Casita La Terraza

Pelayo, nr Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Cosy hillside cottage on the edge of Los Alcornocales National Park with spectacular views of Morocco from the terrace (sleeps 2-3)
This little stone cottage is a great hideaway for a couple (or couple plus child) wanting to explore southern Andalucia, especially in summer. Its elevated position high above the Tarifa-Algeciras coast means cooling breezes and long views across the straits to Morocco's cloud-wreathed mountains. It started out as an annex for the owners' B&B - they live in the main house a short walk down the hill - but when their young family expanded, they closed the B&B business and (thankfully) kept the casita going as a weekly self-catering rental. Shorter stays are possible out of season, too.

But it's summer when it comes into its own - there's a lovely swimming pool hidden amongst the trees which will be all yours most of the time, shady gardens and a hammock to relax in, or you can lace up your boots and explore Los Alcornocales. Paths lead from the house through cork and oak forests to tumbling streams and flowery meadows; the sky above is a flight path for migrating birds, so bring your binoculars. It's a short drive to buzzy Tarifa, Andalucia's kite- and windsurfing capital, and to Algeciras (your nearest shops and restaurants); Gibraltar, Vejer, Jimena and the beach dunes of Bolonia are also within striking distance.


  • When we last visited, we still found the setting to be truly spectacular, with breathtaking views of Morocco from the casita's terrace
  • It's a great base from which to explore the Costa de La Luz and its beaches, returning to your little bolthole away from the crowds
  • Perfect for birdwatchers: you're right beneath the flight path of the spring and autumn migrations
  • And keen hikers will find miles of trails starting from the doorstep and leading up into Los Alcornocales park
  • In summer, it's several degrees cooler up here than on the coast


  • This is a simple, rustic cottage (as befits the price): there's no sitting room and don’t expect high-tech kitchen equipment, mosquito nets or air-conditioning
  • The pool is occasionally shared with the owners, who have young children - though they do try to ensure you have it to yourselves when you want it
  • The path to the casita is uneven - partially cobbles and partially grass
  • It can be cold in winter (there's no central heating)
  • Dogs bark in the valley (bring earplugs if sensitive)

Best time to go

The casita is at its best in the summer months. April-May is good for viewing wild flowers, June and September for warm sunshine, and July and August are hot, but not unbearable. From October-March the weather is generally cooler and can be rainy.

Bird lovers should try and coincide with one of the migrations. Northern migrations are from mid-February to June, while southerly-heading birds set off between August and early November with peak activity generally taking place in early September.

Tarifa's feria (fiesta) takes place in September. Easter is an extraordinary spectacle, too.

Our top tips

A car is pretty much essential if you want to explore the area and find places a little off the beaten track. Amy and Alistair have hosted couples who got around by bus or taxi with no problems, but there are some beautiful beaches which cannot be reached by bus.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Rustic Hideaway
  • 1-bedroom cottage
  • Self-catering; restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Casita


The casita is a lovely old stone cottage at the higher edge of the main house's garden. It has a small covered terrace at the front, giving long views over to Morocco, along with a newly built gazebo where a brightly-coloured hammock beckons at siesta time. You can star gaze at night or watch ships of all shapes and sizes sail past by day: the views across the Straight are utterly mesmeric.

The interior is simple - whitewashed walls, quarry-tiled floors, the odd beam, an exposed stone wall. The double (or twin) bedroom has a ceiling fan, a CD player and a plug-in radiator in case it gets chillly, but no central heating.

Next door, the kitchen has an electric oven, a gas hob, a fridge/freezer and a tiny dining table with stools. There’s no sitting room, but you do get a sofa out on the covered terrace, which almost feels like an extension of the inside. You’ll also find tables and chairs, sunloungers, orange trees and a barbeque.

Beyond the kitchen is a red-tiled bathroom with small bathtub and a detachable showerhead.

All in all, it's very cosy and secluded - but also quite small. If the rain sets in, you might feel a little claustrophobic, but in good weather it's charming.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hammock
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
  • Terrace
  • Terrace


The casita's small kitchen has an electric oven, a gas hob, a fridge/freezer and a dining bar. There's a good range of cooking equipment and utensils - grater, juicer, steamer, coffee makers (both hob-top and plunger variety) - so you can easily cater for yourselves all week. In summer, you'll probably want to use the barbeque rather than the oven.

In terms of eating out, there are a couple of restaurants at the bottom of the hill, but they’re pretty basic, and you might prefer to head off to Tarifa for supper. It’s about 10km away, but the night life is good and you’ll find lots of places to eat. Our first choice would be Casa Lola in the old town for its great tapas and excellent wine list; Villa Nueva for fish (the locals all eat here); Mandragora near the church (more Moroccan); Los Melli or Bar Frances for tapas. You’ll find Chinese, Japanese and Mexican, too.

And don't forget that Algeciras has a few great restaurants even if it does see far fewer foreign visitors than über-trendy Tarifa. La Casita, next to the market, is famous for its montaditos, whilst at La Carbonera you should try the pisto (it's a kind of thick gazpacho) that comes topped with a quail's egg. And for a really tasty pincho moruno, Lizarán is the place.

If you're planning to hit Tarifa after supper you'll find any number of great little bars to chill out with a cocktail or a G&T: it's an after-dinner drink in Spain and is currently seeing a huge renaissance.

For shopping, Algeciras (8km) has one of Andalucia's best daily markets offering a wide variety of freshly caught fish and a range of hypermarkets to keep the larder stocked. The Tarifa market, secreted away by the walls of the old town, is equally buzzy though on a smaller scale. There's also a local shop in Pelayo (walking distance) for basics. If you need to have something specific for when you get there (e.g. if you are coming with a baby) then the owners will happily get it.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Oven
Eating: La Casita


  • Los Alcornocales National Park is on your doorstep. Bring your hiking boots and follow the tracks up into the hills. Migrating birds fly over and if you come at the right time of year, you’ll see wing-flapping vultures resting on the hills

  • Head off to the unspoilt beaches of Zahara and the ancient Roman ruins in Bolonia. Cosmopolitan Tarifa is renowned for its windsurfing and kite-surfing. If you want to learn, Tarifa’s the place to do it

  • If horse riding is your thing, saddle up and go for a gallop on the windswept beaches

  • You can climb rock faces or hit the mountain bike tracks in the hills

  • Seville is a 2-hour drive, but worth the journey. The sherry town of Jerez, ancient Cadiz and the hilltop town of Vejer de La Frontera are all about a 1-hour drive. Jimena de La Frontera is also within striking distance

  • Day trips to Morocco are easy to arrange. Ferries leave from Tarifa several times a day and take you over to Tangier in under an hour

  • March to May is the best time for walkers to see the wealth of wild flowers that grow in the area

  • Gibraltar is close by, less than half an hour by car. Don’t drive in; leave your car in La Linea and walk over. You’ll find a slice of England circa 1972

  • Head for Algecircas and shop for your provisions amidst the colour and brouhaha of its covered market

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and may well strike up a friendship with the owners 2 young kids, Rafi and Arthur. The casita can take 1 baby cot or an extra bed (but not both), a high chair can be provided and there are boxes of toys, games and books that are all yours.

The sloping grounds and uneven path leading up to the casita weren't built with toddlers in mind although the vast, flat lawns back down the hill are ideal for kids taking their first steps or for any kind of ball game. Parents should bear in mind that the pool has no kid's height shallow end so your offspring need to be watched over at all times.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

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