El Cancho

Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain
Book from GBP Book from £120 per night

El Cancho

Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain

A pair of wonderfully secluded eco-houses (sleeping 2-6) on a hillside above stunning white beaches, with views across the straits to Morocco

A pair of wonderfully secluded eco-houses (sleeping 2-6) on a hillside above stunning white beaches, with views across the straits to Morocco

Just 3km from Tarifa, on a private grassy hillside overlooking the windswept beaches of the Atlantic, lies this pair of open-plan eco-houses surrounded by rocky outcrops and pine forest. The larger house (sleeping 4-6) was designed for Milan’s Salon del Mobile (1998), by Swedish architect Thomas Sandell and Wallpaper* magazine. Its design credentials are evident in the sleek wooden floors, perspex walls and the cubbyhole bed. And up at the top of the hill, rebuilt on the base of an old shepherd's hut, sits the Little House (sleeping 2-5), complete with an open-plan living area, a cool kids’ bunk room, a plunge pool, and incredible 360-degree views.

These relaxed spaces can be many things to many people. The smaller one is perfect as a romantic couple's hideaway; the larger one could be a chilled-out family base; or take them both together - if you're lucky enough to find availability - with a group of kitesurfing friends hoping to make the most of the area’s strong winds.

Both houses offer a real back-to-nature experience with eco-friendly ideals. Solar panels provide electricity, whilst gas heats water directly from the mountain spring. The local farmer still herds his goats around the hillside, so you may even have the enchanting soundtrack of jingling goat bells while you take a siesta.


  • Total solitude and privacy. The two houses are a good distance apart, and you'll share the hillside with cows, goats, pigs, owls and swooping red kites...
  • But you're not completely cut off from civilisation. The main coastal road and Tarifa town are just a 5-minute drive away
  • We love the panoramic views over rocky crags and sparkling seas towards Morocco; on a clear night you can see Tangier's twinkling lights across the water
  • BBQs on the terrace as the sun goes down, accompanied by the melody of goat bells in the distance. Both houses have well-equipped kitchens, too
  • Kite- and windsurfing beaches aplenty; some beautifully secluded bays are within a short drive


  • No air-con and wholly dependent on natural energy; without sunshine (rare in these parts) you may find yourself without power - although the owners promise "a limitless supply of candles and twinkling stars"
  • The open-plan sleeping arrangements might not suit everyone
  • The strong winds can be exhausting, but this is why many people travel to Tarifa
  • Access is via a steep single-track road, with the last 100m on foot if staying in the Larger House; a car is essential
  • Some recent reports that the Larger House could do with some touch-ups, particularly the soft furnishings and the bathroom

Best time to go

El Cancho is open all year round. May and June are the best months for wildflowers and quieter beaches. Summer brings a good party scene, but the main road can get very busy, and Tarifa town fills with Spanish tourists. September and October are quieter but warm; the annual 7-day feria is quite something, with 500-strong horseback parades, rides, raffles and surfing competitions. Winter is ideal for a quiet getaway, and the weather can be surprisingly good - we came in January and experienced bright sunshine and temps in the high teens. The bird migration is from October to June.

Our top tips

Bring high-factor suncream (the wind can be very deceptive), a sturdy windbreak for the beach, walking boots, and your binoculars. Kite / windsurfing gear is useful if you have it, although there are plenty of places you can hire it from.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • Eco-houses
  • 2 houses for 2-6
  • Self-catering (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen


The two open-plan houses share the same plot of land, with the Larger House set further down the hill. They are a good distance apart so privacy isn't an issue. Décor is in keeping with the simplistic, contemporary vibe - and you wouldn’t want much distraction from the stunning landscapes outside every window.

The Larger House (sleeps 4-6), dubbed 'Wallpaper', has a (totally private) minimalist double bedroom. The other beds (two singles and a double) are built cabin-style into the corridor walls and can be screened off by curtains. The kingsize double nook is particularly cosy, with large-scale woodland images printed on the ceiling and a long window at its foot. There’s one shower bathroom, and a lounge-diner-kitchen with assorted seating. The outdoor terrace has hammocks and sun loungers.

