If ‘Cortijo Las Rosas’ was a novel it would fall under the ‘magical realism’ genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world.
The impressive owners have created a beautiful and idyllic rural haven in Andalucia, it’s probably the most peaceful, tranquil and divine hideaway in Spain. The lovingly renovated farmhouse and delightful casitas are situated in a breathtaking location cradled deep in the ancient olive groves that fill the region and are adorned amongst bulbous & burgeoning fig trees (even pomegranates, I believe). There is an abundant scent of lavender that subtly pervades the pathways and terrace, where swallows glide, dive and sequentially skim for a welcome drink from the exquisite swimming pool which overlooks a stunning valley; intricately stitched and woven with olive groves. This is the perfect retreat, an enchanting and ‘magical’ place to relax and unwind – truly a slice of paradise!
Gilly and Marylynne are not only two of the most extraordinary and magnificent women you’ll ever meet, but adorable sisters in arms – literally! They are the astounding owners, who energetically and effortlessly manage Las Rosas, which is clearly lovingly well maintained and runs like clockwork. They made us feel incredibly welcome from the off and are extremely attentive hosts who care deeply that you enjoy your time and stay; nothing is too much trouble! They’re tremendous fun, so kind, thoughtful, extremely witty and utterly charming. They’re enthusiasm simply knows no bounds (I can only dream of having that kind of boundless energy in my prime!)
The dual focus and friendly advice is invaluable, both immersed in Spanish culture, they are extremely knowledgeable on not only when and where to visit, but how to navigate yourselves there. These women really know they’re stuff! Both were extremely helpful and accommodating in guiding us and they seemed uncannily able to gauge just what we needed (or did not) at any given time; excursion, adventure, relaxation – appearing with guides, maps and further literature with an almost sixth sense! Right from the start, you know you’re in very good hands. You sense they probably have the capacity to solve the current global economic crisis between them!
Las Rosas’ location is a fantastic starting point to tour the Subbetica de Cordoba region; our day trips and excursions included: Cordoba (World Heritage Site), Priego de Cordoba, Zuheros and Granada (the Albayzin). We have stayed in Antequera before and highly recommend El Torcal natural reserve where there are some of the most beautiful and impressive limestone landscapes in Europe - it really is otherworldly! Also, approaching Iznajar you have an incredibly dramatic setting, when you first glimpse the Embalse de Iznajar; the largest lake in the whole of Andalucia, which is frequented throughout the warm season as a beach. Each casita has plenty of guides and a comprehensive instruction book containing good routes, clear road directions and very useful tips on parking.
The property boasts three superb casitas with private entrances and the facilities are excellent. We stayed in Casita Galgo and savoured every minute of it! The accommodation itself was top notch, very comfortable, immaculately clean and fantastically well equipped; combining many home comforts with traditional touches and bright fabrics. There is a delightful private courtyard with jasmine, potted plants and a built-in BBQ. The bedroom on the ground floor is lovely and cool with comfortable beds and has a well-proportioned ensuite bathroom.
The upstairs living / kitchen area has stunning views across the valley and captures the sunset (and sunrise, if you’re early risers). The kitchen is well conceived and brilliantly kitted-out, there’s simply everything a cook would need (bar a tagine), but then it’s a long way from Tunbridge Wells and slow cooking! Opt for the abundant and generous ‘welcome pack’ (exceptionally good value at 20 euros), it provides all the essentials and much, much more besides. They also ply you with delicious virgin olive oil from the local cooperative.
Simply spend time basking in the sun, lazing, dozing, lolling about or reading under a parasol by the beautifully situated pool overlooking the olive groves. It’s spectacular by the pool at night; either lit or unlit, just gazing under the vast myriad of stars and constellations dancing and winking at you (look out for shooting stars in July & August). It’s blissfully quiet by day and night, with the sounds of swallows and crickets only interrupted by the popping of a cork (or two!) from the poolside fridge/freezer. A perfect setting to enjoy a glass of cava, sip fine wine or try Gilly’s own summer tipple (cerveza and ginger ale, which makes for a delicious bittersweet Spanish lemonade) Salud!
One of the most pleasurable and ‘magical’ holiday experiences ever – we had an incredible time and felt so bereft on departing that we’re already planning an autumnal break in October 2012; madly scouting for flights only after a couple of days back in UK. We’re very much looking forward to a snug bolt-hole, lit wood-burning stove, day trips to the Alhambra, Sierra Nervada and a unique dining experience at Casa Piolas in Algarinejo with a gastronomic tour-de-force – yum, yum!
My last bit of advice, if you’re planning an Andalucian holiday and ‘Cortijo Las Rosas’ is on the list, look no further. Like an extraordinary novel – you’ll fall in love with it, definitely want to delve in again and revisit… its compelling and magnifique!