Siete Balcones

Vejer de la Frontera, Costa de la Luz, Spain Book from

Creative, arty and very affordable self-catering rooms in the heart of Vejer's labyrinthine old town centre
If you adhere to the 'Small is Beautiful' adage, this 3-bedroom guesthouse should be just the ticket. There are, indeed, 7 splendid balconies opening out to the winding streets of old Vejer, along with just 3 bedrooms wrapped round the flag-stoned courtyard, plus a reading room and leafy roof terrace for lazy siestas. Bryony and Wanda - ceramic artists from Britain and Madrid respectively - renovated the building to highlight its period features, then added a splash of urbane sophistication through 50s furnishings and eye-catching works of art, brightly coloured fabrics and kilims. The resulting mix feels intimate, light-hearted and uplifting.

Guests at Siete Balcones mark their own rhythm, though the owners are discreetly on hand should you want for anything. You come and go as you would in your own home. Use the kitchenettes to make your breakfast, grab a book from the shelf, then chill on the rooftop terrace with its sweeping views across the rooftops of old Vejer. And put time aside for wandering Vejer's plexus of narrow streets: this is one of Andalucia's most bewitching towns.

Highs

  • Vejer has seen a real Noughties renaissance and has a highly infectious buzz about it
  • You're plum in the centre of town, yet 7 Balcones couldn't be more peaceful
  • Fresh, stylish bedrooms, some with sitting areas and kitchenettes, all with a great price tag
  • Superb tapas bars and restaurants just a shake away from your doorstep, and beautiful beaches a short drive away
  • A peaceful haven as no children under 16 are allowed (of course, this is a Low for some)

Lows

  • A bit of a schlepp with your suitcases: streets in old Vejer weren't conceived with cars in mind and finding a parking space can be tricky
  • No meals are served, but all rooms have access to a private or shared kitchenette
  • No twin rooms - this place is aimed at couples
  • Room 2 is pretty small, at 15 sq.m. (but it is cheaper)

Best time to go

Vejer is worth a visit at any time of year, and its proximity to the sea means that even in summer, it rarely gets unpleasantly hot. The beach season normally kicks off around mid May and extends until early October.

Our top tips

However many nights you've put aside for your visit to Vejer, add a few more. A week would be my minimum, 10 days perfect, even 2 weeks not excessive. This is one of the most beautiful southern Spanish towns, and the recent arrival of a sizeable ex-pat population has helped foster a surprisingly vibrant culinary scene. And with the beach and mountains within easy driving distance, you can really experience the best of both inland and coastal Andalucia.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
City Style
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 3
  • Self-catering
  • Over 12s only
  • Closed: 11 Dec 2016 - 14 Apr 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

We visited Siete Balcones shortly after it opened, and were given a choice of rooms. We plumped for Room 3, though I'd have been just as happy in the others. Room 1 leads off the ground-floor courtyard while rooms 2 and 3 are up on the next floor. These share a larger kitchenette, next to the sitting-cum-breakfast room.

All-white walls, wrought iron balcony rejas (railings) and geometric tiles are in the best Andaluz tradition, whilst the pick-and-mixing of patchwork kilims, tongue-in-cheek paintings, classic film posters and one-off furnishings from the 50s adds a postmodern note. Expect candles, single stems in glass vases, and fine Portuguese bed linen topped by throws and a double bank of pillows. There's a dock for your iPod, WiFi and an overhead fan to keep things cool during the fierce Spanish summer: no air-con, but the thick outer walls do the job.

Shower bathrooms are just as lovely, with walls of polished tadlakt and surface-top sinks created by Bryony and Wanda in situ. You'll find snowy white towels, a big vanity mirror and chunky bottles of olive oil-based shower gel and shampoo.

Bedrooms vary in configuration, following the dictates of the house's original floor plan. Moroccan-coloured Room 1 is the largest; it faces the street and has a queensize double bed, and a table where you may choose to breakfast. Room 3 (thanks to its shared kitchenette next door) has space for a chaise longue and a beautiful 50s easy chair. Room 2 is the smallest, at 15 sq.m., but its high ceiling and French window brings in the Atlantic light, and its partially open-plan bathroom maximises space.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • IPod dock (on request)
  • Iron (on request)
  • Kitchenette
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Each kitchenette - room 1 has its own, rooms 2 and 3 share one - has an extensive range of gleaming breakfast gadgetry: kettle, toaster, juicer, coffee maker and a gizmo to heat then froth the milk for your cappuccino. You can eat in your room, in the breakfast room, or on the roof terrace.

When it comes to lunch and dinner you couldn't be better placed: Vejer punches well above its weight in the food stakes. Bryony and Wanda's top recommendation is Casa Varo, which brings a creative and lighter touch to traditional gaditano cuisine (think carpaccio of tuna, sautéed artichokes, brochette of monkfish). Both the fish and meat are top notch, and for a good part of the year you can dine alfresco on the terrace.

I've long been a fan of Casa Califa, whose Middle Eastern and North African-inspired dishes make a nice change - and its walled garden has a real feel of Arabian Nights. And should you fancy local flavour, wander down to the enchanting Plaza de España to Cervecería Garimba for excellent fish and a big range of mouthwatering tapas.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander through the medieval quarter of Vejer with its labyrinthine cobbled streets, stopping for tapas when you get peckish

  • Head to the beach: both Caños de Meca and El Palmar, just 15 minutes' drive from Vejer, have superb sandy stretches

  • Hike the beautiful cliff path from Caños de Meca to Barbate, indulge in a big fish feast for lunch, then jump in a taxi to return to your car

  • Spend a day exploring Cádiz, one of the oldest and most fascinating cities in Europe. Don't miss the cathedral, 18th-century watchtower and the ancient Roman theatre

  • Head for the nearby Montenmedio country club where you can ride, play golf or visit its exhibitions of contemporary paintings and sculpture

  • For bird-watching, cycling and walking head to Los Alcornocales National Park, or take a day trip to the beautiful Grazalema Natural Park, setting time aside to stop over in Medina Sidonia

  • Try your hand at sea kayaking, just along the coast in Sancti Petri

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Not suitable for bambinos but children over 12 are welcome

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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