Spotlight on Andalucia: Eight provinces and Nine wonderful places to stay
The vast country of Spain is divided into 17 self governing regions which in turn have individual provinces. Andalucia, right at the bottom of the country abutting the oceans and with Morocco closer than Madrid is the countries biggest region and one that’s full of history, culture, natural beauty and a diverse population. Its eight provinces are highly individual and each has its own unique attractions but they share the Andalucian warmth of spirit. The Further Afield collection has somewhere for you to stay in each of the provinces as you explore the lesser known corners of Andalucia.
Home to Europe’s only official desert, Almeria has a soft, sandy wind blown kind of feel to it. The Desierto de Tabernas (above) is an incredible sight and you can explore the areas used to film some of the Spaghetti Westerns as well discover sparsely populated coastline and the Cabo de Gata national park. The capital city has a decent urban vibe but is accessible and friendly too.
Where to stay in Almería province: Casa Caballito de Mar, Bédar
Just two suites in this intimate and quirky guest house make for a peaceful haven. In the small village of Bédar you’re inland from some of the more populous spots, like fun Mojacar, with a truly Spanish vibe. Carol and Steve’s gourmet trip made it into The Times’ favourite Spanish holidays for 2020, with very good reason.
2: Cadiz province
At the tip of the country Cadiz feels almost South American in parts, and interestingly Christopher Columbus used its capital to set sail from on his voyages of discovery. Its largest city is Jerez de la Frontera which is famous as the birthplace of sherry, but its true highlight is the Costa de la Luz which stretches along the Atlantic and takes in surf Mecca Tarifa as well as hilltop Vejer de la Frontera.
Where to stay in Cadiz province: Casa Shelley, Vejer de la Frontera
We’ve three amazing places to stay in and around Vejer de la Frontera; country house B&B La Casa del Torero , boutique hotel Hotel V… and our choice, Casa Shelley, right in its heart. There are just seven individually styled rooms, most of which have private terraces or balconies. The town is full of fantastic eateries – check out foodie fanatic Annie B’s blog on her favourite places to eat – and is close to stunning beaches like Concil, a firmly Spanish beach town.
3: Córdoba province
There are few parts of the world where history is so visible than in the city of Córdoba with its Roman, Visigoth, Moorish and Christian heart worn very much on its sleeve. The Mezquita, a cathedral built within a mosque, is a world heritage site and is a truly stunning building. But venture out of the city and the province has some of the most incredibly varied countryside of caves and mountains, olive groves and river gorges. One particularly beautiful area is Sierras Subbéticas, home to Priego de Cordoba and Zuheros, both worth a visit.
Where to stay in Cordoba province: Casa Olea, Priego de Cordoba
Tim and Claire’s restored farmhouse is one of the region’s most established and celebrated boutique guest houses. Open for 10 years it has garnered superb reviews and it’s easy to see why. Set in rolling olive groves with easy access to amazing countryside activities as well as city day trips, Casa Olea is also a bit of a destination in its own right. Beautiful pool, great food, top notch beds. Happy days.
4: Granada province
Think Granada and you’ll probably think of the The Alhambra, above. One of the world’s most visited sights this Moorish jewel sits, presiding over the ancient university city with the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada behind it. The city could fill a week, but when you take the time to leave the cobbled streets and tapas bars there’s an amazingly varied landscape to explore with little trodden walking routes and even skiing in the winter.
Where to stay in Granada Province: Casa Higueras, Moclin
We’ve several wonderfully different places to stay in Granada province, including the family run Hotel Palacio de Los Navas in the city centre or Cortijo Opazo up in the hills above the city, but sticking to small guest houses check out Ian and Andrew’s Casa Higueras. Your stay here allows you to glean from your hosts’ knowledge and love of the landscape, culture and food of this quiet and beautiful corner of Andalucia.
5. Huelva province
This is one of the lesser known corners of Andalucia, which makes it all the more special. It’s so uniquely Spanish in its feel that you truly feel like you’re a million miles from the stereotypes of the Costas. There are important natural parks, like the Doñana which is home to the rarely seen Iberian lynx, as well as towns like Sanlúcar de Barrameda (above), close to which it’s possible to nip over to Portugal for the day. But there’s also vast cork forests webbed with pathways for walking and cycling and some superb horse riding available.
Where to stay in Huelva province: Molino Rio Alajar, Aracena
This collection of stone built cottages in the Sierra de Aracena natural park are 100% Spanish in their feel, but it’s a feel perhaps more reminiscent of the rugged north than the sun kissed south. Self contained they are of various sizes and share a pool and tennis court. They’re truly off the beaten track and offer an amazing escape from the “real” world, but are well located to explore the region.
6: Jaén province
This is one of the land locked provinces of Andalucia, but what it lacks in coastline it makes up for with stunning landscape and fascinating cities. The cities of Úbeda (with its Hospital de Santiago above) and Baeza are both UNESCO recognised and showcase the wealth of Spain post the reconquest from the Moors and are home to superb architecture and culinary delights. Head out of the cities and the olive groves seem to go on for ever and reach out to the national parks full of wooded valleys and green spaces.
Where to stay in Jaén province: Atelier 88, Alcala La Real
After a day’s exploring imagine heading back to relax by this rather lovely pool. With space for six this is a superb Spanish town house B&B. Tucked away in the residential streets close to the centre of Alcala La Real, Atelier 88 is a stylish and hugely individual Spanish guesthouse. There’s vinyl to play and an honesty bar to utilise as you laze by the pool listening to your chosen grooves.
7: Malaga province
Long overlooked and dismissed as a tacky tourist Mecca, Malaga province has been having a resurgence of late. Its capital city has become a centre of cultural importance with fascinating museums and a great restaurant culture. But as the province spreads itself along the coast and up into the hills, that’s where you find some true magical hidden gems, alongside better known highlights such as Ronda. The El Torcal national park close to the city of Antequera (above) is simply stunning and the wineries of the region are also becoming increasingly popular with many offering tours and tastings. The coastline around Nerja is dotted with quiet coves and traditional fishing villages for those looking for some quieter beach time.
Where to stay in Malaga province
With such a diverse landscape we’ve some amazing places to stay like Casa Blanca in the coastal village of Maro, but we’ve chosen two unique and stylish Andaluican “Casa rurales”:
Inland Malaga province: Almohalla 51, Archidona
Less than hour from the coast and surrounded by truly beautiful Andalucian countryside is the white washed town of Archidona. On its edge, with views to the ruined Moorish castle, is this boutique guest house or holiday villa. Five lovely rooms complimented by patios and a plunge pool.
Coastal Malaga province: Almijara Residence, Competa
Less than 30 minutes and you can be on the beach when you stay in Competa but within a few minutes you can be out walking the hillsides. Maurice and Paul’s Almijara Residence is a fun, relaxed and comfortable boutique Spanish guest house in the heart of the town. After a day on the beach wind your way back up to the hotel and start your evening off with cocktail on the terrace taking in the sunset.
8: Seville Province
Home to the Andalucian capital of Seville, this is a province of history and elegance. The city makes for a stunning couple of days exploring its laneways and riverside avenues before sampling the city’s culinary offerings which are superb. Head just outside the city and explore the ancient ruins of Roman Itálica – really it’s amazing.
Where to stay in Seville province: Corral del Rey, Seville
A slight break from the smaller guest houses we’ve included up until now, Corral del Rey is the definition of a boutique hotel. Family owned and run there’s a lovely intimate vibe to this stunning townhouse hotel. It’s tucked away down a quiet street but it’s just a few minutes walk from the cathedral and the Alcazar. Read more about a weekend in Seville