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“A piece of Flamenco heaven”

Escuela Carmen de las Cuevas
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Founded in 1984 as first Spanish School in Granada, Carmen de las Cuevas is the ideal place to learn Spanish and dive into the fascinating world of flamenco: the Spanish Language school is acknowledged by the Instituto Cervantes as well as a leading Flamenco Center. The school buidling is a charming maze of caves, staircases, terraces and rooms and located facing the Alhambra, in the quarter Albayzin declared by the UNESCO as a cultural heritage site, a historic neighbourhood in Granada widely recognised for its beauty, history, and architecture.
Reviewed 5 March 2013

Carmen de Las Cuevas holds a place very dear in my heart. This charmingly situated school in the old, Arabic quarter of Granada has a special magic that enchants all who attend. I had a truly unforgettable time and learnt so much. The staff of both the Spanish language department and the Flamenco dance and music department are top class and made learning extremely enjoyable. The environment is friendly and enthusiastic and the admin staff are wonderful. They made every effort to make my stay as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. There was a great mix of students from different countries and of varying ages. My teenage daughter came too and she absolutely loved the teachers and atmosphere. The only complaint is that the accommodation is a bit run down and could do with some renovation in basic areas. Also if you choose to stay in their shared accommodation, be aware that it is mixed male and female, which may be an issue for some people. However if you let the school know that you prefer female only dorms, the staff will make a big effort to organize that if it's possible. Apart from that, it is a wonderful school in a beautiful place and I really look forward to my next stay!!! Venga!! Hasta luego!!!

Thank Kirsty M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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62 - 66 of 123 reviews

Reviewed 6 December 2012

For several years now Carmen de las Cuevas has offered me a rich cultural experience that I continue to embrace. From the very helpful and friendly office staff to the incredible artists who teach there, this school offers the highest quality of flamenco dance and Spanish studies that one could ever ask for. The school and housing located in the historic and beautiful Albaicin are affordable with terraces and views of the mountains and the Alhambra. The residents are warm and friendly, and the neighborhood & night life are exciting and fun. I look forward to returning next year to experience once again the rich authenticity of the culture, learning the art form from professionals whom I highly respect, to see those I now consider to be my flamenco family, and to enjoy the place I now consider as my home away from home.

1  Thank Carmen C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 October 2012

I went to Carmen de las Cuevas in 2002 and 2003 and again nearly ten years later in 2011 and 2012. Those 4 visits rank as some of the best holidays I ever had. This was not only due to the beautiful city and the nice and interesting people I met each time (I am still in contact with some of them) but for a large part it was because of the staff of the school: The people who work at the service desk were and still are extremely friendly and incredibly helpful and do everything to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. Every question, every request you ask them, they respond with the greatest amount of helpfulness. Amazingly, I find that they constantly improve their services: Over the years they have implemented more and more things to make the stay for everybody as convenient as possible (and I was already very satisfied with the organization during my first stay!). In the last 2 years I took Spanish classes: I liked the classes a lot and the teachers had a very good way with their students, especially with “hard cases” e.g. students who hardly spoke or others who did not want to shut up ;-). They knew how to handle them with a pointedly yet fun tone. We always had a cheerful atmosphere in our classes. Last but not least of my reasons why I definitely will return to Carmen de las Cuevas is the unique location of the school with its rooms carved in the mountain in the tradition of the gypsy homes in Sacromonte and the most spectacular views from its 5 (!) terraces. I spent many hours on the top terrace reading a book, doing homework or writing postcards. Looking forward to doing it again…

1  Thank Annette S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 August 2012

I've spent 3 months in the school with the extended program, and studied spanish and flamenco guitar. Excellent school in both regards, with no comparison whatsoever in the World, I may say. I've also studied Spanish in Babylon and flamenco guitar in Talleur Flamenco in Sevilla. I must say that Carmen de las Cuevas beats both of them. The staff in the office is friendly and very helpful, teachers are patient, truly amazing professionist, the location is unique (ancient "cuevas" digged in the rock :)) and I left the school speaking Spanish and playing several Flamenco compas on my guitar.
The school might seem a bit expensive, but it's worth every penny. I strongly recommend it.

2  Thank superbaloo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2012

As a high school Spanish teacher, I was looking to spend a few weeks in Spain this summer practicing my language skills and enjoying the Spanish culture and lifestyle. In looking on the Instituto Cervantes website, I had 100's of choices. Having been to Granada in the past, I knew that I wanted to further explore this charming city. There were a number of language schools I could have chosen, but once I found Carmen de las Cuevas, I knew that my search was over. I was looking to take a few language courses, but was interested in taking part in a few courses that I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to here in the States. I signed up for the half intensive grammar course for 3 weeks, the half intensive conversation course for 1 week, a 1 week beginner flamenco course and the horseback riding course for 1 week.

Upon my arrival, the school had arranged for me to stay at a hotel within walking distance. I stayed at Hotel Macia Plaza and besides the fact that I was in a smoking room, the hotel itself was wonderful. Very friendly staff and centrally located. The next morning, I walked to the school (uphill, LOTS of hills here in the city!) and when I arrived, I was greeted by Carmen as well as all of the other new students. There was an introduction given by Carmen and she filled us in on all of the essentials. The school provides you with maps, basic info about the city and school, cultural activities going on through the school as well as within the city, a map to your lodging, etc., etc., etc. Anything and everything you need to know is available through the school. The women in the office are some of the most friendly and helpful people that I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. In planning my trip, I worked with Marilyn and she couldn't have been more patient with me, answering every question I had and putting to rest all of my fears of the unknown. During my stay, I also had the pleasure of working with Ana and Estrella, both wonderful women as well. Everyone working in the office will gladly help you whenever you need it with whatever you need.

