What an amazing year 2020 has been. Everybody has been affected in one way or another, for worse or the worst. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, an untold number, especially as we head into the´festive season.´ Our lives will never be the same and I, like many, am not sad to rush this year over and look to 2021 for hope, sanity and a vaccination.
As you can imagine trips were crazily curtailed this year but we did manage two getaways to two lovely B&Bs both in Malaga province. Which ones?
Villa Andalucia run by Helen Hares just a few minutes walk from the town of Cómpeta in the Axarquia region of Malaga.
Finca Gordo run by Dutch photographer Peter Laarakker and his wife Marina just outside Riogordo to the of the Montes de Malaga.
Both these guest houses, set in gorgeous locations with far reaching views, served fabulous breakfast spreads to set you up for days of exploring the area from coast to mountains.
Wherever your future trips take you I wish all the best for you in this coming year and if you stay at one of the lovely locations you find on these pages I would love to hear from you and about your experience, I´m contactable via the About page.
What will 2021 bring for Only Spain? Ahh, that would be telling but there are a few exciting new places to visit so keep coming back to see where we have travelled to – when we can.
What better way to learn something new is there than staying at a lovely, owner run hotel or Bed and Breakfast which run classes or courses. In this post I have put together some of our beautiful establishments that run holidays for different activities.
Hotels in Andalucia and Valencia running Cookery Courses and Classes
Finca Las Encinas Gourmet B&B is a lovely, rustic stay just to relax and enjoy Chef Clive´s cooking or take part in preparing your own dinner with bespoke classes and courses. Finca Las Encinas.
Hotel La Gastrocasa, the name says it all! This small adults only hotel also offers cooking classes, mainly for local dishes Hotel La Gastrocasa
Walking Holiday Hotels in Andalucia
The gorgeous little eco-friendly Hotel Los Castaños runs 3, 5 or 7 day self-guided walking holidays. Planned routes, great food, pick up if you get lost or too tired! What more could you want? Hotel Los Castaños.
Photography Holidays and Classes in Malaga, Andalucia
At the beautiful, little B&B Finca Gordo professional photographer Peter Laarakker offers photography days in groups or individual classes. Check out this lovely stay with great food and a breakfast to keep you going all day. Finca Gordo B&B.
Popping up everywhere are these new logos ´Andalucia Segura´but what are they all about?
This particular one above is for accommodation there are others for beaches, restaurants, golf, spas, active tourism etc.
These distinctive signs, which are free and voluntary, identify the businesses that comply with the security measures pertaining to Covid-19 to give a guarantee to the public that the World Health Organisation regulations are being complied with.
Many of the establishments on our site have attained this distinction so that their customers know and feel that every precaution possible has been taken to ensure their safety in respect to this outbreak facing us all.
Well what started off as a rather strange year has continued in the same way and here we are heading rapidly into Autumn with things pretty much the same.
Perhaps we´re a bit wiser, definitely we are a bit older but life goes on while mask-wearing (and removal at every opportunity.)
Travel has pretty much taken a back seat, no choice in that matter, yet we did manage to go and visit the lovely Villa Andalucia B&B on the edge of the charming little town of Competa and met the welcoming host – Helen. Do follow the link and read about our trip and the lovely villa which Helen calls home.
Next month we have a brief escape to visit another lovely looking B&B – you´ll have to come back later in October to find out – again in Malaga province.
Fancy a peep of where we are going? Of course you do. Here it is Finca Gordo in Riofrio.
Further ahead we are not planning at the moment as who knows whether travel will be stopped again, we do hope not for all our hotels and B&Bs who need your support to keep going through these difficult times.
So on Wednesday we are in the seventh month of this, the strangest and perhaps the quickest of my 24 years in Spain. But now we are heading into July 2020, the summer heat arrived with a bang and life except the wearing of masks is more or less back to normal.
This weekend will be the first time we´ve left our province of Jaen since January. No jaunts nor road trips. So with oh so slight hesitancy we are leaving the safety of Jaén with only a few cases of Co-vid for the ´outside world.´
Where are we going? We´re heading south to the province of Malaga and town of Competa in the east of the province. It´s a town we haven´t been to before and there can´t be many of those left!
A place to relax, dine, wander, view gaze and swim while able to stroll into town and 25 minutes from the coast if you fancy a beach. We are more mountain people than beaches but a good view of the sea is always welcome.
So watch this space for a new addition to Only Spain Boutique Hotels and B&Bs, the only new addition this year so far – may it not be the last and hopefully no more lock downs will happen when there is freedom of movement between countries too. Escape from Jaen number one….
With Monday seeing us enter phase 2 of the Co-vid19 lockdown here in Jaen province, news, very uplifting after 10 weeks and many changes of plan means that it looks like we will be able to move around freely this summer.
For quite a while it looked like that was not going to happen and the slogan ´Don´t Cancel, Postpone´has been all over the media since the beginning of the shut down in March.
Many, many businesses, not only small hotels and Bed and Breakfasts have been feeling the pinch and with the uncertainty of whether they would open for this summer season hanging overhead too.
Casas de la Juderia, Cordoba
Cortijo del Arte
La Casa Grande de Zujaira
So if you haven´t already made plans now is the time to support those small hotels, make plans and keep these lovely little establishments open and running. I see many have been making the most of the time to do alterations and decorating so it is with pleasure that I am again able to plan ahead. I´m not sharing yet which beautiful little place is the first on my list, it is a surprise and will be a gorgeous addition to our portfolio which has sadly not been updated for quite a while, not only the fault of lock down but the busyness of life!
