Hotel Cerro de Hijar

Ronda & the White Villages, Spain Book from Book from £48 per night

A hotel for lovers of high places and excellent cuisine, sitting above the village of Tolox near Ronda
Tolox is a sleepy mountain white village (set midway between Ronda and Malaga) which had a brief moment of glory when its spa became the place to take the waters. A narrow road cuts past a number of elegant turn-of-the-century buildings, and the springs, before looping steeply up to the white and ochre façade of this cheery small hotel. From here there are soaring views out across terraced groves of olives and almonds to the distant, glittering Mediterranean.

This is a hotel with a light heart and one where you instinctively wind down. Stepping inside to a bright, colour-washed reception you’ll be greeted by one of the hotel’s young and relaxed staff. Bedrooms grab a slice of that amazing mountain panorama. Here, and throughout the hotel, contemporary art and fittings are offset by more rustic elements. For the most part it works well. But it is in the dining room where Cerro de Híjar scores highest. Martín, the resident chef, moved from a Michelin-starred restaurant to take up the reins at Híjar. His creations are both a visual and culinary feast.

Highs

  • Simply amazing location: a high perch on the eastern flank of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park. These pristine mountains were recently declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (an hour's drive from Malaga)
  • Guillermo, Eugenio and Martín, are easy, affable hosts and speak excellent English
  • The walking, straight out from the hotel, is simply fabulous. Don’t forget your boots and a day pack
  • The food here is streets ahead of the kind you would normally expect in a hotel of this category, whilst the price of the 6-course tasting menus means you can go gourmet on a budget
  • This is a VERY quiet hotel: during our 2013 revisit we heard birdsong, the wind, an occasional renegade frog, and little else

Lows

  • The staff at Híjar are multi-taskers. You may occasionally have to go in search of a receptionist or a bar person
  • You need a car to get the most out of a stay here. If you have a 4x4 you could drive all the way across the Park to Ronda
  • Nervous drivers may find the road up to the hotel a little hair-raising
  • If you come mid-week, out of season, you may find that you have the hotel to yourself - there's not much passing trade!

Best time to go

Autumn, Spring and Winter are the best time of year for walking. Summers are hot, yet because of Hijar’s elevation it doesn’t get too unbearable. And because the hotel is properly heated and insulated, this is a great place to stay during the colder months, too.

Our top tips

Book a place on Guillermo's Clase Magistral and learn how to make a great paella. These informally staged classes are a great way of meeting fellow guests and Guillermo is a charming and amusing mentor.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurant
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Cookery classes
Room:

Rooms

A big effort was made when it came to the decoration of Hijar’s bedrooms. Most are classified as Standard Rooms and can be made up as twins or doubles. The Junior Suites all measure in at 20sq.m: there isn't a separate sitting area as such but the extra metres heighten the sense of space. Then there are the fully fledged Suites with separate sitting areas: of these the one tucked away in the tower would be our top choice.

The rooms are simple, airy and clean as clean can be. Bright colour washes - blue, green, sienna, apricot - provide the backdrop for unusual contemporary prints and richly coloured susani - wall hangings from Turkey which are stapled to the bed walls. Bright Moroccan kilims soften the (rather ubiquitous) red quarry-tiled floors. The wooden, Mexican bedside tables, TV cabinets (these also hide a well-stocked bar fridge) and writing tables strike a more rustic note. Mod cons include WiFi (throughout the hotel) and DVD players in the suites.

All bedrooms have large, louvre-doored wardrobes with masses of hanging and drawer space. There are stylish bedside spotlights and Casablanca fans which even in summer may be superfluous: Híjar’s high, mountain perch really catches the breeze. Duvets are de riguer throughout the hotel whilst mattresses are firm, yet forgiving: you’re bound to sleep well. Bathrooms come decked out in white ceramic tiling with bathtubs and overhead showers (just 2 rooms have shower only).

And there are those views. We’ll treasure the memory of throwing open the shutters and gazing out to that unforgettable chain of mountains bathed in the purples and pinks of dawn. All rooms have small balconies.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The dining room is decorated in the same green, ochre and apricot colour washes that appear throughout the hotel. The mood is warm and festive, enhanced by unusual, bright yellow bar stools, which have a distinctly Dalí-esque feel, and an eclectic collection of contemporary prints. There’s an interesting selection of sounds, too: you’re more likely to hear the latest Tarifa fusion than those overplayed flamenco-for-foreigners classics.

