“A congenial, intimate and good-value guesthouse in the unspoilt Sierra Subbética's vast olive belt, ideal for walkers and foodies”
The 6 bedrooms are on the first floor, reached via a lofty stairwell whose vast picture window frames the most sylvan of valley views. Doors, windows, tables, wardrobes and desks were fashioned by local craftsmen, as were the ceramic name plaques for each room: they take their names from the trees that grow on the farm. Decorative artefacts have been kept to a minimum in keeping with Tim's 'less is more' philosophy: a brightly-coloured Guatemalan huipil (embroidered shirt) as a wall hanging, a framed collage of photographs from Rajasthan, ceramic pots from Peru and Mexico, a plain green door hung picture-like above a bed. The overall vibe is slightly monastic and very relaxing.
All beds can be made up as twins or super-kingsize doubles. Expect Egyptian cotton bedding, air conditioning, and underfloor heating in both bedroom and bathroom. Towels are provided, along with ecological toiletries in refillable dispensers.
Olivo (Olive) faces southwest along the valley and is the only room with a private terrace. It has a rain shower but no bath. Nogal (Walnut) looks out to the tree of its name and has the biggest bathroom of all, with a separate tub and shower. Membrillo (Quince) is a light-infused room with 2 high French windows, twin balconies, and a bath topped by a high rain shower.
My favourite rooms were those facing the leafy course of the river. Of these, Granado (Pomegranate) and Higuera (Fig) have showers only, whilst big and airy Almendro, where I stayed, has a tub and an overhead shower. It has one balconied French window opening out towards the river and a second framing a hilltop Moorish tower, with antique washboards serving as a backdrop to the beds.
Three rooms - Membrillo, Nogal and Almendro - can accommodate an extra bed so are ideal for parents travelling with a child or 3 solo travellers.
The airy dining room and bar take centre stage at Casa Olea, and the culinary offering reflects the same TLC that has been lavished on the rest of the house.
A buffet breakfast is laid out between 8.30 and 10am; whenever the weather allows tables are set up on the terrace, among birdsong and dappled light. There are cold cuts, local cheeses, sliced tomatoes, cereals, yoghurts, masses of fruit, boxed juices, the best ground coffee and a selection of teas, as well as Claire's homemade jams, cakes and biscuits.
Simple picnics can be made up for lunch, and dinner is served 5-6 nights a week (days vary according to demand). Most evenings you choose between 2 starters and 2 mains - one of which is always a veggie option - followed by a surprise dessert prepared fresh on the day by Claire. You might get gazpacho, leak and bean salad, tomato with chorizo, or feta with roasted peppers. On one evening Claire prepares a huge paella, and on another there’s a more informal supper of tablas (platters) of meats and cheeses. Dinner really comes into its own when it's warm enough to eat outside, accompanied by flickering lanterns and the occasional hoot of an owl.
Tim will be on hand to help you choose your wine: a ceramic map in the dining room depicts the different wine regions of Spain and speaks of his interest in things oenological. Local bodegas take pride of place in his selection.
When dinner isn't available at the guesthouse, you'll find some great little restaurants within a 15-minute drive. In Priego de Córdoba, La Noria, in a pretty square next to the castle, is the top choice for traditional cuisine. In the picture-perfect village of Zagrilla La Fuente has oodles of local flavour and homecooked food of the slow variety.
No children under the age of 7 are allowed, except when the whole house is booked. Three of the 6 rooms (Membrillo, Nogal and Almendro) are large enough for an extra bed. Older children will enjoy exploring the hills by bike.
Teens (over 12)
Extra Beds Available