Blessed with a semi-tropical climate that invites to holidays all year round, Mojacar on Andalucia's east coast has an exotic quality that permeates even the slightly tacky beach area, where rival outlets vie with each other to tempt you with Spanish paellas and Greek salads, pizzas and curries, bicycles and horseriding, ice cold drinks at funky beachfront hang-outs: you name it.
Above here, and looking down on it all, in a tasteful, relaxed hillside neighbourhood of independent properties, this villa offers all the simplicity of Mediterranean living, with peaceful privacy, and a pool that will soothe away all the accumulated cares of exams and office deadlines.
If you want to keep your holiday natural, there are wild sandy beaches to discover and the unique Almerian interior: an arid mountain landscape where lonely roads snake out through hazy valleys and dry gullies as far as a desert where Westerns were once filmed: it's quite unlike the rest of Andalucia.
Furnishings are simple: the villa is clear, clean and uncluttered, left deliberately bare of unnecessary decoration so that you don’t have the owner's tastes imposed on you.
Minimal clutter accentuates a maximal setting, making the villa as light and well-balanced as a Mediterranean diet.
The design allows you to pass freely between indoor and outdoor spaces, and from the kitchen to dining and sitting areas. The property layout is great.
French windows lead out to a shaded verandah: the favoured spot for dining, up a few steps from the swimming pool, and with views down to the Mediterranean Sea.
The day starts with a spectacular sunrise as the sun lifts from the sea, and you're most likely not to have a cloud in the sky. You truly enjoy the sea from the inside and the outside of this villa.
In spite of the dry climate –from Spring to Autumn rain is virtually unheard of in Mojacar– temperatures aren't extreme, and there are summer sea breezes.
In July and August, the hottest hours average 31⁰C: very warm indeed, but considerably fresher than elsewhere in Southern Spain. In winter, the coldest weeks average a balmy 17⁰C.
The villa manages very well without air conditioning and only one of the bedrooms needs (and has) a fan. Just in case, though, there are two other electric fans.
The accommodation is almost entirely on one level, with just a few steps up to bedrooms, or down to the pool and its terrace.
The swimming pool is a beauty. Part-shaded by a pepper tree and festooned with bougainvillea, its turquoise 9 by 4 metres contrast with the deeper blue of the sea in the background.
Steps lead down gently into water that has an infinity effect. The pool is kept open year round, and while winter swims will be properly cold, when we were there in the month of March, we measured the pool water at a very nice 18⁰C.
There's night lighting, a hot water pool shower, and you're not directly overlooked.
In addition to the sunbeds by the pool, there are timber decks on either side of the pool. They aren’t cushioned –this villa isn't about plush luxury– but they're a terrific spot to park oneself with a cold drink and gaze out at the crumpled orange mountains, Mojacar village nestled atop its rounded hill, and the gentle Mediterranean in the east.
The villa is fully self-catering, while the resort area offers a wide variety of cuisine catering to all international tastes.
If you don't want to drive (the villa has 2 shaded car parking spaces, by the way), one convenient place to eat out is a Irish-run restaurant less than 5 minutes walk away. It is a cozy and charming bar restaurant.
Once you're settled in and changed into T-shirts and sandals, it's interesting to descend the one mile to Mojacar Playa: a long, long beach fronted by all manner of food vendors, activity agencies, sophisticated restaurants, chill-out venues, beach bars and discos.
This part of Mojacar is developed for tourism, and you won't have to know Spanish, but the commercialism can be amusingly amateur. There are no high rise apartment blocks such as you find on the Costa del Sol and service at restaurants is typically nonchalant.
Teenagers will enjoy the fun and razzamatazz by night, especially if their parents are kind enough pick them up from the beach road roundabout below the villa afterwards, rather than have to trek back up the hill…
There's also plenty of open, soft, sandy beach where it's easy to simply park and swim. Playgrounds in the sand are ideal for children, and little detours down beach roads will lead you to natural, rocky seascapes and coves.
Follow the coast road south and you’ll find one sandy beach after another. Past Carboneras is Cabo de Gata, where some of Andalucia's finest strands are to be found in protected and volcanic Natural Parkland.
Drive inland one hour, don a cowboy hat, chew on a cheroot, and that dry, dusty road will lead you into a strangely familiar desert landcape. Does it remind you of "The Good, the Bad and The Ugly"? Make no doubt about it: this is where Sergio Leone directed Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in what some would call cinema's best-known paella western. Brigitte Bardot, Anthony Quinn, Claudia Cardinale and Orson Welles have all starred here.
The movie set has been preserved and is open to visitors, complete with Wild West saloon and actors playing out mock gunfights. It's irresistible fun. The theme park motif spills over into a zoo and an aquatic park with swimming pools and toboggans.
Journalist Liz Todd spent a family holiday at this villa and wrote this article: A rural villa in Spain's picturesque Andalucia.