My wife and I just got back to the US after spending three weeks in Europe. We were in five different countries, in big cities, in rural areas, at touristy places, off the beaten track. We have both traveled quite extensively and seen and been to a number of places. Tapaluz, I have to say, is something special.
It is run by two Belgians, Jean and Luc. They worked for many years as the personal butler and personal chef, respectively, for one of the richest women in the world. They were based with her in France, but traveled around the world to her various personal homes, and finally chose to start their own B&B to have a slower, less stressful pace of life. They searched Malta, the Canary Islands, and other locations for just the right place to start their B&B. They finally found it on a mountain top, off a steep gravel road, in the mountains of southern Andalusia. What they have done is created a beautiful, tranquil, world apart for their patrons. When you walk through the gates of Tapaluz, it is like stepping out of the hectic, busy, frenetic everyday world into another time and another place.
The major activity you engage in at Tapaluz is relaxation. The rooms have beautiful, amazing beds in them--the bed in their large suite cost them 8,000 Euro and they had it brought in from Belgium. My wife and I had their smallest room--it was the only one available--and it was unbelievably cozy. The bed, too, was wonderful, and there was a mosquito net to sleep under if we worried about being attacked in our sleep. The bathroom was great, with a fantastic shower. All of the water you use has been filtered four times.
The place is just incredibly well thought out. Everywhere you look, there are so many little, wonderful things, small little accents here or there, which point to a very beautiful and thoughtful mind at work in setting the place up. They basically bought the top half of a mountain and they created a little escape from the world. There are different places at Tapaluz for you to sit and relax and read. You can move to a different place as the day moves along--essentially, following the shade as it shifts to different places on the property.
They have planted fruit trees and grapevines and lavender everywhere. We were encouraged to eat the grapes, given a nutcracker to crack almonds, and pick the plums and eat them. The smell of the lavender is wonderful. The sight of the heavy, sagging grapes, hanging from trellises or just outside your door, is magical.
There is a saltwater swimming pool which is great to get into or to sit next to and just read. You can stand in the pool and look out over a beautiful valley, at the mountains across the way. It's an ethereal experience.
Tapaluz is an aesthetic experience. At the center of that experience is food: Luc is a magician in the kitchen. It is like having your own Michelin-quality chef working for you and a few other guests (they have a maximum of three or maybe four rooms available). There are two meals to be had there: breakfast and dinner. Dinner is served at 7:30. Breakfast is served from 8-10.
Luc bakes all the breads--there are a number of different kinds--fresh every morning. They are _perfect_. There is fresh, homemade yogurt, too, and fresh jams (the week before we came, he had made 100 kg of homemade strawberry jams). The meats are delicious (they buy their meat, fresh, from upscale places in malaga). The orange juice is freshly squeezed, too. They bring you a large pot of coffee (or tea), according to your choosing. There are fresh-cut fruits to be had, too. You can get an egg if you want, but we could barely finish all the food that we had brought to us as it already was. Jean serves you (hand and foot). If you need a parasol, he will bring one out for you.
You eat on a small terrace with young palm trees on it and a softly bubbling fountain in the middle. The terrace dramatically overlooks a valley and out onto the mountains across the way. It is a stunning view. In the shade of a parasol (or in the evening, as the sun is setting) even if it is warm outside, it is still pleasant.
The dinners are spectacular. Just amazing. The amount of attention to detail and the craftsmanship are amazing. I asked Jean why they don't try for a Michelin star. He told me that they don't want the stress; they like being able to work in laid-back clothes and keep things nice and informal. With Michelin, they would have to dress differently and it would add pressure and stress into their lives; they have already had that when they worked for the super-rich French woman.
The meals cost 39 euros per person; they are definitely worth it.
As you eat, Luc plays music from a playlist he has. Our first night there, it was so perfect, that my wife started crying. She just couldn't believe the place and how wonderful it was.
These guys will spoil you. They really will. Jean charms the guests in English, in French, in Flemish, in German. He also speaks Spanish. This is your chance to be treated like one of the world's super-rich...for a few days. Tapaluz is a place where people in the hospitality industry come themselves to relax and get away from it all. They are superfriendly. My wife loves cooking and started to talk to Luc about how he does things. He showed her his kitchen; we may try to go back so she can do a cooking course with her. He would have let her come and watch him prepare a meal, but by the time we had overcome shyness to ask, it was too late! Maybe next time!
The china and silverware you eat off of is antique and Luc buys it in France, where he hunts for good pieces at various sales. We were eating off of things, I think, that were 150 years old. My wife loved it.
Tapaluz is a perfect romantic getaway. We definitely want to go back. My wife had mixed feelings about us putting a review up on Tripadvisor about it because she was worried that if too much word gets out, it will make it impossible to get a room there: already, I think they are pretty full on a regular basis! If you think you want to go, I would write to them immediately and book a room.
If you do want to go, my advice is also to ask them to arrange a pick-up. Tapaluz is located at the top of a steep gravel road in a small mountain village (Solano) and it can be very confusing to get there. If you do not arrange a pick up (it will cost something like 50 euros from the Malaga airport), then be sure to have a phone that you can call them from once you get to Colmenar, the biggest nearby town, and they can give you directions how to get there. If/when we do it next, we will have them pick us up. That's the easiest way to go.
Tapaluz is aimed specifically at people who appreciate exceptional food and who are looking for relaxation and tranquility. Going there sort of ruined the rest of our trip--it made staying everywhere else and eating anything else...something of a let-down.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are offering our guests, peace and tranquility, stunning views, and a very good kitchen of our Belgian chef, who cooked for well known people in famous restaurants around the world.Room prices:Standard room: € 90Suite: € 120Junior suite: € 100 ... more less