Breakfast - charged as an extra - is laid-up buffet style in the dining room, though you're welcome to drift out to the garden when the weather permits. You'll find cold cuts, soft and hard cheese, croissants and cakes, muesli and yoghurts, a bowl of fresh fruit along with honey and a selection of jams. Expect 2 varieties of bread, freshly squeezed orange juice and superb espresso coffee, served à volonté.

Dinner feels like a special occasion, and the food isn't compromised by your remote location. Martin, chef-in-residence, trained at Malaga’s top cookery school La Consula before refining his art at one of the few Andalucian restaurants to have earned a Michelin star. He adheres to the Slow Cooking tradition and brings the latest culinary techniques to bear on traditional combinations of flavours. Vegetables are often caramelised whilst his foams, confits, souffles and tempuras are recipe book-perfect. We'd always choose his 6-course menú de creativo de degustación though there's also a 3-course set menu (changes daily and includes vegetarian options) which is less expensive. And there's a snack menu on offer during the busier season.

You can join Guillermo on a half day Clase Magistral during which you'll be shown how to make a perfect paella as well as learning about the origins of eastern Spain's most famous culinary creation. Two-day cooking courses are also on offer with guidance on how to prepare a 3-course Andaluz feast.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head off to explore the Sierra de las Nieves Biosphere Reserve on foot, by mountain bike, or in a 4x4. The hotel has maps and leaflets describing the best local trails whilst a guide can be arranged for groups of 6 or more

  • Go horse riding in the Sierra de las Nieves - stunning

  • Take the winding road back down the hill to Tolox for a spa treatment or yoga session. You could then have an oriental massage back in your room

  • Drive through a swathe of wild mountain scenery to Ronda, one of Andalucia’s most spectacularly situated towns

  • Steam in the sauna then chill in the open-air Jacuzzi-with-a-view: the spa is a great new addition at Cerro de Hijar

  • Head for the Med’. There are still good beaches to be discovered along the Costa del Sol and some fabulous chiringuitos (seaside bars)

  • Hunt for wild mushrooms on the surrounding hillsides during the autumn months

  • Spend a day in Malaga making sure not to miss the Picasso museum

  • The cookery courses which are hosted at the hotel are fascinating, and fun

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Language courses
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Children up to 12 years old receive breakfast for free and there's now a kid's menu on offer at both lunch and dinner. Older children will love the great outdoors here and cots and extra beds are available on request.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request.

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

Families Should Know:

There's a pool and plenty of outdoorsy things to do nearby, plus you're only an hour from the airport.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Food was incredible. So peaceful and staff very friendly. We also had a fab massage.

10/10,

The hotel was gorgeously rustic and Spanish! You could not get a better location, perched high on the hillside with views for miles around. One of the most picturesque places I have stayed. The outdoor area's and pool were lovely and never very busy, some days we had the pool area to ourselves! We stayed for 6 nights and felt the staff could have been more personal. A couple of hiccups with food and final bill on our last day, but overall we had a lovely relaxing stay.

7/10,

Our five days at Hotel Cerro de Hijar were just terrific. It's a wonderful place, perched high on the hilltop with fantastic views and really superb food. Lovely pool too. Room 1 (the suite) was huge and great with a jacuzzi bath upstairs. The standard room (2) next door was quite small and our teenagers found it a bit hot at night, even with the window wide open. It's not a luxurious kind of place, which suited us, very low key, lots of hikers and mountain bikers. Very kind and friendly staff who were happy to accommodate teenage food whims. We had some great days out, mainly to wild swimming spots near Ronda and the lakes just north of Ardales, both about an hour's drive and easy terrain. The drive up to hotel is not as bad as we had feared - it's paved all the way and no problem at all if you take it steadily. It was a memorable stay. We may well go back.

10/10,

Unique hotel with fabulous food . Situated in the hills about an hour from the coats this is a real escape. The views from the pool are stunning. Rhonda is an hour away and the drive is spectacular . Very special.

10/10,

Perfect hotel to rest a few days by the pool or hiking in the sierra de las nieves. Service very kind and exceptional food. To repeat!

10/10,

I really can't fault this place, the food was out of this world and the kind of place you want to keep as your little secret, but it's hard to keep this place quiet from everyone and extremely easy to make friends jealous when you show pictures! A must stay! Highlights - the views, excellent house wine and gazpacho with quails eggs.

10/10,

This hotel is a gem. Beautiful position and views. Very attentive staff. We all had a fantastic holiday.

10/10,

A calm, quiet and nice get-away in the mountains!

10/10,

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Rates for Hotel Cerro de Hijar