In October, 2013, my wife and I traveled throughout Portugal and Spain. We originally planned to stay in Arcos de La Frontera or Ronda, south of Seville; but, we had not found a place that was...just right. Sound familiar?
Because we were heading to Lisbon from Toledo, we looked in northern Andalusia to shorten our drive. We did not want to stay in a big city—although we wanted to be day-trip distance from Seville. So, we started looking in the wonderful Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Nature Reserve.
You know the drill: You spend endless hours cross-checking Rick Steves, Michelin, Tripadvisor, and so forth and then, suddenly, you stumble upon the perfect place. In his review below, our new friend “Andrew F” described our lucky find, La Casa Noble, better than we can. It is, indeed, a “beautifully restored and welcoming home with lots of character and style” located in a “small Andalusian mountain village.”
It has taken us a month of reflection to find words to add to Andrew’s review. Finally, it dawned on us that we need to write about Andrew himself—and Melanie and Rafael and the waitress at El Rincón de Juan and about the beautiful and welcoming people that we met in Aracena, Spain.
The most rewarding reason to travel has been discussed from Homer to Michener to Steves: meeting people. In Homer’s time, greeting strangers was structured as a deep part of the culture to be expected by a stranger in a foreign land. In its essence, it was xenia—the expectation that a guest would be treated as a friend. Michener, in Iberia, said that "anything good I have written" stems from a random encounter in "some village out in the country" where he could "spend a couple of days just sitting and looking and talking." Rick’s back door travel philosophy suggests that good travel requires “meeting and communicating with the people, not relying on service with a purchased smile.”
We are all social creatures. We need to connect. The experience that will endure is one that flows from friendships, especially those which lead to some understanding of another culture. Now, Andrew is originally from Scotland and England. Melanie (the owner of La Casa Noble who, beyond xenia, treated us as friends) is from Australia. Rafael is a native of Andalusia. They shared great stories about their travels…and about themselves. They shared their manzanilla sherry from Cádiz and they shared their prized jamón (from the noble black Ibérico pig) and we all shared tapas together at El Rincón and it was wonderful. Serendipitous, as Melanie said.
We were enjoying our pig cheeks (and all manner of other delicacies which somehow kept pouring out of that tiny corner bar like clowns from an impossibly small circus car) and I was trying to order another bottle of Ribera Del Duero wine from the pretty, young waitress. My Spanish was all too rusty and my Andalusian dialect non-existent. Go figure what I said. It doesn’t really matter; but, the waitress, and then all of us, started laughing. No purchased smiles here.
Why is it that I often forget Rome or London or Madrid...but never La Morra or Oban or Aracena? What I will always remember about La Casa Noble is how sharing good times—and little moments of laughter—with new friends meant that a part of me would always somehow be left behind in the white hills of that “small Andalusian mountain village."
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- “La Casa Noble” is a true oasis of luxury in the Andalusian village of Aracena. Frescoed walls, hand-painted tiles, wrought iron balustrades and handcrafted chestnut doors invite you to enter. Each of its six suites has been individually decorated and features ensuite bathrooms, imported pillow-top mattresses, high thread-count linens, plush towels and Molton Brown bath products to create the perfect blend of old world charm and modern comfort. Designed with an adult clientele in mind, La Casa Noble is the perfect place to disconnect from the hustle and bustle and reconnect with your inner peace. Specializing in intimate groups of friends and romantic escapes we encourage you to “Indulge in the luxury and tranquility of this most noble house”. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with TripOnline SA, Evoline ltd and HotelQuickly so you can book your La Casa Noble reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.