The Little House (sleeps 2-5) is a cosy retreat made of stone and glass, and everything focuses on the view. The main space has a living-dining area at the front and a nook with a double bed at the back. In the middle is a small but very well equipped kitchen, and down a few steps to the right is a kids bedroom with three bunk beds. It’s simple but cosy and well looked after. Out front is a shaded terrace with that all-important view, and over to the side is a private plunge pool overlooking the sea.

Features include:

  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots available
  • WiFi


El Cancho is completely self-catering and, while the kitchens aren't sophisticated, we wanted for nothing the entire week. Each has a decent-sized fridge-freezer, gas hobs, a blender, and all the necessary cooking implements and crockery. You'll also find a few basics such as salt, pepper, oil and washing-up liquid, plus a bottle of wine for guests booking through i-escape.

We cooked virtually everything on the fantastic gas BBQ on our terrace - from pork and sausages over the flames, to chilli prawns and asparagus on the hot plate. Our fondest memories are of dinners outside under the stars, sitting on huge floor cushions at a table adorned with candles. There's also an indoor table in each house, seating up to 6, for rare rainy days. And in the larger house you can retreat from the wind in a sheltered central courtyard.

The food market in Tarifa’s Old Town is wonderful for fresh fish, meat and vegetables, and there are a couple of supermarkets on the road into town. There’s also a lively bar and restaurant scene both in Tarifa and along the main road (the owners will give you a list of recommendations). The nearest restaurant is at Hurricane Hotel, located on the main road at the turning to El Cancho, around 800m away. In the Old Town, we loved Anca Curro, a tiny but famous tapas bar. Also worth trying is vegetarian restaurant Chilimosa, while friendly bar and grill Vaca Loca (‘Mad Cow’) is perfect for committed carnivores. Wherever you choose to eat, look out for local tuna on the menus (try it raw) - this stretch of coast is famous for the Almadraba tuna catch.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Wallpaper


  • Tarifa is a mecca for kite and windsurfers from all over the world, and surf schools can be found along the beaches; Valdevaqueros is one of the best
  • Keen bird-watchers need step no further than the terrace. The houses sit directly under one of the most important bird migration routes between Europe and Africa, and from October to June you'll see flocks of white storks, black storks, lesser kestrels, short-toed eagles, Egyptian vultures, sparrowhawks, red and black kites, marsh and Montagu's harriers, ospreys, buzzards, booted eagles and more
  • Go hiking: the house is within a natural park, so you can set off on foot for wonderful walks and breathtaking views. A small path takes you to a headland looking out over beaches in both directions - stunning at sunrise and sunset
  • Stroll along the beach or venture north towards Punta Paloma and Bolonia and you'll be able to walk to some gorgeous secluded sandy coves. In Bolonia, allow time to visit Baelo Claudia: spectacular Roman ruins right on the beach
  • From Tarifa, you can book deep-sea fishing, whale watching, or horse-riding along the beach
  • Have a round of golf: there's a course near Vejer de la Frontera (approximately 25 minutes' drive)
  • Visit Africa for the day! The ferry from Tarifa to Tangier takes just over an hour, so you can pop over to go bargain hunting in the souks

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Whale watching
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and will love the beach, the space and the local animals. Our 3-year old keeps asking to go back, partly lured by the cosy cubbyhole beds and the Lego!

Best for:

Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Larger House has 2 double beds and 2 single beds. The Little House has a double bed and bunk beds for 3 children.

Cots Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and toys are available on request.

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

Families Should Know:

Bear in mind that the terrain around the houses is quite rocky, so keep an eye on new walkers. Also, walking from the car to the Larger House might be a bit of a schlep with lots of baby equipment.

Kid Friendly:


The houses are 3km north of Tarifa town, on the southern tip of Spain. They are set above Playa de los Lances and Playa de Valdevaqueros, with views across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

By Air
The nearest airports are Gibraltar (50km / 1-hour away), Jerez (80km / 1.5 hours away) and Málaga (150km / 2-hours away).

From the Airport
The houses are off the beaten track, so hire a car to prevent feeling isolated. The Little House is closer to the car park; from the Larger House it's a 100-metre walk downhill.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through through i-escape.


  • Gibraltar International 50.0 km GIB
  • Málaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso 150.0 km AGP


  • Beach 0.8 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.8 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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