El Tejar

nr Ronda, Ronda & the White Villages, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Virginia Cornish-Bowden
An old tile factory, perched above a sleepy village in the Ronda mountains, refurbished with oodles of style as a self-catering villa (sleeps 2-8)
Montecorto is one of a string of pueblos blancos which stretch westwards from Ronda across the Grazalema National Park. Narrow streets of white-washed houses tumble down the mountainside to a diminutive square: it gets busy here when a car or donkey passes by. At the top of the village sits El Tejar ('the tile factory'), once a highly popular B&B, and now available as a stylish villa for 2-6 people, or even 8 at a pinch.

From its cobbled terraces and exuberant gardens, which wrap around a spring-fed pool, you look out to a panorama of almond and olives groves, oak forests and distant peaks. This delightfully rambling edifice, spread over a dozen different levels, takes its decorative cues from India and North Africa where the owner, a writer and guide, has lived and worked. There are bright kilims, ochre washes, Rajasthani throws, intricately carved Moroccan mirrors and bright geometric pottery. The house has 4 large bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms and private terraces. A friendly Spanish housekeeper comes in each day to clean and tidy, and can prepare delicious Andalucian meals if you wish.

Highs

  • A bright and welcoming house, festooned with bougainvillea, honeysuckle and jasmine
  • Montecorto is a friendly village, well away from the tourist trail, and perfectly placed for hikes off the beaten track (book through us and you'll get a copy of the owner's trail guide and map to help you)
  • Fabulous views from the terraces, lounge and bedrooms
  • The housekeeper is friendly yet discreet
  • Hundreds of books including an extensive collection on Spain
  • This is no normal rental villa, but a truly beautiful home which is now open to guests

Lows

  • It's reached via a steep track which cuts up through a pine forest
  • Don’t expect any English to be spoken in the village shops - but spanglish and gesticulating should do the trick
  • Food in the village restaurants is of the cheap-and-cheerful variety. For gourmet cuisine, you’ll need to drive into Ronda
  • You’ll need a car to get the best out of a stay here
  • Minimum stay: 5 nights in low season, 7 nights in high season

Best time to go

The countryside is at its very best in April and May, when the spring flowers are a riot of colour. But at any time in spring, autumn or winter the chances are that you’ll have clear sunny days, and temperatures rarely drop below freezing even at the coldest time of year. The village has a micro-climate which means that it is often 4 to 5 degrees warmer than Ronda, which is just 20 km away.

Our top tips

During the summer there are masses of local ferias to keep you entertained, including that of Montecorto which takes place around the ‘The Day of the Virgin’ (El Dia de la Virgen del Carmen) - which is in July. Expect 4 nights of carousing.

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Villa
  • 4-bedroom villa
  • Self-catering (+ dinner by arrangement)
  • 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:

Rooms

El Tejar has 4 large bedrooms, all with their own bathrooms. Casablanca is a large double with its own lounge and great views, Cuzco and Cadiz are twins also with views, and Cueva is on a lower level with less of a view, a small annexe and a shower rather than bathtub. There is enough space in all rooms to set up a third bed if required.

The decoration of the rooms is a successful combination of traditional andaluz style with a large dash of things Moroccan. Bedspreads, cushions, carved mirrors, kilims and applique lights have all come straight from the souks in Tangier. Mattresses and linen are top of the range and the bathrooms, all with exterior windows, have been stylishly co-ordinated in the same vein. Heated towel rails will be appreciated in the colder months (and the water pressure is excellent).

The overall feel of the rooms is just as homely as the rest of the house and a number of extras that lift them into the ’special’ category. All have CD players with a selection of Spanish music (classical, jazz, flamenco), there are books, magazines and photos of travels in faraway places, and plenty of wardrobe space.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Washing machine

Eating

You can expect to dine alfresco for at least 8 months a year at El Tejar. Even in winter, on sunny days, you’ll be comfortable dining on the sheltered terrace. Sitting beneath the jasmine and wysteria, gazing out to the mountains, is one of the abiding memories of any stay here. Meals are also really cosy in the welcoming, beamed dining room when the weather gets cooler.

Montecorto is a great place to shop. There are a number of small grocers selling virgin olive oil, sausages and salchichón from the village, great fruit and vegetables, and a good selection of wines and sherries. And directly beneath El Tejar is Pepe’s Farm where you can buy fresh oranges, lemons, plums, lettuces, artichokes, potatoes, tomatoes, walnuts, free-range eggs and a lot more besides. Most of his fruit and vegetables are organically grown.

The kitchen is well-equipped with an oven, a hob, a microwave, and thoughtful extras like herbs and spices, and a dishwasher. If you fancy a break from cooking, just let housekeeper, know in the morning. She can prepare a 3-course dinner which she’ll serve to you at the candle-lit dining room table or beneath the stars on the terrace. A typical cena might be a thick courgette soup followed by hake baked in almond sauce, a mixed salad and with pears poached in red wine and cinnamon for dessert. Slow Andalucian cuisine at its best.

If you prefer to eat out, there is plenty of choice. Montecorto has 2 restaurants of the cheap-and-cheerful variety whilst Ronda is just a short drive from El Tejar. Here you’ll find everything from buzzy lttle tapas bars to a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Features include:

  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hike in the Grazalema park: there are masses of half and full day hikes

  • Visit Pileta cave by the light of a spluttering Davey lamp, to see some of Europe’s best preserved cave paintings and underground caverns

  • The Roman theatre of Acinipo is just 10 minutes drive from El Tejar; sculpted out of solid rock it has extraordinary acoustics and awe-inspiring views

  • Day trips to Ronda - the town is a 15-minute drive from El Tejar

  • You can visit any number of pueblos blancos (‘white villages’) from here - Grazalema, Zahara, Setenil, Arcos and Gaucín are all within easy driving distance

  • Seville can also be visited as a day trip; and there are good train connections to Granada, should you fancy taking in the Alhambra whilst you’re here

  • Guided ornithological tours in the park

  • Accompanied bike rides through the Park can be arranged: an English-speaking cycling guide lives in the village

  • You can play tennis at a hotel 10km away - they can supply all equipment

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Trekking

Kids

There are steep steps throughout the house which means that El Tejar isn’t ideal for toddlers. However the owners welcome families with babies - there is a cot and a high chair - and children past the toddling age will love it here. The housekeeper is great with children and adept at preparing kiddies' meals, and can even babysit if required.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available

Babysitting:

The housekeeper can babysit if required.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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