My classes were amazing. Being a teacher myself, I was in awe at the expertise of the staff at the school. They are exceptional teachers with wonderful dispositions. They strive to teach you correct Spanish grammar while at the same time educating you in the colloquialisms of the region and "how to sound like a native Spaniard". Cecilia, my grammar instructor for 2 weeks, was exactly what I needed when I started. She helped calm my nerves and put me at ease. Traveling for the first time by myself, it was a rough adjustment at first. But knowing that I could go to the school and see my teachers and fellow traveling friends helped me get through that rough period. Cecilia is knowledgeable and has a really friendly approach. I also worked for 1 week with Maria, another very knowledgeable and energetic teacher. Similar to Cecilia, both women incorporated grammar into daily discussions on topics we were interested in and could identify with. I purchased the grammar text and plan on using it in my own classroom this coming fall. It is a wonderful text with lots of realia and modern connections to the students. My conversation class was wonderful as well. Working with Alberto, affectionately knows as "El Guapo", was a treat. He is younger than all of the other teachers and because of that, he is able to bring you a different opinion, a younger, more modern opinion of the Spanish lifestyle and culture. He is entertaining and works grammar into the discussion as well. Overall, I think the language and culture teachers at Carmen de las Cuevas are exceptional.

My flamenco course was terrific. Being a total novice, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the small group I worked with made me feel comfortable with my lack of skills. Our instructor for the week was Mari Carmen. It is obvious she is an expert in the field. Her knowledge of the dance as well as her skills as an instructor are evident as even I became a "bailaora" by the end of the week. It was not easy, but she took it slowly and had patience with us. We learned all about the 4 "pasos", "compas", the different types of dances, which steps go with which dances and of course, the arm movements (the toughest part!!). It was a really fun way to immerse myself in some of the culture of the city and to get a glimpse of how good those dancers who I watched perform live, really are. Taking a flamenco course really helps you appreciate the dedication these dancers must have.

I also took the horseback riding course. Upon completion of the course, I suggested that the school re-write the description that it gives on the website. While I enjoyed it and got to spend some time in a mountain town, it was not what I expected. The equestrian center is a wonderful place and the staff is amazing. Very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. This is not an hour long course, however. You need to plan close to an hour of travel time there, 3-4 hours at the center itself and another hour or so of travel time home. Upon arrival in Dilar, you will walk about 15 minutes to the center. It is expected that you fully participate in everything that goes into horseback riding. Including grooming the horses (brushing them, cleaning their hooves, etc.), dressing them, proper technique while riding the horse (including how to hold the reins, how to trot, gallop, mount and dismount, etc.) and then how to undress the horse, bathe it, clean it and put it back into it's stall. If these things are not something you are interested in, you should not take this course. It is fully expected that after the first day of initial training, when you arrive the second day, you "take the reins" so to speak. I enjoyed it, but it is a big time commitment and necessitates a shower when you get home. :) Overall, if horses are something you are interested in, this is the place to be. It was a great experience.

The lodging that the school arranged for me was perfect. It was just outside the Albayzin and at night, I didn't want to walk home by myself. It wasn't that where my apartment was was unsafe, but it was a little bit on the outskirts, so I made sure to be careful at night. During the day, it was completely fine, I felt safe outside walking the streets to and from wherever I was going. The apartment was huge, 3 actual bedrooms, 1 with a queen, 1 with 2 singles and then a downstairs bedroom that wasn't set up as a bedroom but easily could have been. We had a kitchen (complete with washing machine), a small living room and an ample sized bathroom. For the price, you really can't go wrong. I never felt unsafe while in the apartment. Plenty of locks on the doors and decorative bars on the windows. The only downer was the fact that it was easily over 100 degrees during my stay and the apartment didn't have air conditioning. Thanks goodness for fans!!! The kitchen did have an ant issue, but as soon as I mentioned it to the staff in the office at the school, it was taken care of. The wi-fi wasn't the greatest, the signal was in and out, but for the majority of my stay, it was functioning. And again, when it wasn't, all I had to do was mention it and someone was out to reset it immediately.

The cultural programs that are run through the school were interesting to me, however, the ones I was interested in, didn't end up running because there weren't enough students signed up. However, there are weekend tours that the school offers (through a local tour company), that I would HIGHLY recommend. I went on one tour to Nerja and another to the Alpujarras. Both tours were interesting, the guides were knowledgeable and fun and it was a great way for me to spend a Saturday. I learned a great deal (thanks to the wonderful guides) and was able to see a part of the country I wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to. I got to meet students from other schools and really enjoyed my time spent with the group. Again, I HIGHLY recommend going on at least one of these tours.

Overall, my 3 weeks spent in Granada would have been poorly spent if not for Carmen de las Cuevas. The school itself is phenomenal and a wonderful place to learn language, flamenco and how to be a true member of the Andalusian society. The staff at the school is fantastic and I would recommend this school to anyone interested in anything this school has to offer. Something to note, everything is taught in Spanish (language courses, flamenco course, even the horseback riding course), so if your Spanish skills are lacking, it is important to know that you will get lots of practice improving your skills. As a high school Spanish teacher, I was looking to speak as much Spanish as possible, but there were other students who would struggle from time to time because of their lack of knowledge of the language. Just be up for the challenge! I met other students who had attended other language schools throughout Europe and was told that Carmen de las Cuevas is by far the best they had seen. PLEASE, don't hesitate to contact me with any questions. As you can tell by my review, I loved my experience and am happy to share any other insights.

4  Thank Maggie W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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