El Cancho

near Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain
Book from GBP Book from £121 per night

El Cancho

near Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain

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

A pair of wonderfully secluded eco-houses (sleeping 2-6) on a hillside above the Atlantic Ocean, 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 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 2 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 twinkling lights across the water
  • BBQs on the terrace as the sun goes down, accompanied by the melody of goat bells in the distance. There are 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 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 slightly treacherous single-track road, with the last 30-100m on foot; a car is essential

Best time to go

El Cancho is open all year round. May and June are the best months for wild flowers and quieter beaches. Summer brings a good party scene, but the main road can get very busy and Tarifa town fills with tourists. September is quieter but warm; the annual 7-day feria is quite something, with 500-strong horseback parades, rides, raffles and surfing competitions. The bird migration is from October to June.

Our top tips

Bring high-factor suncream (the wind can be very deceptive), a windbreak for the beach, walking boots, your binoculars and your iPod (compatible speakers are provided). 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
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Board games


The 2 open-plan houses share similar layouts, which apply to the shared areas and the sleeping arrangements. 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 (2 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 small but perfectly formed, with an open plan kitchen-living and bedroom area, a separate shower room and a kids’ room with 3 bunks reached through a little hobbit-style door. There’s a large sofa with mountain views and plenty of indoor seating. Outside, there's a shaded terrace with sofas and sun loungers.

Features include:

  • 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 comprehensive list of recommendations). In the Old Town we loved Anca Curro, a tiny but famous tapas bar, and Karpanta, which has an international menu specialising in tuna. Also worth trying is vegetarian restaurant Chilimosa, while friendly bar and grill Vaca Loca (‘Mad Cow’) is perfect for committed carnivores.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Family friendly
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
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

  • From Tarifa, you can book deep-sea fishing or horse-riding along the beach

  • Have a round of golf: there's a course near Vejer de la Frontera (approximately 25 minutes' drive)

  • Take the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier in Morocco and visit the souks. Be warned though: they say the crossing is 35 minutes, but you end up being on the ferry for almost 2 hours

  • Or sit back and enjoy doing nothing at all. We relished lazy days swinging in a hammock on our terrace, watching animals roam the hillside and birds swooping in the skies above

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • 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.

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 might be a bit of a schlep with lots of baby equipment.

Kid Friendly:


The houses is 3km north of Tarifa town, on the southern tip of Spain. It is set back from 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. From the on-site car park, the houses are a 100-metre walk across a stream then 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 0.5 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


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