Barcelo La Bobadilla

Near Loja, Malaga & Cordoba, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Luxurious country estate in the Sierra de Loja where the high arts of pampering are practised with flair
A 3km private drive sweeps you up through olive groves to this gorgeous collection of whitewashed buildings. It has the feel of an Alhambra-in-white, set on the crest of a small hill with the sun-washed Sierra de Loja all around you encircling a magical, hidden kingdom.

Walk up to the main house and a serene courtyard welcomes you; water runs in the fountain and the scent of rosemary and jasmine fills the air. This beguiling jumble of volumes feels centuries old yet is a mere babe in arms: 25 years ago there was only a lowly farmhouse here. Now the style is smart, rural and timeless, with soaring brick arches in a marble hall, terracotta rooftops tumbling down hill, a bell tower in the courtyard - there's even a private chapel. Wonderful rooms have balconies or terraces, a huge shimmering pool lazes in a bowl of lush lawn, 350 hectares of private estate wrap around you. Tracks and trails lead out into it, so choose your mode of transport - foot, horse, bicycle - and set out to discover your own Xanadu.

Highs

  • Luxury, peace and natural beauty all entwined, 3km up a private drive. The finest hotel in Andalucia?
  • When we revisited in 2015 we loved that there was so much to do: on-site activities, local excursions, a pampering spa and acres of grounds
  • Families are very welcome - kids' club, pool and menus, farm animals and games room
  • Big luxurious rooms all have private balconies or terraces
  • Three good restaurants, all with excellent, friendly service

Lows

  • Larger and more corporate than our usual hotels; easy to get disoriented amid the rambling floor plan
  • The large outdoor pool is open seasonally (May and September)
  • You'll need a hire-car to get here, but you probably won't use it that much
  • If you want to eat out, it's a bit of a hike to get anywhere
  • Popular for weddings - if you're not part of the party, you may feel left out

Best time to go

Apri, May, June, September and October are the most pleasant months - warm and usually sunny. It's worth knowing that temperatures in July and August can hit 40 degrees.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 83
  • 3 restaurants + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 2 Nov 2015 - 25 Feb 2016
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The big, plush bedrooms give you what the price tag demands: an overdose of luxury. Some rooms have a contemporary style (fresh colours, clean lines, no clutter), others are more traditional with pastel colours, big wicker chairs and padded headboards, but all come with a private balcony, terrace or garden, so you can throw open the doors and relax in the sun. Space is abundant and rooms get lots of light, but all have shutters to keep them cool.

Classic Deluxes have space for armchairs, but we went for one of the huge Junior Suites where we got sofas, antique tables and chairs, and terracotta-tiled floors. The Suites have even more lebensraum. Some open onto an exquisitely-tiled interior courtyard where a fountain sings (and in which the housekeeper leaves flowers floating daily). The more you spend, the more you get, and the top-end Suite Deluxes all come with 2 bedrooms, an open fire and something to elate: a domed ceiling, a hand-carved wooden bedstead or a gigantic bathroom with views across open country. Oddly, they're also the only category in which tea- and coffee-making facilities are provided. Since our visit, the Superior Deluxe rooms have been added, aimed squarely at couples, we're yet to personally view them.

Bathrooms are excellent, most are huge and every detail is catered for: bathrobes and slippers, lotions and potions, big bathtubs and separate showers, and fluffy white towels coming out of your ears. Whilst some of the ritzy, silver and gold bathroom fittings look a tad dated, they are, nonetheless, top of the range.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

There are 3 on-site restaurants, all of which are overseen by attentive, friendly and helpful staff.

For a sense of occasion, La Finca Restaurant serves superb Mediterranean-fusion cuisine (with prices to match). Our starter of scallop served on a savoury pop-corn cake with caramelised Mencal wine and nutty caviar from Rio Frío, was a culinary tour de force. One part of the restaurant has huge views over fields of olive trees - the fruit and oil of which you can eat in the restaurant.

We also dined in the more rustic, Spanish-influenced El Cortijo Restaurant, where we dug into mixed croquettes (simple and delicious), a chicken and mushroom main course (slightly underwhelming), and a waiter-recommended ‘Leche Frita’ pudding (yummy fried custard with thyme honey, mango sauce and vanilla ice cream). Fine Iberian ham is a speciality and an extensive wine list caters for all.

La Plaza offers a great-value lunch menu of authentic tapas, gazpacho, salads, sizeable sarnies and paella, as well as early evening drinks and snacks - try the local ale. In summer, the El Mirador Chill Out Bar serves evening cocktails overlooking the pool.

Breakfast - a feast of pastries, fruits and cooked options - is served anywhere you choose. If you want it in your room it’s served on a starched white tablecloth with a vase of fresh flowers. Nothing here is done by halves and you can expect to be looked after in style.

Expect all meals at La Bobadilla to be accompanied by soft, piped guitar music: it feels relaxing, or mildly irritating, according to where your musical sympathies lie.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • La Bobadilla is wrapped in 350 hectares of private farm land; all of which is yours to roam, be it on foot (hiking maps and picnics can be provided), on horseback (the hotel has its own stables), or on mountain bikes (5-25km trails available). A rich migratory bird life passes through, so bring your binoculars and a field guide
  • The beguiling cities of Cordoba and Granada are both about an hour’s drive and utterly unmissable - full of dazzling Moorish architecture and ancient culture
  • The hotel can arrange Helicopter tours, light aircraft jaunts and hot-air ballooning (as far as the Alhambra, if you want); they can also book tee times at Antequera's golf course (35km)
  • A schedule of free on-site activities including martial arts (Qi Gon, Tai Chi), tasting sessions (olive, olive oil, wine) and walking tours are available 5 days a week
  • The manicured lawns and gardens have a huge lagoon-style pool (1,500 sq.m.) with a high-flying central fountain (open May-Sept only). The area is sprinkled with palm trees, parasols and loungers; a higher terrace holds Balinese beds
  • There's an opulent spa complex with indoor heated swimming-pool, thermic loungers, sauna, Turkish steam bath, hydro-massage tubs, gym and solarium, massages and beauty treatments
  • Finally, come to get married here; lots of people do - they even have their own chapel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Swimming
  • Tennis

Kids

Set within a vast 350-acre plot, Bobadilla's wealth of facilities and inclusive atmosphere make it perfect for families.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Book a Suite Deluxe to get a double bedroom and separate twin room, plus space for extra beds; the Junior Suites and Suites are best for families with one child. Most rooms can hold a baby cot and every bathroom has a bathtub and shower.

Babysitting:

English-speaking babysitting available by arrangement (although it can be expensive), and the summer kids' club affords extra adult-time.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Food blenders for guest use

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Creche/Kid's Club:

The hotel's free Mini-Club runs from mid-July until late-August, allowing parents to enjoy a lazy brunch, spa treatments or a child-free dinner.

Children's meals:

The hotel's restaurants have a good children’s menu full of favourites like spaghetti, ravioli, chicken breast, swordfish, burgers and sausages with chips and salad.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids pool and outdoor pool
  • Indoor spa pool (restricted times and usage is charged)
  • Outdoor playground
  • Farm animals and a lake with turtles
  • Horse riding and guided pony rides
  • Badminton
  • Games room (pool table and game station)
  • Kids DVDs
  • Mountain biking
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis courts
  • Petanque

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Lobo wolf park, Antequera (50km away)

Distances:

  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 25 minutes
  • Doctor: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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