“Rustic chic in a whiter shade of pale at this luxurious self-catering farmhouse close to Ronda (sleeps 10-12)”
The all-white colour scheme imparts a bright and fresh quality downstairs and up in the bedrooms; these are the sort of rooms you might expect to find in the best boutique hotel, with every conceivable spoiling detail. Egyptian cotton sheets, quilts and bedspreads are all courtesy of The White Company, mattresses are firm-but-soft-on-top, whilst the the terracotta floor tiles are beautifully juxtaposed by white painted roof beams, cream linen curtains and cotton durries. All wooden furnishings - tables, writing desks, dressing tables - have been painted a soft tone of ivory, which further enhances the mood of pale perfection.
The master bedroom, Room 1, is at the southern end of the house. Balconied French windows (like all others in the house these are shuttered and mozzie-netted) ensure the room receives maximum light, and it benefits from having a kingsize bed, an open hearth and a Bosé iPod dock. It has the largest bathroom with a separate bathtub and walk-in rain shower as well as double sinks set in a long sweep of marble surface.
Rooms 2 and 3 are slightly smaller - though still with kingsize beds - and have low-ceilinged bathrooms slotted in beneath their angled eaves with separate bathtubs and showers but just a single sink. Room 3 has an additional single bed, and can be set up as a triple. Room 4 is the smallest double. It has a standard double bed and is the only room without a separate shower, though it does have one above its bathtub. There's also a very small single bedroom, Room 5 (no ensuite), which would be perfect for a baby or a young child.
All rooms are centrally heated and you're treated to all kinds of extras like towelling dressing gowns, heavy cotton towels, heated towel rails, big Kalderei bathtubs, a hairdryer, handmade soap from The Soap Company and masses of space for your clothes in the fitted wardrobes.
Should you need additional space for your group there's also a separate apartment at one end of the building. This has a smaller bedroom with a standard double bed, its own sitting room with a sofabed, and a small kitchen. It could be perfect for a family who were travelling with their own staff, or would be fine for teenagers wanting a bit of distance from their folks.
If the size and quality of your kitchen is an important part of your self-catering picture, you'll find it very hard to equal that of El Noque. The room has a really open, sociable feel, thanks to its openings onto the hallway and the drawing room, where there's place aplenty for a dozen guests at its solid wooden table.
It measures in at a massive 10x4m and has a long sweep of wooden-topped surface to both sides. There's a snazzy 6-burner Smeg gas hob, electric oven, 2 fridges (you'll find one stocked with drinks on arrival), 2 dishwashers, twin sinks, masses of storage space in the fitted cupboards, every type of culinary gadget that you could possibly require as well as big piles of crockery and cutlery (yes, it's all white).
There's also a niftily crafted island on wheels, which fits perfectly through the door opening between the kitchen and dining area so that you can wheel out your creations with one flourish rather than traipse to-and-fro. And just beyond the kitchen is a utility room where you'll find an industrial-sized washing machine and dryer, a big deep freezer and yet another dishwasher.
There's a second dining area and kitchen in a shaded gazebo out by the pool; perfect for alfresco dining and food preparation. This was no mere afterthought: there's a double sink, twin fridges, oven and electric hob as well as a big custom-built BBQ. The huge round table will make for memorable poolside feasts with the distant peaks of the Grazalema mountains as backdrop.
Basic ingredients are provided (salt, pepper, bin bags, washing-up liquid, cooking oil etc) and the nearest supermarket is 5km away. You can also request a shop to be done for you in advance of your arrival. If you prefer to be pampered on holiday, sign up for chef service; El Noque has an army of great cooks on speed-dial, who can come in and rustle you up anything; each has their own specialities.
If you'd prefer to eat out, there are masses of cheap-and-cheerful ventas (country restaurants) to choose between. My favourites (I've lived in this area for more than 20 years) are El Pelistre, El Cortijo and La Polvorilla, which are all a 5-minute drive away.
Head into Ronda and you have an enormous choice of eateries. For tapas check out Faustino, Bar Giralda, Tragatapas and Bar Maestre, all close to main thoroughfare through town, whilst down in the enchanting San Franciscio quarter your first port of call should be Bodega San Francisco. For a more formal meal, Moreno is the best choice for fish whilst Almocabar does great steaks and gives a Moorish twist to a lot of its dishes.
For a big treat, grab your credit card and head for Tragabuches, which is tucked behind the bullring and is one of the few restaurants in Andalucia to have earned Michelin star status. Its 8-course menú de degustación is a culinary triumph and this place is a perfect choice for any special celebration.
El Noque couldn't be better for kids, as the owner's grand daughters would attest: they've holidayed here since they were toddlers and love it! The villa is regularly rented by families of all ages, shapes and sizes, and with the semi-private apartment option, it works well if a nanny, teenagers or grandparents come along too, as they will be able to enjoy some privacy.
The villa sleeps 10-12; 1 room holds a small single bed and others can be set up as twins or triples if needed. The separate apartment has a double bed, a sofa bed and a kitchenette.
Babysitting available by arrangement. Ask when booking.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
This is a self-catering villa with a stunning large family-sized kitchen, including babyfood-friendly blenders and a microwave. You can also book a cook if you want a night off.
The swimming pool is unfenced.