B bou – Boutique Hotels in Andalucia

Hotel Molino del Arco, Ronda

B bou Hotels director and co-founder Maria Herrero is awarded the first woman to be awarded the Premio Andalucia de Turismo, a well-deserved prize for the best business person and a driving force behind  B bou Hotels the new Spanish Boutique Hotel group whose motto is ‘harmony and passion.’

Hotel La Viñuela & Spa, Viñuela, Malaga

Hotel La Viñuela & Spa  the flagship hotel in a lovely  area of inland Malaga, next to a lake of the same name, is now joined by three more beautiful and stylish hotels making up the gorgeous B bou portfolio of four hotels in Andalucia.

Hotel Cortijo Bravo

The B bou hotels – Be boutique – are located in some unique parts of southern Spain, both inland and on the coast and this lovely collection comprises:

Hotel La Viñuela & Spa in Viñuela, inland Malaga

Hotel Cortijo Bravo in Velez-Malaga, Malaga coast

Hotel Molino del Arco in Ronda, inland Malaga

Hotel Casa Romana in  Sevilla city

Hotel Casa Romana, Sevilla

Harmony and passion flows across every aspect of the hotels, decor, sevice and gastronomy . Each hotel has its own identity and in the kitchens locally sourced ingredients are paired with traditional dishes of the area which are then carefully prepared with harmony and passion.

Visit their website to read more about B bou and each of their hotels.

All images in this post are courtesy of  B bou Hotels  and José Salto.


Best Spa Hotels of the World in Spain

The collection of Best Spa Hotels of the World has two fabulous hotels in Spain, let’s take a peek at behind their doors to see why they are part of this great portfolio.

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa

With forty  rooms and villas Hacienda Zorita on the edge of the famous university town of Salamanca and the impressive River Duero has lovely views. Once a Domincan monastery, its contemporary interior design compliments the solid 700 year-old structure and its long history of hospitality together with today’s modern amenities provides a graceful and elegant yet peaceful and comtemplative escape.

Hacienda Zorita Wine Hotel & Spa

Hacienda Zorita  was brought back to life, after a long slow decline, as the home of Marques de la Concordia family of wines and now restored to its former glory with modern installations it’s now owned by The Hacienda’s Company, and is part of Small Luxury Hotels collection.

See Hotel Zorita on Best Spa HotelsHotel Zorita on Best Spa Hotels


Hotel Peralada Wine Hotel & Golf

Fifteen minutes from the Costa  Brava coast and in the middle of a golf course the 56 rooms offer fabulous views in peaceful surroundings. The innovative spa offers a wide range of treatments many of which are grape/wine based. What about a grape oil massage or a four-hand massage?

Hotel Peralada Wine & Golf

An ideal away break for golf lover and spa lovers, sharing both experiences or each to their own.

See Hotel Peralada on Best Spa Hotels 

El Palacio de San Benito

El Palacio de San Benito

The Palacio de San Benito is a luxurious place to stay. In the small mountain town of Cazalla de la Sierra about an hours drive from Seville airport through lovely, quiet country roads and scenery reminiscent of the English countryside but with bright blue sky.

El Palacio de San Benito, Cazalla, Sevilla

A private home and converted palace/church make a palatial and welcoming retreat. It’s museum-like decor and time-warped bedrooms bring on thoughts of Pride and Prejudice, lace and crinolines, I didn’t want to leave.

Stay for a night as in a hotel, come for a special meal or family celebration or rent the entire property for your use complete with staff for a private ceremony or family get together.

El Palacio de San Benito, Cazalla, Sevilla

Once you walk through the ancient wooden door and see the gorgeous arched and plant filled patio with trickling fountains, architectural features and lovely old ceramic tiles you’ll be sold. You’ll want to sit and relax. Be drawn into the peace it oozes and shut out the world of today.


Charm, style and oodles of character make this just up my street. Dark wooden beams, hefty, cushion-filled sofas and my own tiny patio with its own water feature. I could have moved in or at least stayed long enough to relax and read some of the book collection in the amazing library complete with hand painted ceiling beams.


My room for the night was Del Infante, the baby’s or child’s room, with four-poster bed festooned with bright chintz and a cot to match. Needless to say I  didn’t need the cot and haven’t needed one for nearly twenty years and actually it’s adults-only, adding to its peace and quiet.



Comfortable on the sofa I perused some interesting sale and antique magazines before taking a spot of air on my small private patio.

