Our Off-The-Beaten-Track Guide to Spain
Chatting to a couple of customers at Pen & Gravy v Modernish's fabulous Feb party last week, I was asked for my top recommendations to Spain. So, in the hopes it might be of interest to more of you (and give a boost to the Spanish economy) here are my top tips:
Having returned in Feb to visit the annual Cevisama tile fair, I'll admit to being completely and utterly charmed by the place. Not only does it seem the cheapest and quickest place to get to from the UK, it's a city that really has it all: fab climate, beach, old town, quirky independent shops, bars playing great music everywhere, beautiful parks (including a dry riverbed turned into a garden that runs around the city). I arrived courtesy of EasyJet one balmy (yes, balmy!) February night, took the metro to Alameda, exited in said garden and strolled up to my 'bed & breakfast' tucked within a beautiful old building just behind the cathedral. It turned out to be a five minute walk from the Museum of Modern Art, the Jardines de Real and countless other landmarks, too. If you'd like to check out the stylish and incredibly good value Almirante, find out more here. Bliss.
2: Priego de Cordoba
Little-known town about an hour south of Cordoba nestling among some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Priego Old Town is at the top of a hill and looks over a breathtaking valley and roads leading down to Malaga and Granada. Actually, Priego is almost right in the centre of Malaga, Granada and Cordoba (about an hour from each) and not too far from Seville, either. No wonder I felt like I was in the middle of the world the first time I visited! Hostal Rafi is my favourite place to stay - there's a pretty courtyard and a lively, friendly bar downstairs which is a perfect place for breakfast, supper and probably lunch. Rafi the owner has a penchant for classic American music and was playing Tracey Chapman and Bruce Springstein the first time I stayed. A great place to sit, work and people-watch (free WiFi).
3. Ubeda and Baeza
Incredible Renaissance towns, well off the beaten track to the North of Andalucia...
4. Granada. Well, we all know about Granada, but it really does feel like the most magical place, especially around the Albacin. Check out the hamman and Arab tearooms at the bottom of the Albacin. Top tips for inexpensive but stylish accommodation: http://www.pensionsuecia.com. And for more pricey but heavenly, with a view of the Alhambra and a swimming pool next door, the wonderful Apartamentos Turísticos Alhambra. Then, if you happen to drive down to 5, below, you really should stop for petrol at the Mora Services with a fabulous restaurant/café, complimentary tapas and views of the Sierra Nevada.
5. Almeria and Lubrin
For a taste of authentic village Spain at the bargain price of £275 a week for a classic old 'cortijo' sleeping five people, visit a charming but basic cottage in the town of Lubrin. More details here