Carmen del Cobertizo

Granada & Sierra Nevada, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
Terrace views of the Alhambra, a tranquil garden with a plunge pool, and only 7 rooms - plus a great position in Granada's bohemian Albaicin quarter
First impressions are mixed: this carmen - in local parlance it means a grand mansion with a garden - is tucked down a narrow side street and you imagine it’s going to be small, dark and unprepossessing inside. But tug a bell pull, step through a heavy wooden door, and everything changes. Suddenly you’re in a beautifully tranquil courtyard, surrounded by tall cheese plants, ferns and white walls. It’s utterly peaceful but for the trickle of a fountain, and light floods in from the tall windows and glass ceiling. In the centre are velvet sofas and a coffee table lined with books and magazines. Up above you’re encircled by 2 sets of balustrade landings, each lined with antique furniture and bedecked in richly coloured rugs. And to your right is the leafy carmen - a peaceful garden with tables and chairs, meandering flowers and a plunge pool.

If romance brings you to Granada, book one of the 2 suites on the top floor which share a roof terrace with views of the magnificent Alhambra. It's a sun-trap by day and at night the palace walls are floodlit to beautiful effect. You’re steps from the bohemian Albaicin quarter, with its higgledy-piggledy houses and riverside cafés, and within easy walking distance of Granada’s other main sights. A hidden gem.

Highs

  • You'll get all the advantages of a big hotel (a massage room, a computer room, WiFi and excellent service) married with all the appeal of a small B&B
  • The charming owner Lorena and managers Alejandro and Nacho make a real effort to get to know you, and help you get to know Granada
  • There's a huge plunge pool in the garden: rare in the Albaicin and a godsend in summer
  • Guests staying in the suites get their own slice of roof terrace and a direct line of sight across the Daro to the Alhambra; sit and watch the ochre walls change colour as the sun goes down
  • Location, location, location: you couldn’t be better placed to explore on foot

Lows

  • There's restricted access by car and no parking nearby; you’re advised to park in a multi-storey and come on foot or in a taxi
  • There are only 7 rooms, so book well in advance
  • The décor might not appeal to all: it's homely and floral rather than chic and contemporary, but we felt that was its charm
  • Some staff have limited English - it's worth brushing up on your Spanish before you arrive

Best time to go

Any time of year. A visit to the Alhambra is extra special in the warmer months when you can also visit the palace complex at night (though not the Generalife). There is excellent walking close to the city in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and to be here in spring when the flowers are at their best is amazing. But winter visits are always memorable and to see the Alhambra with a snow-capped Sierra Nevada as backdrop is a sight never to be forgotten: even the bitterly cold winds that can blow down from the sierras don't detract from the experience.

Our top tips

Treat yourself to at least 3 nights in Granada leaving a whole day for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens and 2 more to see the city's other monuments. Even then you'll only have scratched the surface of the place.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 7
  • Breakfast only (other meals by arrangement)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 7 rooms are spread over the buiding's 3 storeys and each has something special about it. The furniture is an eclectic mix of antiques, creating a charming, homely atmosphere. Mosaic ensuite bathrooms all have walk-in showers and His'n'Her 'beauty packs'; views are of the river, garden or the Alhambra.

The 2 Suites lie on the top floor, and are undoubtedly the best rooms. For starters, they share a roof terrace with views of the Alhambra, and furthermore, they're sumptuous in size. The Alhambra Suite has a pretty white broderie anglaise bedcover, french doors, panoramic windows, a limestone floor and a selection of black and white photos above the bed. Across the hall, the Sacromonte Suite has a darker and less impressive bedroom, but the payoff is a private lounge, with velvet armchairs, a Persian rug, an antique wooden chest acting as a coffee table and a big bathroom with twin sinks set in a long run of white marble. Leading off from the bathroom a tiny, low-ceilinged (1.6m) twin bedroom with a couple of small, patio-facing windows has recently been created. It's not suitable for adults but kids would love its hidey-hole vibe.

The Cobertizo Junior Suite is slightly twee in décor - a chintzy rose bedspread and a faded velvet headboard - but its charm lies in traditional wooden shutters, pretty oil paintings and its cobertizo - the former 14th-century bridge between the hotel and the house next door. Set up as a lounge, or a space for an extra bed, it's the oldest part of the house and believed to be the oldest cobertizo in Andalucia.

