Casa Shelley – an idyllic Andalucian guest house
Stylish, spacious, full of light and character, Casa Shelley in Andalucia’s stunning Vejer de la Frontera is a truly beautiful boutique guesthouse. Myles, one of people on the ground, shares his thoughts on a stay with Chris and Javier.
An escape to a quieter place
The overriding feeling whilst staying at Casa Shelly is of peace. Peace and tranquility, pure and simple.
It exudes from every corner of the house; the light that pours in from the glassed atrium ceiling in the main entrance hall, the comfortable soft furniture that adorns the reading room, the stylish faded French grey décor that goes perfectly with the antique style ̈hidráulico ̈ tiles that were once a feature of every grand house in Andalucía, the sound of swallows, sparrows and blackbirds singing from the patio, even the church bells were soothing.
I needed some peace and I ́d found it. Vejer, listed as one of the prettiest towns in Spain, is an old white frontier town, and quite hilly, and much is pedestrianised (which helps towards that sensation of peace!). Casa Shelly is right in the heart of the old town, up a traditional cobbled narrow street not far from the church. There is a drop off zone just 60 meters from the house and there is garage where you can park up just 250mts away. It ́s actually quite nice to put the car keys away and just let your feet do the moving. I ́d been driving around quite a bit, and had decided not to drive up and drop off my bags but park at the bottom of town and walk instead and get a feel for the place.
A welcome retreat
I was met by owner Chris who welcomed me in, arranged the necessary housekeeping and took me through a local map and pointed out key places to note. Chris then kindly helped me with my bags up to Room 4 and left me to investigate. I was delighted to see that I had a private terrace and a rooftop view up to the church tower. Two of the rooms in Casa Shelly have private terraces. There are seven rooms in total one of them is a single.
The room itself was very comfortable with high beamed ceilings and a large elegantly designed, polished cement walk-in shower and separate toilet and sink. For me it ́s all in the detail and this room didn ́t disappoint. A good sleep is tantamount to a successful stay and they have invested in excellent beds and linen; there was the choice of hard or soft pillows…..a basic that even many high end hotel chains just don ́t get right, a couple of expandable luggage racks so you ́re not falling over your bags, a safe, complimentary water, and even a couple of chocolates …..small things but they make a difference. Oh, and great cosmetics in the well-stocked bathroom. All of the rooms are uniquely designed and every space and nook have been maximized and used to give a feeling of space and character. I was able to take a look at some other rooms and they were all beautifully appointed.
After unpacking and freshening up I took myself out for a wander. There are lots of windy and narrow streets to explore that would be shaded and cool in the summer but my time here was spring and they felt warm and cosy. Vejer is quite a large town and deserves some exploring even if you get lost in the backstreets (no Baedeker required here!) From the northern side you get views of sweeping fields, hills and wind turbines, and from the Jewish quarter in the south you can see across to the other side of the town and beyond to the Atlantic coastal beaches of Barbate and El Palmar.
A feast for the palate Spanish style
There are plenty of places to choose from to eat or have a drink in, with some more tourist focused and others more traditional (I also checked out Annie B’s brilliant blog about Vejer’s foodie meccas) I found somewhere in the middle, by no means over-priced and with a smattering of locals and tourists. I took a seat in the sun at La Ventana Taberna, just a short walk from Casa Shelly and chose the cuttlefish croquets, and pureed avocado on rye toast with Cantabrian anchovies, along with a couple of glasses of Albariño. It was reasonably priced and the service was very good.
For dinner I chose to eat in El Paneque in Plaza de España (above) which is patronized by locals and offers home cooked tapas, both hot and cold, and a surprisingly good wine offering. After some albóndigas (meat balls) salpicón (cured squid and prawn salad) and a couple of glasses of Ribera Roble it was time to head back to Casa Shelly. I was then able to experience what I had been looking forward to; yes, the bed! Needless to say, I slept incredibly well.
They don ́t provide breakfast per sé, but there are plenty of places very near where you can enjoy a local breakfast to set you up for the day. They do however provide complimentary tea, coffee, fruit and muffins so you can at least munch on something first thing in the morning to help you get on your way.
Going further afield
There ́s plenty of countryside to enjoy in and around Vejer if you fancy exploring further especially if you like walking, and a real treat is the coast at El Palmar (above) just a short drive away. Cows graze as you trundle down dirt tracks to the beach and what meets you here is one of the finest examples of pure virgin Atlantic beach in Spain. Popular with surfers and nature lovers alike, these unspoiled dunes and wide-open sands could be in Australia or The Pacific North West. Bring a book or a surf board, a bike or just take it in. There aren ́t many places like this left. This area of the world is special. It ́s genuine, authentic, real and peaceful, unlike many other coastal areas, and has been treated by locals and visitors with respect and sensibility; not unlike Casa Shelly, which really is a must when you visit Andalucía.
Casa Shelly opens mid – February until early November
Prices start from €80 per night inc tax.