“A tranquil self-catering retreat close to one of Andalucia’s most beautiful mountain villages”
Creating the 6 guest cottages was a labour of love for Peter and Monica, the Molino’s Dutch owners. All of the base elements were locally sourced; chestnut beamed and planked ceilings, terracotta floor tiles and walls of locally-quarried red sandstone which give the buildings a really warm, integrated feel.
Each casita has a lounge and a kitchen-diner (often open-plan), and they're decorated with an appealing mix of locally crafted and antique furniture. They have a good range of comforts too: underfloor heating (and a hearth or woodburner for winter), air-con, DVD and CD players in the living room (you can borrow discs from the communal library), and a phone that communicates with the reception area. Each house has a terrace for outdoor dining, and the abundance of greenery between the cottages guarantees your privacy.
Bedrooms are simple and rustic, with iron beds and colourful bedlinen. Most have medium-sized ensuite bathrooms with pretty hand-painted sinks and Moroccan-style rain showers; just 1 has a bathtub.
The largest cottages are La Ciguena and El Conejo which can sleep 6 at a push but which are perfect for a family of 4. Both have 2 small twins (or singles) leading off from a gallery above the lounge/diner which share a shower room on the ground floor, as well as a larger double-bedded room with an ensuite bathroom; La Ciguena’s has an independent entrance.
La Zoya (sleeps up to 4) has a double and a twin, both with shower rooms and a gorgeous sweep of mountain views from its raised, half-moon terrace. La Tortuga (sleeps 5) is slightly larger with a double and a triple, both with ensuite shower rooms. Like La Zoya, it has been built on just one level.
El Aguila (sleeps 4) is rather smaller: it has a double bedroom as well as 2 single beds hoisted up on a mezzanine level above the open-plan lounge/diner and are accessed via a spiral staircase. Kids would love it, though it would also make a good choice for 2 adults. This cottage has a full length bathtub. Last and littlest is El Buho (sleeps 2); it has an open-plan, bed-sit style which makes the most of the reduced dimensions. This cosy living unit has a shower rather than bathroom.
All of the cottages’ kitchens have been really well kitted out and are much more than the afterthought that you often come across in self-catering units. Each has a gas hob, an electric oven, a microwave and a fridge (but no dishwasher); there's plenty of stainless steel cookware, cutlery and crockery, and a terrace for outdoor dining in summer. Once you’ve eaten a first supper outside, with a spectacular sunset to accompany your meal, you’ll be loath to dine anywhere else.
Peter and Monica can provide a welcome hamper of goodies; you’ll be set up for your first supper and breakfast, though you may wish to do a big shop before you arrive. They can also do interim shops for you if, for example, you are off hiking and need picnic ingredients. But half the fun of shopping in Alajar is trying out your hand at Spanish or gesticulating at what you want; expect constant good nature from those on the other side of the counter. And you can supplement your purchases with all kinds of veggies dug straight from the huerta (veggie patch), which has been lovingly planted out by Jose María, Molino’s green-fingered maestro. From mid October through to March you’ll be able to find wild mushrooms for sale in the shops, or you can go in search of your own (see Activities). Over in the reception/sitting room area you'll find a fridge full of cold drinks as well as a selection of local wines - that's in case you haven't shopped for your own drinks.
If you prefer to eat out you can walk into the village in just over 15 minutes. There are a couple of cheap-and-cheerful bars on the square where you can try the local wine with tapas. The best of them is the atmospheric Meson El Corcho which is stuffed full of curios, all made entirely from cork. There’s a second excellent restaurant in the village, El Padrino, but it is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and on Sundays for lunch. If you get a chance to eat here, don’t miss it; you can pre-book a 3-course dinner with wine-tastings through the hotel. Otherwise, for a memorable supper, drive to the next village to the east, Linares de la Sierra, and to Restaurante Los Arrieros, one of the top eateries in the Park (closed Mondays). Hardly surprising that pork - this variant stewed in white wine and onions - is the specialty.
The Molino is really well set up to cater for children. There are the dogs to walk and play with, 3 donkeys to be ridden, as well as a toddlers' paddling pool, a tennis court, boules, outdoor chess and table football. And there are a hundred adventures just waiting to happen out in the surrounding woodland. Nearly all of the cottages would suit families of 3 or 4 people, and 2 can sleep up to 6. Babysitting can be arranged and this is a place where children are treated as guests like any others, rather than a nuisance.
The largest cottages, La Ciguena and El Conejo, are good for a family of 4 and sleep up to 6. For a smaller or young family, Aquila has a special kids room (sleeping up to 2) and has books, toys and a bathtub (all others have showers).
Babysitting is available by arrangement. See Rates.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
It's self-catering and the nearest shop is 1.5km away, so you do need to get organised. There is a shopping service and child-friendly eateries nearby and the kitchen is well equipped, with a microwave and blender.
It's dog and pushchair friendly; the main downside is that you're 1.5 hours from the airport.