The Alberca (a Superior) has pretty blue and white bedspreads and a latticed balcony overlooking the plunge pool and Alhambra, plus it's flooded with light throughout the day. Huerto and Alfarje are both light and airy rooms. Huerto (a Superior) has crisp white bedlinen, sunshine-yellow walls and shuttered windows; Alfarje (a Double) is a slightly smaller street-facing room with an intricate wooden ceiling and a bathroom with both bathtub and shower.

The 1 ground-floor room is Jardin (a Superior) which is high-ceilinged with French windows leading out to the leafy garden. The room would be perfect for families with 1 adventurous child: a near vertical ladder leads up to a single bed hoisted up on a high mezzanine platform.

Features include:

  • Air-conditioning in Suites
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Plunge pool
  • WiFi

Eating

Served in the family style dining room or, weather permitting, outside, the breakfasts are nice and hearty. Cereals, orange juice, fruit salads, hams, cheeses, black tomatoes, eggs, bacon, toast, croissants, sweet cakes, homemade jams, honey... it's a veritable feast but be aware it is a little pricey.

A recent innovation at Carmen del Cobertizo is that lunches and dinners can now be prepared by an outside caterer. Menus are matched to your own culinary brief and - to quote Lorena - can be 'anything you want'. A light supper or lunch starts at around EUR 30 whilst a gourmet dinner with wine could cost 3 or 4 times that. In house dining would really come into its own in summer when things go alfresco. Wine buffs will be delighted to discover a well-stocked bodega where, alongside top coupages from La Rioja and Ribera del Duero, you'll find flagship regional wines like Calvente or Señorio de Nevada.

If you'd prefer to venture out, there are heaps of good places to eat and drink in this university town. Right outside the door, the Albaicin district is lined with cool cafes and tapas bars or you can head to the Plaza Nueva or Bib-Rambla Square for a mix of European eateries. If you enjoy fish, check out Cunini one night; elbow your way to the bar and gesticulate towards anything that takes your fancy. Or if you're searching for Basque cuisine, make your way to the nearby Mesón El Trillo: the flagship dish is the classic bacalao al pil pil - salt cod in a rich garlic and olive oil sauce. For big chunks of superbly prepared meat the Real Asador de Castilla, a real institution in Granada, is the place, but book as soon as you hit town to avoid disappointment.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Spend a whole day at the Alhambra - the biggest surviving piece of Moorish architecture, and one of the most romantic and spectacular sights in the world. The palaces are far too special to be rushed and the Casa Real (a series of stunning salons and courts with mirror pools and columns dripping with stucco-work) will blow you away

  • At lunchtime, sneak a picnic into the Generalife gardens within the Alhambra, where you're surrounded by beautiful plants and have great views over the city

  • Chill out on the roof terrace at the hotel (if you're staying in one of the Suites) and watch the walls of the Alhambra change colour as the moon rises

  • Wander through the Albaicin quarter, a steep hillside of crumbling houses and narrow alleys. The area is delightfully bohemian: the wall by the river is lined by hippy students drinking beer, playing instruments and putting the world to rights

  • Relax in the tranquil hotel carmen, away from the hustle and bustle of town. The plunge pool will be a welcome relief in the summer heat, or you can grab a lounger for a siesta in the shade

  • Visit the tombs of the Reyes Catolicos in the gothic Capilla Real, then wander around the adjoining cathedral, which has beautiful frescoed ceilings

  • Watch the street artists - Granada is full of musicians and actors giving impromptu performances, and some are brilliant

  • Relax after a day of sightseeing with a soak and a brisk rubdown at the Al Andalus Hammam (Arab baths) or have a holistic massage at the hotel

  • Head for the snow. You can reach the ski lifts at Sol y Nieve in less than an hour from the city centre

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Well being

Kids

All ages are welcome, cots are free of charge and an extra bed in parent's room incur a small charge.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Cobertizo Junior Suite can hold an extra bed in its cobertizo, the Sacromonte Suite has a tiny twin bedroom hidden away beyond its bathroom, whilst Jardin has a spare single bed on a high platform: be aware that it is accessed by way of a steep ladder.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Carmen del Cobertizo