El Palacio de San Benito

Part of the original church, now a fabulous dining room with hand-painted walls, hosts dinner parties and private functions in very elegant style.

El Palacio de San Benito

The Palacio de San Benito is a unique stay. Gorgeous, eccentric and definitely worth putting on your list.



Bib Gourmand Restaurants in Spain 2016

Having recently visited the lovely small white town of Cazalla de la Sierra to stay in the very charming and unique El Palacio de San Benito we arrived early to explore the town and have lunch before checking in.  To our very pleasant surprise we stumbled across  Restaurant Agustina and both hubby and I immediately knew we’d found our lunch spot, even before we’d noticed the Bib Gourmand seal of approval.

Restaurante Agustina

A quick glance and the menu and we sat ourselves down opposite the restaurant on a charming plaza with a road between us, if there’s a choice of sitting outside (in the shade) we do. I didn’t even go inside the restaurant, not even for a nose, very unlike and remiss of me.

Restaurante Agustina

It was to be a light lunch as it was early for us which made the mouth-watering menu choosing quite tricky and not very speedy. Into our second beer I’d narrowed it down to two starters and hubby chose a non-written choice of Pork Loin with a touch of Mustard.

Restaurante Agustina

I only photographed mine! The top photo a starter – Atun Marinada en ‘Algo Picantito’ con ensalada de alga ‘wacame’ y sesame and the second  a dish to share – Ensalada de Codorniz en Escabeche con Vinagreta de jinibre.

A very edible lunch with some interesting dishes, it got me thinking about how many and where the other Bib Gourmand restaurants were in  Andalucia and so here is the list  and I’ll definitely be looking out for some of these on my travels.

Bib Gourmand Restaurants in Andalucia

Agua  Amarga-  Asador La Chumbera

Almodovar del Rio – La Taberna

Almuñecar – El Chaleco

Cadiz – Sopranis

Cazalla de la Sierra – Agustina

Cazorla Meson -Leandro

Cordoba – El Envero

Cordoba – La Lonja

Fuengirola – Girol

Jerez de la Frontera – La Carbona

Linares – Canela en Rama

Linares – Los Sentidos

Linares de la Sierra – Arrieros

Malaga – Café de Paris

Malaga – Figón de Juan

Marbella – Bibo

Medina sidonia-  El Duque

Medina Sidonia – Venta La Duquesa

Monachil – La Cantina de Diego

Montellano – Deli

Los Palacios y Villafranca – Manolo Mayo

Priego de Cordoba – Balcon del Adarve

Puente Genil – Casa Pedro

Puerto Real – La Curiosidad de Mauro Barreiro

Sanlucar de Barrameda – Casa Bigote

Sevilla-  AzcZait

Sevilla – El Gallinero de Sandra

Ubeda – Amaranto

Ubeda – Cantina La Estacion

Ubeda Zeitum – Vera Juan Moreno




Two Great Castle Hotels in Spain

These two lovely castle hotels are in Malaga province, Andalucia one overlooking Malaga town and port with the Mediterranean Sea as its backdrop. The other in the mountain town of  Monda not far inland from the coast of Marbella.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina

Wind up from the coast, through a now residential area, and you’ll discover this old summer palace/mansion built on the site of a castle with some romantic ruins within the grounds.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina, Malaga

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina was built by King Phillip IV in 1624 as part of the city’s defences but it didn’t survive long and by the early 20th century the fortress was in ruins. Manuel Loring, Count of Mieres and local of Malaga  had a summer residence built next to it to catch those cooling sea breezes in the heat of July and August.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina, Malaga

French architects Levard and Lahalle designed the neo-Arabian style palace which now sits overlooking the bay of Malaga. It was named Castillo de Santa Catalina and is now a 4* star hotel maintaining many original aspects, now shabby-chic decor and of course those fabulous views from its heyday.

With only eight rooms you really do feel like the king of the castle here, we barely saw another guest on our stay.

Hotel Castillo de Monda

Climb up from the coast into the mountains and you’ll find lots of small towns but the most impressive is the town of Monda with its castle atop and town almost surrounding it. The castle with its origins in the IX century was conquered by the Catholic Kings and ordered to be pulled down in 1485 but it wasn’t until an uprising in 1568 that it was practically raised to the ground.

Hotel Castillo de Monda, Malaga

These days there is very  little of the original structure to be seen but the Castle today was designed in a traditional style. The hotel entrance is accessed by a high entry gate and pretty patio, all 25 rooms have lovely views and the salt pool, bar and restaurant on the top floor even better ones.

