La Sacristia

Tarifa, Costa de la Luz, Spain Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Stylish old-town boutique hotel with a social atmosphere and flexible accommodation options
This 300-year-old Moorish tavern is tangled up the web of narrow lanes that make up old town Tarifa. The bells of nearby San Mateo chime on the hour and you’re a short walk from the castle and cathedral. True to its heritage, there’s a buzzing bar and restaurant where tables spill out on to the narrow cobbled street. We found a constant trickle of interesting characters drinking and dining here during our latest visit, and we were more than happy to while away our evening doing the same thing.

Interiors are jam-packed with eclectic curios and designer pieces. Old stone pillars hold up red-brick arches in the open-air courtyard where meals are served amongst wandering palms. Coloured silks and paper lanterns hang from the rafters in the bar and in the shop you can see the old vats that were used to store oil in ancient times. Overall, the style is uncluttered and contemporary. Rooms are upstairs in the hotel; expect an airy space which basks in sublime, earthy simplicity: voile curtains, the crispest linen, hand-woven rugs. Beyond the hotel, Tarifa is a mecca for surfers and day trips to Morocco are almost a prerequisite.


  • La Sacristia is reasonably priced and has a jovial atmosphere making it an ideal introduction to the popular town of Tarifa
  • Perfectly located for popular local activities - staff can advise and assist with bookings
  • There's a fabulous steam room and massages are available - great for anyone who's spent the day surfing
  • The beautiful old building which you get to call home for a while


  • Noise from the alleyways that encircle the hotel and bar can travel up to the rooms, particularly in high season
  • The restaurant is not open every day (especially in low season), but there are lots of tapas bars and eateries on your doorstep
  • There's no off-street parking at the hotel, but this is the same throughout the area and you’re unlikely to want to drive through these narrow lanes
  • Service in the bar and restaurant, though friendly, is not the quickest

Best time to go

Any time of year. It can get very hot in mid-summer. Winter weather is around the high teens - low 20s. The windsurfing is pretty much all year round.

Our top tips

Our 2012 revisit happened to coincide with the week of Feria: a carnival in held annually in early September. The whole town was in high spirits and we loved joining in with the celebrations, which included live music, rides, raffles and parades on horseback.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Breakfast (+ dinner some days)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Courtyard


The old tavern building houses 10 bedrooms above the courtyard, bar and restaurant.

The first-floor hotel rooms are fresh, elegant and airy, with hints of France. Mosquito nets drape fine brass beds; glass-topped bedside tables hold old mirrors and ancient shutters sit beneath beamed ceilings. A couple have French windows that open onto tiny balconies. There are woven lampshades, voile curtains, fat purple armchairs and vintage suitcases atop old armoires. Colours are neutral - white, cream, taupe - and you’ll find clay storage pots scattered about the place.

On the second floor there’s a more contemporary, oriental feel - tiled floors, white muslin curtains and Japanese table lamps. Expect a compact but beautiful mosaic-tiled bathroom (with a great power shower) and a small balcony over-looking the street. There’s also access to a shared interior roof terrace, it’s fairly modest and there are no views to speak of, but it’s nice to have the outside space.

Tarifa is a popular destination and it has a night life to match; so guests should expect some noise from the street. Higher floors are generally quieter. We stayed in Room 9 on the second floor, directly above the bar/outdoor seating area. It was noisy with the balcony doors open, but we couldn’t hear a thing when they were shut - though we did have to use the air-conditioning to cool the room down.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


This is a nicely informal hotel and you can eat pretty much wherever you want. Breakfast is served down in the interior courtyard, but if you want to eat outside or in the lounge you can. The emphasis is on fresh and healthy eating, so you get freshly-squeezed orange juice, great coffee, tea and hot chocolate, croissants and toast, ham and cheese, yoghurt, fruit and cereal.

Dinner is also pretty laissez faire and the price tag is pretty reasonable, so do book in advance (it's not open every day). You get a 3-course set menu with one choice at each stage. Thai, Indian, Moroccan and Greek all make the menu, but the day we visited it was broccoli and brie soup or flambeed chicken livers on toast, beef cooked with olives or fillets of fish in a lobster sauce, and fresh fruit or apple crumble.

Tarifa has loads of restaurants: some are good, some are bad - use your judgement and you shouldn’t go too far wrong. In particular there's an abundance of chilled-out tapas bars which really suit the town's chilled out style. Other than that, we like the hearty steaks at Vaca Loca, the fab vegetarian fare at Chilimosa, and the traditional Spanish selection at La Rocamora - you’ll find Chinese, Greek, Italian and Mexican too.

Finally, bars. The hotel bar spills out into the alleyway and you can sit out with a drink and watch the world go by. In summer lots of beach bars pop up. Hotel staff will know where. The old town of Tarifa is fairly small and if you wander for a few minutes, you’ll find somewhere good. The nightlife in town is great in summer.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby


  • Tarifa is the windsurfing capital of Europe. Kite-surfing has also taken off (which is the point, of course) and staff can recommend places to hire any kit required. If you’re a first timer, they can arrange lessons instead

  • The beaches around Tarifa are plentiful, but you’ll need a car to get out to them. Head west and try Los Lances, Dos Mares (sand dunes and hippies) and Bolonia

  • Bolonia is also good for Roman ruins (its Roman name was Baeleo Claudius). The locals were all highly vocal about the town and it is clearly their favourite beach

  • Keep going up to Vejer de La Frontera, a very pretty hilltop town that dates back hundreds of years. It has an exquisitely-preserved old town (cobbled streets, narrow lanes, long views). Arcos de La Frontera is further north, but its position on top of a sheer cliff makes it worth the detour

  • Horse riding up in the hills is easily arranged; hotel staff will help out. Quad biking is also a growing pastime over here and there are places where you can get suitable muddy

  • Head out into the Straits of Gibraltar and look for whales and dolphins. There are quite a few charter companies offering day trips, and the hotel staff will point you in the right direction

  • Day trips to Morocco are easy to arrange. It’s less than 10 miles across the Straights of Gibraltar, and the ferry service goes back and forth Tangier daily (45 minutes). Note: foot passengers pay a lot less than drivers, the ferry runs notoriously late and the timetable doesn't take into account the time difference between Spain and Tangier

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Kitesurfing
  • Nightlife
  • Surfing
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing


All ages are welcome, but the hotel is not particularly geared towards families and we didn't see any when we revisited in 2012. The hotel has lots of stairs and in high season, noise from the bar and restaurant can travel up to the rooms.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Most rooms can accommodate an extra bed or a baby cot.

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