Koala Tarifa

Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain Book from

Comfort, colour and no koalas in 6 funky apartment at the heart of Tarifa's Old Town
Tarifa has seen a complete metamorphosis over the past 20 years thanks to its new-found status as surf capital of southern Europe. The narrow streets of its ancient centre are now lined with buzzy bars and restaurants, boutiques and über-trendy design shops. Owner Marta ran one of the best of them before turning her artistic eye towards Koala's 300-hundred-year-old walls. After extensive restoration she created 5 guest apartments which place the decorative accent on functional, contemporary and spare design whilst preserving many of the original features of this traditional Andaluz townhouse. Since then, a sixth larger apartment has been added down the road. Ideal for those wanting added privacy, it has a sunny outdoor terrace and funky interiors.

The main Koala Tarifa house turns around a flagged patio, which doubles as a chill-out area, and the 5 original apartments are reached via staircases that radiate out from this central axis. Varying in size and configuration, any one of them would be a comfortable Tarifa base for folk who are happy to make their own arrangements. Not too daunting when the town centre, with its buzzy Café Central and wonderful covered market, is just around the corner.

Highs

  • Koala is incredibly quiet considering that you're plumb in the centre of town
  • With an apartment rather than a hotel room you really feel as if you've got your own Tarifa pied a terre; the Loft Apartment is particularly private, being 80 metres away in a separate building
  • Alako apartment is a great option for couples with older kids
  • Some apartments have access to a roof terrace; the Loft Apartment has a private outdoor space
  • The juxtaposition of contemporary furnishings and traditional Andalucian architecture works really well

Lows

  • Reception service is limited to daytimes
  • Only Kalao and Lakoa have access to the small walled garden
  • Breakfast is mostly packaged items, however there are great cafes and eateries just moments away
  • Koala has no proper communal space - in wet weather you might get cabin fever

Best time to go

July and August can get a bit crazy when the town and beaches fill up with holidaying Spaniards. It's a great place to be for the other 10 months of the year, although you should be prepared for close encounters of the windy kind: when the Levante (a strong easterly wind) is blowing, you'll know about it.

Our top tips

If any of the lamps or the more unusual furniture catches your eye you're in luck: they're all for sale! You can also choose from 12 carefully selected bottles at 'The Koala Tarifa Wine Store'. And should you fancy buying some jazz-chill CDs, ask Björn to open up his magic suitcase: he's the authority!

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 6 apartments
  • Self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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

There are 6 apartments in total, all with access to (or private) outdoor space.

Ground-floor Kalao and Lakoa share access to the small walled garden, where cushioned seats are lit by candles in the evening. Kalao is a monochrome affair with a high-ceilinged kitchenette, a queensize bed and small shower room. Lakoa is a large semi-open-plan space with a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe dividing the queensize bed and sitting room/kitchenette area. A lime-green sofabed and shower tiles add decorative zing.

On the first floor, 3 apartments share access to a roof terrace. Of these, Okala is the smallest - not claustrophobically so, but it’s certainly cosy. Akalo is also a studio with a double bed and exposed stonework in the small kitchenette. Split-level Alako is larger and can comfortably sleep 4 - kids will love the mezzanine double bed, accessed via a steep wooden ladder.

About 80 metres away, the top-floor duplex Loft Apartment offers a sprawling living space and a private terrace. It has 2 double bedrooms, although the second is very compact and only just big enough to hold the queensize bed. A more recent addition, we haven’t seen this apartment just yet, but we think the Old Town setting and ample facilities make it a great offering.

All apartments have wall-mounted electric radiators, WiFi, flatscreen TVs and DVD players, and fans. Shower rooms come with plenty of towels but a rather paltry offering of soap, shower gel and shampoo.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

You may find the kitchens at Koala surplus to requirements. But if you do want to cook for yourself there are pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, cafetiere and a decent-sized fridge.

The Loft Apartment is self-catering but guests staying in the 5 apartments at Koala Tarifa's main buidling are provided with a small packaged breakfast each day. Laid out in the kitchen, there will be coffee/tea, cereal, fresh bread, and fruit.

We also enjoyed spending a lazy morning at the main square's Cafe Central. It's a great spot to people-watch over fresh orange juice, cafe con leche and tostadas. Just outside the old town walls Cafe Azul also does great breakfasts and brunches: a smoothie and a bowl of the homemade muesli with fruit and yoghurt will set you up for the day.

When it comes to lunches and dinners, Tarifa has a more cosmopolitan selection of restaurants than anywhere on the Atlantic coast: Spanish, Indian, Tex-Mex, Thai or Japanese, it's all on your doorstep. For a memorable al fresco meal in the old town, Casa Lola allows you can choose from an innovative tapas menu and wine list.

If you plan to spend your day on the beach, the buzzy covered market is the best place to buy the makings of your picnic. Or check out the buffet lunch at the Hurricane Hotel which is at the far end of the Tarifa beach.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Learn to kite-surf. The Mistral school is just along the beach next to the Hurricane Hotel

  • Take a day trip to Morocco and visit the souks. You can get to Tangiers by hydrofoil, and the harbour is 10-minute walk from Koala. Be warned though: they say the crossing is a mere 35 minutes, but you actually end up being on the ferry for double that, so allow extra time

  • Keen birdwatchers will be in heaven: Tarifa is under one of the most important bird migration roots 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

  • Spend a day on Gibraltar. Even if the Main Street is a bit seedy, the tour of The Rock - apes and all - is fascinating

  • Visit the Roman ruins and state-of-the-art museum at Bolonia (a 20-minute drive from Tarifa), have a lazy lunch of fresh fish, then relax on its beautiful arc of sandy beach

  • Go horse riding along the Tarifa beach or up into the Alcornocales park; the Hurricane Hotel can organise hacks

  • Shop in Tarifa's colourful market - the fruit, veg and fish stalls are amazing - then cook a romantic supper for 2 back at Koala

  • Search for whales and dolphins out in the Strait. Several agencies offer daily trips out from Tarifa

  • Fishing trips and yoga lessons can be arranged, and there's a golf course and tennis courts nearby

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Kitesurfing
  • Nightlife
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Surfing
  • Tennis
  • Whalewatching
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

We'd recommend these apartments for parents with teens; they aren't suitable for those with toddlers due to the steps and the mezzanine level bed in Alako. Older children with relish the abundance of watersports and lively atmosphere. Those with younger children will appreciate Tarifa's traffic-free town centre.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Alako has 2 double beds, 1 of which is on a mezzanine level. It sleeps a maximum of 4 but it's not suitable for toddlers. Lakoa has a single sofabed for a child and can also take a baby cot. The Loft Apartment is good for older children. It has lots of space, 2 double bedrooms (one is very compact) and a large living space (separate from main Koala Tarifa building).

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • 2 cots
  • High chair

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

Children's meals:

Kitchenettes are basic but you can cater for babies and they have a microwave. Nearby eateries are family friendly and relaxed. There's also a market within walking distance

Kids Activities on site:

  • Children's DVDs

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Tarifa's long sandy beach
  • Surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing
  • Horses nearby

Families Should Know:

There are a lot of steps at Koala Tarifa and the Loft Apartment (not ideal for toddlers). The beach is frequently very windy so it's not ideal for sunbathing/sand castle building

Distances:

  • Airport: 90 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly: Loft Apartment

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
6/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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