and the townspeople are very friendly.
Recommended for pure romance and delight for bright cold winter days, (though beautiful in summer too). Give yourself two days. Drive through the winding Alpujarras mountains to reach El Ventorro, a rural hotel and restaurant, a couple of kilometres outside Alhama de Granada. Here, you can feast on incredible local food, from mushrooms collected in the forest, to local cheese and serrano ham, washed down with surprisingly delicious locally produced wine (well marketed in smart bottles- take one home with you) by a roaring fire in winter. At night you can stay in a beautifully lit cave room, with a four poster bed-the best sleep of your life! And the next day, you can choose whether to luxuriate in the atmospheric, heavenly (and spotless) Arabic baths built in the next door caves, or walk through the sandstone river valley and canyon to the historic town of Alhama de Granada, replete with Nazari ruins, a castle, historic squares, fountains and everything that Andalucia has to offer. If you can fit in the baths and the walk, you may be tempted to stay a second night in one of those beautiful caves and start the whole cycle again! And this whole delicious assault on the senses (cave bedroom, dinner, breakfast arabic baths) will only set you back about 70 euros. Stunning.
Boutique B&B: 30 minutes drive into the hills from Malaga airport. It was the perfect place to decompress before embarking on our tour of Andalucia. Lots of private perches to take in the panoramic views, stylish decor and luxury where it counts - beds and showers. Stunning food too and gay friendly hosts with joie de vivre.
Montes De Malaga, Colmenar, Solano
+34 622 51 50 88
It's a luxury hotel like many others in the area but it's perched on a cliff face and has its own James Bond-style private beach at the bottom of the cliff.
There are a few spots on the Spanish coast that remain undeveloped and the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar just east of Almeria is one of them. An area of cliffs, arid hills, spectacular beaches and picturesque fishing villages, although not undiscovered this area has a wildness and a sense of space for those seeking a more elemental seaside holiday. Stay in San Jose if you want a small taste of nightlife, otherwise stay at Los Escullos, either at the hotel or the campsite and during the day take a walk to the centre of the extinct volcano and spend the evening lying on the warm rocks by the sea watching the stars.
Los Escullos, 04118 Almeria, Spain
+34 950 389 811
Google map: bit.ly/jFdyTB
Los Escullos, 04118 Los Escullos Nijar Almeria, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/iIp4Kp
+34 950 38 97 33
Stay in a comfortably rustic cottage along a farm track; sitting on a hillside surrounded by cork oaks, olive trees and tranquility in the grounds of an Andalucian Cortijo. The natural park of the Sierra de Aracena y Los Picos de Aroche abound with walks for all abilities and the cottage has a copy of Guy Hunter-Watts' book to help you on your way. The area also has caves, the mines of Rio Tinto are an easy drive away and the owner, Caroline, can organise riding. The restaurants, bars and shops of Aracena are only two kms away and Caroline's welcome includes filling the fridge with a delicious selection of local food.
In Las Alpujarras is a traditional group of homesteads and farm buildings which have been beautifully transformed into an hotel/apartment complex, enjoying fantastic views of the Sierra Nevada National Park. We (wife, son and I ) stayed there in 2009 and enjoyed this peaceful, idyllic location including it's inexpensive fine menu and wines. It has it's own vineyard, stables, hermitage and swimming pool to enjoy. Heaven!
This is a great medium sized village with quite a bit of accommodation - we stayed in a cave, of which there are several around. The best bit was arriving (unplanned) on the penultimate weekend of August when the festival in honour of the patron saints - San Cosme and San Damian (Los Santos Medicos) was in full swing with a small funfair, outdoor dancing to live bands, religious and other parades and processions, massive communal meals. It culminated on Monday lunchtime with huge paella, sangria and beer on the village. The final "event" seems to be little old ladies throwing buckets of water over young men! Brilliant - oh, and tapas free in all the bars.
Google map: bit.ly/mwz59b
The most friendly and comfortable hotel you could wish for, with great views, top class food and a wonderful pool. Feel like part of the family. Walk ancient and historical mule trails with expert guides, learn how to paint, or simply sit and enjoy the luxury. A bit of magic in rural Andalucía.
Canillas de Albaida, Malaga 29755
+34 95 203 0444
These two traditional Spanish houses are 2,200ft up in the gorgeous Andalucian mountains and offer rare peace and quiet for writers. You wake every morning to blue skies and stunning views across almond trees and olive groves. The ancient village of Comares is within walking distance and is the highest pueblos blancos in the area. It has the remains of a Moorish fort, great restaurants and incredible views down to the sea. Every year on the penultimate Saturday of July, there is a festival of the local 'Verdiales' music, where the men huddle together to play guitars and violins, while the women in costume dance around them. This hidden gem is far more authentic than the tourist-filled Ronda or Granada.
Located in the heart of the Somme, five minutes from Newfoundland Park, I have nothing but praise for this fantastic, rural, privately owned guest house, tea rooms and history centre. As one of a party of 12, we were all thrilled by the homely welcome, accommodation and excellent food.
Owner Avril Williams, her son and his partner run this well-oiled operation and they certainly put their heart and soul into it. If you plan to stay, the accommodation is spacious, comfortable and there is plenty of room to relax in the lounge.
Being 'true-Brits' we all enjoyed our English breakfast complete with free-range eggs straight from Avril's own hens. Being a farmyard, Avril also has a number of sheep, cats, and a dog; but we were stunned to hear from Avril herself how one customer complained because of the "sheep poo" in the garden! Some people ...
