Carmen del Cobertizo

Granada & Sierra Nevada, Spain Book from Book from £149 per night

Terrace views of the Alhambra, a tranquil garden with a plunge pool, and only 4 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 4 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
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • 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 4 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 Family Suite Sacromonte 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 Special Double Room 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.

The 1 ground-floor room is Special Double Room 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 Family Suite Sacromonte has a tiny twin bedroom hidden away beyond its bathroom, whilst Special Double Room 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...

Based on 13 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
7/10
Food
9/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

This small hotel scores highly for its position, the great concierge service from the team , its beautiful garden and views of the Alcazaba.Breakfast for which an additional charge is made was underwhelming. We mostly ate elsewhere. The decor is quirky - a bit like an antique shop but in keeping with the lovely old hotel building.

7/10,

The location is great and the staff (Alejandro in particular) were very friendly and helpful. I can't recommend the ground floor Jardin room though - you are right by reception and on the main area of the hotel so will hear any conversation in that area and breakfast being set up in the morning. The shower is room is not pleasant with mildew and needs some maintenance/tlc - not what I would expect in this standard of hotel. The garden as well needs some care and attention. Breakfast was ok - it is relatively good value for what is available with a range of home baked goods but was a little disappointing on taste. We did enjoy a local bar (Minotauro on Carrera del Darro) if you are staying in the area - not fancy but low key, friendly and good value for the odd drink or snack.

8/10,

The service is warm, helpful and friendly when there's someone there. But one night there was a note on the reception desk stating there would be no-one there after 22:30. We came back to the hotel at 22:00 hoping to ask a question but we couldn't find anyone. At 8am the next morning, we still couldn't find a soul to ask. Other small niggles like insufficient toilet paper, and toiletries that only appeared in the bathroom on our 2nd day made us feel that it was a lovely place but overpriced.

7/10,

We enjoyed our stay at this hotel which is in a great location. However we felt the room was over priced for the size (small). Despite the fan in the room the room remained very warm. The staff were very friendly but we got the feel that they were more 'gate keepers' than managers as we got very little information when we checked in and had to ask specific questions often. We also emailed the hotel in advance to ask for them to make a dinner reservation for us and were told this had been done but actually it hadn't which caused some disappointment but got rectified eventually after we asked.

5/10,

Perfect location,home from home, made extremely welcome by everyone.

10/10,

We truly felt at home from arrival to check out; we look forward to visiting again. The hotel is in the most beautiful area of the city and very close to a very nice restaurant called El Trillo. Within a 10 minute walk you can see a lovely view of the city.

10/10,

We had a great time and would certainly recommend it to others. Nothing was too much trouble and the setting is fantastic.

9/10,

Lovely old building in a very good location. Elegant communal areas and rooms. Nice and cool interior a break from the heat outside. Refreshing plunge pool! Made to feel very welcome by extremely helpful and knowledgeable staff who gave great tips on restaurants.

10/10,

We felt completely at home, in no small part due to the gracious and helpful staff. Location was perfect, we were able to go everywhere on foot. Highly reccomneded!

9/10,

Very charming little Hotel in Granada. We particurlaly liked the little Patio with the plunge pool.

9/10,

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Rates for Carmen del Cobertizo