Hotel Castillo de Monda, Malaga

This is a privately managed hotel and offers relaxation, spa treatments, we had the salt pool to ourselves and it has a very good restaurant so there’s no need to leave your castle at all.


Read my review of Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina

See Hotel Castillo de Monda on my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels site




Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important

Why are some hotel breakfasts so bad? I just have to say….

Breakfast is something I can take  or leave at home. Nothing special, important yes but a banquet no. There’s never time. So when away, for me the breakfast really is the make or break of a great hotel. It’s often my last impression as we eat and leave. It’s the way for hotels to really sing and dance but often it’s very disappointing.

Hotel La Gastocasa Breakfast

Hotel La Gastocasa

A great hotel, and I presume most hotels want to be great at what they provide, have to lay on a finale – the final spread. So why don’t they? How often have you looked over the selection and felt let down?  With no real desire to eat because it’s so uninspiring. What about the coffee machine? Does it grumble like an old man? Take ages? And then the coffee is just plain awful.

Hotel Viento 10
Hotel Viento 10

For larger hotels, yes it’s more difficult but I’m talking about those small, boutique, charming hotels that forget their charm in the morning, like a lover who sneaks out in the night.

Hotel Los Castaños
Hotel Los Castaños

What does it for me? Juice has to be juice. Freshly squeezed. Personally grapefruit or orange or the chance to have a mixture. I don’t want bacon and eggs but hubby would if on offer and freshly cooked but not when congealing and cold.

A choice of wholemeal bread and a toaster that doesn’t take forever then spit the toast out or loose it at the back. Extra virgen olive oil, fresh tomatoes preferably grated,  a choice of chopped fruit  and good coffee, made to order or maybe an Earl Grey tea (but I often have a tea bag with me.)


Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important – to me. Are they to you? Please leave a comment and  let me know what you think and/or some great and not so great breakfasts you’ve experienced.

The Hotel Breakfasts in the photos are ones I paricularly enjoyed and the hotels are on my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels site. I’ve linked each to its page below.

Hotel Viento 10, Cordoba

Hotel La Gastrocasa, Gandia

Hotel Los Castaños, Malaga

See my post on Two Great Small Hotels.

Avila and Hotel Valderrabanos

My first to visit to Avila was one of pure surprise and delight. Having chosen a hotel within the city walls  our ( with hubby ) explorations began. Normally I research and vaguely plan what to do when heading to a new place, plot the must-sees, maybe the odd good eating place or two, this time it’d been so busy I hadn’t looked at anything.

City Walls, Avila

Our drive was long but Spanish roads inland are often very quiet and nearly always have great views. On arriving in Avila our first sighting of the city walls was a ‘wow’ moment. We had many more. The huge city walls which are intact stretch 2km or so around the old city and most surprising after living in the heat of Andalucia, and in summer, was grass. Outside the walls were carpets of deep, green grass, something we miss being English. What a fabulous contrast that bright blue sky and green, green grass.

City Walls, Avila

As Avila is the highest city in Spain you can imagine the views from the city walls are pretty impressive, they are. Walking the ramparts around about half of the walls is amazing. Most towers are accessible too. I tried to imagine what the inside of the city walls were like in the days the castle was needed for protection, now it’s pretty much full of buildings, and some lovely ones there are.

Hotel Valderabbanos, Avila

Hotel Valderrabanos, a XIV century palace, is right next to the cathedral in a pedestrian plaza, close to loads of fabulous monuments. The Hotel has recently undergone renovations and  the once shabby chic hotel, now  is comfortably charming, with some gorgeous original features, wide corridors, stained glass windows and gorgeous old wooden doors. I’m rather partial to ancient wooden doors.

Hotel Valderabbanos, Avila

Would I stay there again? Yes but, seeing as we rarely stay in the stay place twice because of wanting to experience other hotels too, it’s unlikely.

The main problem with this and other hotels within the city walls is the lack of parking but unloading is allowed then the car has to be taken outside the walls and parked. It is rather pleasant that vehicles are limited in the monumental areas so I can’t have it all ways I guess!


Being a moutainous area and cold in winter, we’d seen snow sticks on the access roads, one of the specialities of Avila is its huge steaks. T-bones and rump beef, pork and lamb the latter which is rather rare in Andalucia barbecued or chargrilled. These are definitely the dishes you should sample here, meat lover or not.