Let´s hope that during the rest of this year there is not one but several new and beautiful establishments added. As always I plan with pleasure and so look forward to meeting and greeting both new hosts and their lovely homes.
I´ve also added some new photos to my local B&B which now has a pool so why not pop over to Atelier 88 to see some new images. Enjoy.
We’re very happy to have been included in a write up by Andrew Forbes in an article entitled ‘The Eight Andalusian Hotels not to be Missed’ published in Sur in English.
Andrew and I met at the amazing La Nava an exclusive, elusive, private estate but I’d been following him and his antics for a while. I was honoured when he asked my advice for his round up of one hotel per province in Andalucia and as my home province of Jaen is the one least known to him and most people he came to me for my advice.
Hotel Balcon de Cordoba, Cordoba
Finca la Fronda
So for the eight Andalusian provinces which ones were chosen? That is the big question…. here we go in alphabetical order
Almeria – La Joya de Cabo de Gata, this one is on my list to visit.
For our Christmas present hubby and I decided we wanted to do something not buy presents so we booked to walk the Caminito del Rey in Malaga province again. We went about 3 year ago with 3 sons and 2 girlfriends. We fancied going alone, not keeping tabs on members of the group. So on a not very bright January 4th we put on our boots, hairnet and helmet to walk the King’s Walkway. If you haven’t been – you should. If you haven’t a clue what it is read on.
The stunning views and incredible feat of engineering of The King’s Little Footpath near El Chorro in Malaga province is not for those with vertigo. Originally a narrow footpath on the sheer cliff face for worker’s access, it fell into disrepair but still attracted a large number of dare-devils to walk it before being closed down.
After four years of restoration, in most cases completely rebuilding, this exciting and dramatic walkway, in places 105 metres above the river, is completely safe but gives you the feeling of doing something thrilling. Dramatic gorges, tumbling river it really is nature at its most jaw-droppingly best.
The whole walk is three kilometres long and takes 2 – 3 hours depending on your speed and how many photos you stop to take! Comfortable shoes, water and warm clothes are needed, depending on the time of year, this is a gorge, the sun doesn’t get to all parts and the wind can be nippy too.
We enjoyed our experience just as much the second time around and only two minutes down the road to home hubby said ‘I could do that again.’ I agreed with him but on another day….
Tickets are limited and must be booked in advance. Some hotels in the area offer deals on a night stay with entrance to the Walkway included. We stayed in the lovely (but not boutique) Hotel Casa Grande in Burgo over half an hour from the walk entrance but a beautiful (as is all of inland Andalucia) drive through the mountains.
As much as we don’t really like to repeat where we have been (the world and even Spain is too big for that) we will probably at some point return to walk the Walkway – as you can see even on a grey day it is spectacular and it may just be addictive!
Well December has arrived but my climbing rose doesn’t seem to realise and is blooming and budding again. Nice and cheery, certainly not as profuse as its spring flowering but should I tell it that it is almost winter now?
Red Roses taken on 1st December, Jaen, Spain
Friday night saw hubby and I on our last escape of 2019, except the works Christmas ‘do’ in Fuengirola, does that count? This being our first year working with Inland Andalucia estate agents in the Martos office up in the north of Andalucia in my home province of Jaen.
I keep saying one of my favourite cities, I seem to have a lot but this one really is special! Granada touches my soul. The steep, narrow, characterful and full of characters Albaicin area is one I can explore and explore. I think I could live there – if I had to live in a city. On this trip we actually got to drive the car into the ancient area of the Albaicin to get to the hotel car parking, think ‘No Entry’ signs that you ignore and automatic bollards that you hope will stay down!
Practising Guitar on Mirador de San Nicolas with Alhambra Views
The gorgeous, ancient Hotel Santa Isabel la Real is right next to the monastery of the same name. A beautiful small hotel with an wooden-gallery patio. Charm and warmth, cosiness and age mellow into one delightful little place to stay. Family owned, lovely staff, good breakfast, big comfortable bed and shutters onto our internal patio window, as well as a bar crawl up and down those streets for supper meant one of the best nights sleep I’d had in a long while.
Hotel Isabel la Real, Granda
So, keep watching this space – very soon Hotel Santa Isabel la Real will be live on Only Spain, the last one for this year. I’m plotting and planning, researching and drooling over some fabulous little places to stay for the coming year – Let’s see what 2020 brings and roll on spring time! I am not a fan of winter at all. The roses are helping though!
Many of the lovely establishments we have here on Only Spain do weddings on a small scale so we were delighted when an American wedding planner got in touch and asked if we would partner with them.
September and October saw them visiting several of our hotels and travelling around Spain. Not only do they plan wedding but they also plan and advise on any type of holiday and especially anniversary and special occasion trips. So that is the latest news and we look forward to working with them and introducing more hotels and Bed and Breakfasts to them.
The not so great news is that the clocks have gone back, the hours of daylight decreased and we’re rapidly heading into what isn’t my particular favourite time of year. Saying that we took a brief escape this weekend to a small city I like very much – Guadix. We didn’t stay at Hotel Abentofail but went in for a pre dinner glass of local wine. It is a lovely little hotel and it was great to be back there, if only briefly.
So what is next? A little reminiscing first – it is crazily over a year ago now since we headed across almost to the Portuguese border and the lovely Finca la Fronda and the town of Aracena from where we have lots of great memories, even more photos and my well-loved leather handbag in use nearly every day came from.
Next? I fancy heading coast-ward and investigating another hotel or two down Malaga way. As much as I love the mountains and olive groves where I live for an escape at this time of the year I like to head to warmer climes.