“A cosy small hotel in an undiscovered white village, with fabulous walking trails amongst mountains and forest, and Ronda just 18km away”
Cartajima, population 100, is that rarest of Andalucian finds: an untouched white village, with traditional ways of living. Everyone has a bit of land, and olives, avocados, peppers and tomatoes, lemons, plums, peaches and figs all come straight from the mountain in season. The hotel is small and intimate, welcoming and indulging. You get whitewashed walls, an open fire in the big airy sitting room and 6 super-comfy rooms; all have small balconies, 3 of which look over the valley to the mountains. At the top of the house, a roof terrace; at the bottom, a dining room for delicious home-cooked suppers. Walk out the front door and find tracks that lead into the forest, or jump in the car and head to glittering Ronda; it’s a 15-minute drive. If you want peace on the side of a glorious mountain, you've just found it. A great little hotel run by a delightful couple.
- The location - not only an idyllic village in a pristine setting, but also a great base to explore Andalucia's romantic cities (Jerez, Cadiz, Seville, even Cordoba)
- Fabulous hiking and bird watching - Di can supply maps and picnics
- Delicious food - think magret of duck with pomegranate molasses then honey mousse with local strawberries. Los Castanos won a prestigious gourmet award in 2017: Inland Hotel of The Year (Academia Gastronómica Málagueña)
- The hands-on owners Di and John, who make this such a relaxing, homely place to stay
- When we revisited, we loved sitting in rocking armchairs, soaking up the long views and incredible peace
- You're up in the mountains and will need to hire a car to explore; we found the road up a little hairy, but it has recently been improved
- No-choice set menu each night, but Di will talk you through supper in the morning and can cater for vegetarians and vegans
- No pool at the house, but a village pool up the road compensates
Best time to go
Cartajima’s feria (fiesta) takes place at the end of August. It lasts for 4 days and 4 nights. Locals come, as do villagers who still own property here but live down in Malaga to work. Dancing in the street starts at midnight. If you’re looking for total peace, this isn’t the time to come”
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Breakfast (+ dinners on request)
- Adults only (babes in arms welcome)
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Honesty bar
- Maps for walking
Extremely comfortable rooms come with the best beds (kingsize or twin), the crispest linen and simple white-washed walls. There are comfy rocking armchairs, terracotta-tiled floors and excellent lighting. Decor is fairly simple, but attractively so, with cast-iron mirror frames from Morocco and beautiful art throughout. Sylvia, who lives in the village and helps in the house, brings roses from her garden to add a touch of colour.
All rooms have balconies. One at the back of the house looks over the courtyard and up at the next-door church. The rooms at the front of the house have views that pour over village rooftops and out onto the valley; crack open a bottle of wine and sit out on your little balcony, mesmerised by it. There are no TVs - you won't want them here - but all the essentials and treats are on hand: bathrobes, fluffy towels, apples by the bed and minibars. Books are left in bookshelves and there’s tea and coffee making facilities. A couple of rooms have bathtubs, as well as the showers that are present in every ensuite, and the soaps, gels and shampoos are made from olive oil.
Responding to guests' demands, there are also sketching materials in every room so you can try your hand at capturing the inspirational views from your balcony.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
The dining area opens onto a small whitewashed courtyard, where you can eat in summer, with pots of colour all over the place and the church bell tower gazing down on you. Breakfast is a real feast. You get homemade bread, freshly-squeezed orange juice, exciting jams, good strong coffee and local cheeses, plus eggs on request.
Dinner is the main event though. Di does slow food, whatever’s in season, much from the fields around you. There’s a daily set menu, but she'll talk you through her plans and make sure you get something you like. When we first stayed, we had grilled chicory with a Roquefort sauce and Serrano ham, duck in a Seville orange sauce with garlic mash, followed by frozen lemon cake. When we revisited, we had an amazing Chorizo Inferno (individual flambeed skewers of chorizo, served with a delicious Mexican salad), followed by melt-in-the-mouth magret of duck with pomegranate molasses and roasted root vegetables. Local strawberries with a divine honey mousse finished things off perfectly. House wines are extremely good - red, white and rosé; if you want something a little fancier, you can have it. We heartily recommend you eat here a couple of nights - see Rates.
Cartajima is tiny - church, shop, and a couple of bars. El Horno Frasquita is a charming back street bar, where you can get simple yet excellent Andalucian food. Visit the surrounding villages, such as Parauta for great Spanish country fare - wild boar, rabbit, and local lamb or Alpandeire for restaurant La Casa Grande which serves simple but sophisticated dishes. Or if you want something more refined, drive into Ronda (about a 15-minute drive) for a night on the town. It has loads of choice - Italian, Chinese and of course some fabulous tapas bars. Di and John can recommend.
- Coffee / tea making
- Dinner by arrangement
- Drive to restaurants
- Vegetarian menu
- The countryside here is fabulous. There’s lots of it, not many people in it, and it's beautiful. Walking tracks connect 7 white villages, so pack a picnic and head on out. Bring your binoculars. Migrating birds pass through twice a year, loads of eagles, vultures, too. You can also head over the ridge and find the source of Rio Genal, the local river
- You can do a tour of the village in under 10 minutes. The church is next door to the house. It was destroyed during the civil war and rebuilt after. The other white villages in the region are also worth a visit, including Juzcar, which was famously painted blue to act as a Disney smurf village
- Ronda is a 15-minute drive up the road. You get the famous gorge, great bars, big churches and the oldest bull ring in Spain. Don't miss its Arab Baths, either
- Day trip to Andalucia's romantic cities - Seville, Jerez, Cadiz, even Cordoba and Granada. Visit the Giralda, archaelogical museums, tapas and fish restaurants and the magnificent Alhambra. And don't miss the chance to go sherry tasting
- Several civilisations have made this land their home. The Roman’s were in the area, the Moors settled here in AD711. Caves up on Riscos (the mountain) are visible from the road
- The village swimming pool opens at 4pm every day in summer. You can go up and take a dip. There are padel tennis courts and a basketball court, too
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Sherry tasting
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
The hotel is adults only, although babies under 2 can be accommodated in baby cots.
Teens (over 12)
The hotel is set in the small village of Cartajima, which is up in the mountains of Andalucia in southern Spain. It's 18km south of Ronda.
Malaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso (104km) and Gibraltar (104km) are the nearest airports. Seville and Jerez airports are a little further still. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving them.
From the Airport
Due to the remote location of Cartajima you'll need to hire a car (see below), or the owners can arrange a transfer.
For car hire see our car rental recommendations. Two roads lead up; both are very windy! It'll take longer to get up than you may think. Leave 2 hours from either airport, and come with a full tank of petrol.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Andalucia and getting around
- Malaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso 104.0 km AGP
- Gibraltar North Front 104.0 km GIB
- Beach 45.0 km
- Shops 0.2 km
- Restaurant 0.2 km