The garden contains a section of genuine World War One trench which was excavated by the Royal Air Force Regiment and there are many finds displayed around the tea-rooms, house and in Ocean Villa's excellent private museum. With an entrance to the cellars of the old, war-time house directly from the trench and garden, Ocean Villas seeps you in the history of this important historical wartime site. On the cellar walls it is possible to read the WW1 graffiti left behind over 100 years ago. Many of the solders who left their mark have been identified and Avril can tell you the story of them all.
Across the road is Avril's Great War museum which (and I have visited most of them) is possibly the best privately-owned museum on the whole of the Somme. It is a must-see whether you drop in to the Tea Rooms or not.
Thank you Avril, this was a holiday and a half!
This Bed & Breakfast offers wonderfully friendly accommodation with optional evening dinners close to St Cere. The rooms are very comfortable and well decorated but it is the hosts that make this place worth visiting. Nothing is too much for them and the evening dinners are delicious (they provide vegetarian meals for those who want them). It is a renovated farmhouse in a beautiful location perfect for exploring the area around St Cere and the Dordogne Valley. Excellent value.
Tucked away in the south easternmost corner of Spain, in a remote valley in Cabo de Gata national park, surrounded only by desert hills and sea, is El Jardin de los Suenos - the Garden of Dreams. This little oasis, a short walk from the village of Rodalquilar, is an old farm that's been converted into a boutique B&B by an expat German photographer and his wife.
It's a break from the norm: you won't get obsequious staff fawning over you, room service is non-existent, the rooms are more functional than luxurious, and it's strictly not for families. It's charm is in it's isolation, the quaintness of the converted farm buildings and the beautiful gardens and views.
We chose to stay here for a few nights after a family wedding further up the coast. At first we thought the enforced isolation might become boring but having no distractions bar sitting by the pool, reading under an olive tree, or sunbathing at the nearby "clothing optional" beach, turned this into the most relaxing break we've ever had.
There are distractions for those who still need them: it is excellent walking country, the village of Rodalquilar contains a fascinating mining museum as well as a handful of restaurants, the bustling harbour town of San José makes for a pleasant evening, and further afield are the sets where many spaghetti westerns were made.
However for seekers of peace and tranquility like ourselves, these are mere distractions from the main appeal of El Jardin: the chance to escape from the modern world and dream.
This is a bed and breakfast in the wonderful Highland countryside. A hidden gem, with fantastic views, food and wonderful hosts.
Bacon and eggs with fresh Tanzanian coffee cannot get better than this. Kingfishers, herons, storks, sun birds, rollers, hippos, crocodiles. You will share your early morning with them all, enveloped by the astounding landscape of Ruaha National Park in Southern Tanzania. An AfrikaAfrika Safaris guide will spot each and every fascinating creature, revealing the scene in its full glory. This lesser known park offers an astounding array of wildlife as well as a range of bio zones that dazzle in their variety. Baobabs, those wise, ancient trees, punctuate the vista. Breathtaking
Padang Padang Surf Camp is a place that provides lessons and guiding for experienced surfers, mainly around areas of the Bukit peninsular in the south of Bali, but also in other parts of the island too.
The surf guides and instructors have been surfing the various places in Bali for years and years so you get to surf the best place each day.
The accommodation was half-board which included a proper breakfast (not just cereal and toast) and some amazing traditional Balinese inspired lunches.
The camp was very laid back yet extremely well-run so a perfect place to both relax and ensure that you get the most out of your time there.
The staff were all very friendly and competent, all the way from the instructors to the kitchen staff and I'll definitely be visiting again in the future.
The Garni Hotel Konak is situated on the edge of the old town with easy access by taxi (10 Bosnian Marks from the bus station). It is very clean and modern with extremely helpful, friendly and pleasant staff. A few metres away on the opposite side of the road is Sartours, an excellent, highly informative (they are very passionate about their city) and inexpensive family run tour guide agency. We had an excellent 20th century tour in their own car.
Alhama de Granada is one of the most beautiful locations in Spain, in the fertile land of the Poniente Grandadino in Southern Andalucia. This is the 'real' Spain - incredible light, authentic fabulous food, great people and hardly any English spoken. It isn’t far from the airport at Malaga, but it is a million miles from the pubs and full English breakfasts on the coast. There are churches, lovely squares, a spectacular gorge, a red Moorish fort, an Arabic quarter, fresh food shops and 38 cafe bars and restaurants all in easy walking distance. Perched nearly a thousand metres above sea level on the edge of Tajos Gorge. Famous throughout Spain for the thermal baths - hot therapeutic water bubbles up in to four thermal pools next to the river. 12km from town is the spectacular Bermajales lake with sandy beaches. There is great walking, sailing, abseiling, kayaking, quad biking, mountain biking and skiing activities all within easy reach of the town. Granada and the spectacular Alhambra are a mere 45 minutes car drive or an hour on the bus. There are a number of good quality yet inexpensive hotels and hostels in the town.
I spent a week in Morocco, and while I was in Marrakech, Riad Dar Najat, was for me a great attraction.
The Riad is beautiful, nicely decorated, the kind of place where you know the owners take care of every detail with great care.
The staff were very friendly, and made me feel at home. It's very special the way you are treated.
The food is another attraction. Delicious, delicious!
And about the location, very important: it's very easy to get there, and go to Djema El Fna, with no possibility of missing the way.
So, everything is perfect! Totally recommend!
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