Finca el Tossal

near Bolulla, Valencia & Costa Blanca, Spain Book from

A traditional casa rural, 8km uphill from the Costa Blanca, with great views of the Marina Alta mountains and the Med
A stone and terracotta villa with wrought-iron balconies, it looks like it’s been here for a century or more, but Thorsten and Sonia Herrmann built this place from scratch - everything, even the furniture. There was nothing here, says Thorsten, except goats, ruined farmhouses, a ledge of wooded hillside and a sensational view. They opened in 2005 with just one guest room and have since added 6 more, plus a cool pool terrace and chill-out area, and an intimate dining room and bar. It’s a very personal space, drawing influences from the Herrmanns’ globe-trotting past: German-born, they have lived in Italy and California; Sonia was brought up in Spain.

Their country retreat is a hybrid of Italianate villa and mini Moorish palace, set in a tranquil Spanish landscape where craggy mountains overlook a haze of coastal plains and a patchwork of lemon, almond and orange groves. In the gardens, trees cast pools of shade onto pristine lawns; you can smell the pines, and watch a light Mediterranean breeze ruffle the palms. Don’t be put off by the crowds of Benidorm tourists who pour into nearby Alicante airport. Up here in the mountains, nature is the big draw, and opportunities for hiking, biking and fresh air open up a wild side to the Costa Blanca that tourists rarely see. You can see a glint of Benidorm in the distance, but you couldn’t be further away.

Highs

  • The wonderful views across mountains and valleys, down to the coast. You're high in the hills, surrounded by wonderful hiking and biking; there are mountain bikes to borrow
  • The rooms, all Junior Suites, are large and sunny with handmade four-poster beds
  • A relaxed house-party atmosphere - spiced up by the mix of nationalities
  • Fantastic set dinners on the terrace at sunset, served with a gentle evening breeze, candles on the tables, cocktails, and a glass or 2 of Rioja
  • Great value

Lows

  • It’s a bit out of the way so you'll need a car, and the access is steep via narrow lanes
  • Dinner is only available 5 nights a week (and no lunches) though there are restaurants in Bolulla, a 3km drive away
  • No air-conditioning but it is cooler up here in the hills and fans can be provided on request

Best time to go

Finca el Tossal is open all year round and, in an area that attracts visitors in or out of season, it claims 320 days of sunshine a year. In winter it can be cold, cosy and very quiet; spring and autumn are great for hiking, biking and the outdoors. Come in late spring for orange blossom, and in summer for lazing by the pool in the hot sun or day trips to the beach.

Our top tips

Guadalest (20 minutes by car) is a spectacular mountain village, speckled with the ruins of ancient Islamic castles. Reached via a rock tunnel, the castle village offers tours, souvenir shops and amazing views, but try to avoid peak-season crowds.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Rural Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast (+ dinners 5 nights/week; 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
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 7 Junior Suites - 3 on garden level, 3 above, and one studio room which is set to one side of the main building. All have a sitting area furnished with armchairs, and all are south-facing with mountain views from a Juliet balcony or doors opening onto the garden (the studio has a small terrace).

Each has its own quirks and touches (one upstairs room features antique Indian pillars and an unusually high-beamed roof), but they all share a basic Mediterranean style: a combo of earthy colours (ochre, terracotta, lavender, coffee, cobalt blue), rugs and kilims on cool tiled floors, Moorish arches, Moroccan lamps, brass, coloured glass and dark wood. The handmade four-poster beds are draped in floaty muslin and there are shutters to keep out the glare of the sun. Bathrooms are simple and rustic, with a shower and toiletries.

One double converts to a twin, and the studio room - which has a mini kitchen with a hob, fridge and kettle - would make a good family room. All rooms are equipped with satellite TV, DVD players, security safes and heating for the cool winter months. There is no air-conditioning, though there are fans on request and, if it’s really hot (rare up here in the mountains), an external air-con system can by plugged in on request.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan (on request)
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Internet access
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The dining room is the hotel’s social hub, with tables set inside and out (or by a log fire in winter), and the food is fresh, seasonal and locally sourced - the kitchen garden provides some of the salads and fresh herbs. A 4-course set dinner is offered 5 nights of the week (usually not on Monday or Tuesday, though this isn’t set in stone). During our visit, it began with a delicious tomato pâté served with homemade bread, followed by a fresh fig salad with goats' cheese, slow-roasted leg of lamb with vegetables, and a tangy fruit compote with lemon cream. Menus are chalked onto a board during the day, giving guests a chance to make alternative arrangements if any of the dishes don’t suit diets or palates.

The bar offers a small wine list - including good Spanish wines at reasonable prices - and there’s usually a cocktail of the day on offer. There's also an honesty bar - a fridge stocked with drinks and mixers, where guests can help themselves to wines, spirits and soft drinks at any time of day.

Breakfast is a generous buffet of cereals, homemade breads, cakes and pastries, cheeses, cold meats and homemade yoghurts, served with freshly squeezed juices, teas and coffee.

For lunches and dinner on Monday/Tuesday nights, you'll need to drive into Bolulla (3km); Thorsten and Sonia can advise on restaurants.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go walking: there are numerous mountain paths, suitable for all abilities. Thorsten can provide maps and routes
  • The area is popular with cyclists (particularly serious, lycra-clad roadsters). Bolulla has often been a stage of the Vuelta de España (Spain’s Tour de France) thanks to its access to a classic ride: up the Coll de Rates, which zig-zags through the Marina Alta mountains. Lower down there are gentler routes as well as numerous tracks for goaty mountain bikers. The hotel has mountain bikes to borrow
  • Stroll around Altea: 15 minutes’ drive, it’s one of the most attractive towns on the Costas, a labyrinth of white-washed streets, designer shops, galleries, a smart beach promenade, seafront restaurants and the blue domes of its distinctive church, La Mare de Déu del Consol (Our Lady of Solace)
  • Visit waterfalls: the Font Algar is the area’s biggest tourist attraction and it’s only 5 minutes downhill by car (you can walk it in half an hour). Go early in the morning before the day-trippers arrive, or ask Thorsten to direct you to a lesser-known waterfall
  • Hit the beach: the Costa Blanca is home to some of the finest, cleanest beaches in southern Spain. Suggestions include Portet de L’Olla (sand and shingle at Altea) or the beaches at Oliva (65km). The Herrmanns can also guide you to hidden pebble coves (the 5 Les Rotes bays near Denia are beautiful), and tell you where to find scuba diving, surfing, sailing and other watersports
  • Day-trip to Valencia, Spain’s 3rd largest city and the home of paella. Must-dos include the cathedral, the Museo de Bellas Artes (paintings by Goya, El Greco and Velázquez), the 15th-century Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange; now a World Heritage Site), the old town, the beaches, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences (designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Climbing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome - the bedrooms are large enough to accommodate an extra bed or baby cot, and there are high chairs in the dining room.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

One of the bedrooms is a studio, which has a mini kitchen with a hob, fridge and kettle

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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