La Almunia del Valle

Nr Granada, Granada & Sierra Nevada, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Style and comfort in the Sierra Nevada at this bucolic mountain hideaway, only 15 minutes' drive from Granada and 20 from the ski resort
You’re in the first folds of the Sierra Nevada here, but only a 15-minute drive from the centre of Granada. Spectacular landscape encircles you: mountains rise across the valley, streams gurgle, pine forests cling to the hills. If you want to walk, you can strike out from the front door (maps and walking sticks are on hand); alternatively, sit out by the pool in the shade of an ancient fig tree and drink in the views. Come in winter and go skiing: the Sol y Nieve resort is just a 20-minute car ride away.

As for the house, well, that’s not bad either, a beautifully orchestrated commingling of contemporary art, furnishings and fittings with the building's more rustic base elements of slate and dressed stone: rustic chic at its very most appealing. It’s built into the side of a hill and a couple of the rooms have raw stone walls. Elegant, uncluttered bedrooms come with long views and crisp linen, a fire smoulders in the first-floor sitting room in winter, and summer suppers are taken up on the rooftop terrace, where, on clear nights, you’ll see the moon slip over the mountain and light up the valley below. Magical.

Highs

  • The fabulous setting on the side of a hill has mountains all around
  • The comfortable and stylish bedrooms offer great value for money
  • Beautiful Granada and the magnificent Alhambra, the finest palace in Spain, are just 10 minutes away
  • The Sierra Nevada National Park is great for long walks, horse riding and mountain biking
  • Patricia and Manuel are consummately good hosts: warm, caring and genuinely keen for you to experience the best of Granada and its sierra
  • La Almuñia has a droolingly romantic, hidden away feel to it: you can't fail to slip into easy R&R at this place

Lows

  • The set menu for dinner offers no choice. But menus are discussed in the morning, any allergies or veggie leanings accommodated, and the produce is all locally sourced
  • If you want the bars and clubs of the big city, you’ll have to drive down to Granada each night
  • You’re up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, at the end of a long and very narrow country road, so you’ll need a car to get here

Best time to go

May to October brings warmer weather, but you can come in winter for skiing.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 15
  • Breakfast (+ dinner by arrangement)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Jan 2017 - 9 Feb 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

All the rooms have the same soothing style, but all are different. Wander around and you’ll find padded bedheads, Mies van der Rohe chairs, a fascinating collection of contemporary art on the walls, rugs, TVs, books and good lighting.

You get ceiling fans, pretty throws, Mediterranean colours and terracotta-tiled floors. Beds are immaculate, with eiderdowns and the crispest linen. Every room has a couple of delightful armchairs - small, well-made and sumptuously upholstered - which face towards the windows. First-floor rooms get the longer views, while those on the ground floor have doors that open onto the garden. One is built into the side of the hill and has a stone wall, whilst 2 glass-fronted rooms have recently been added on a higher terrace: these 2 are simply stunning. For extra space and a terrace, opt for a Large Standard Room or a Superior Room.

Bathrooms (all ensuite) are similarly indulging. Some come with a shower only; others have a bathtub as well. All are spacious, but some are huge. You get hand-thrown ceramic sinks, mosaic walls in the power showers plus pretty glasses, big mirrors and candles as well as soap, gel, shampoo, conditioner, body cream along with linen dressing gowns and slippers.

A welcome tray with coffee, tea, biscuits and chocolates is replaced daily, as is the water and juice in the complimentary minibar.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Extensive buffet breakfasts offer a daily surprise: sliced fresh tomatoes, delicious home-made orange and lemon cake and ensainmadas (like a croissant). You’ll also get cereal, home-baked toasted rolls, yoghurt, lots of fruit as well as a cafetiere of coffee, fruit juice and a selection of teas, the latter served to you at your table. Stylish white crockery on crisp white table cloths with proper linen napkins make it feel even more special, as do those eye-watering valley views when it's served alfresco.

During summer - June to September - 'casual' lunches are served down by the pool. Whilst you laze on your lounger a young chef prepares pizza, quiche and salads as well as more traditional raciones (plates of the best local cold cuts and cheeses) at an open poolside bar. It feels convivial and spontaneous, and makes for an even more relaxing day.

Three-course dinners are available, if arranged in advance. Patricia loves to cook and goes to the market in Granada every day. She cooks simple Mediterranean dishes with lots of flavour - loads of fish, chorizo and crepes, terrines, steamed vegetables, and Piononos, a sweet, local, alcohol-soaked pudding. Some vegetables come from her organic garden, as do castañas (chestnuts) in autumn, figs in summer, oodles of cherries in May and June as well as the best virgin olive oil from the terraced groves that surround the house. Our dinner was light and tasty - bacon and egg terrine followed by grilled Dorada with potato salad, then caramel cheesecake. Coffee is served in the sitting room. You can head out onto the roof terrace, but some guests prefer to stay chat. You can also get a good brandy.

Monachil has a couple of restaurants, where you can get something simple, but if you want a slap-up dinner, you’ll have to head into Granada. Manuel and Patricia will be there to point you in the right direction: their current top recommendation is Puerta del Carmen, a sumptuously decorated bistro-style restaurant at one side of the Plaza del Carmen. The food is first class and it has an enormous range of wines from around the country.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch (summer months only)
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Head down to Granada and spend a day at the Alhambra - you probably don’t need telling this, but it’s one of Europe’s architectural crown jewels, and if you go you may find you return the day after. It is an exquisite example of Moorish endeavour and has one of the finest gardens in the world

  • You’re in the Sierra Nevada National Park, so put on your walking boots and head off into the mountains. Walks start from the front door and close by you’ll find a small gorge with an Indiana Jones-style swing bridge across it. You can follow the river down into Monachil, a pretty village, where you’ll find big, fat geese sleeping under the bridge at night

  • For the more adventurous, the Sierra Nevada plays host to a number of outdoor pursuits. Horse riding, rafting, paragliding, mountain biking and quad biking can all be arranged

  • A 20-minute drive up the mountain will take you to the ski slopes. You can rent skis, buy daily passes, take a refresher class with a skilled instructor, be on top of a mountain for lunch then back down in Granada for supper - fabulous. On the way back, take a detour to La Alpujarra, where you'll find Spain’s highest villages, whose flat-roofed houses bear witness to their Berber origins

  • There’s a festival of music in July at the Alhambra and a jazz festival in Granada in late October/early November

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Skiing
  • Trekking

Kids

Children are welcome even though the owners were at pains to point out that La Almunia del Valle is not a family-focused hotel. Free cots are available in all rooms.

Family friendly accommodation:

One Large Standard Room, number 8, can accommodate an extra bed (for under 7s), and extra beds can be added to all Superior Rooms, which have private terraces

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

Distances:

  • Airport: 20-30 minutes (Granada)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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