It's normal for two families, or two couples, holidaying together to also appreciate some privacy at the same time and that's what's on offer here.
The two rural cottages with pool are offered together as a single property in private grounds of rich cork oak and chestnut forest. These two cottages are not rented separately.
Deliberately rustic, intentionally affordable, in the complete peace-and-quiet of the Aracena forest: that’s the concept and that’s the reality. Forget high tech for a week or so: this is for couples or families who want to enjoy a hidden-away beauty spot.
At Rustical Travel, we accept some luxury villas but we’re also keen to encourage genuine, well-looked after rural cottages. Especially when they come in a fabulous natural setting like this.
For a completely secluded four-bedroomed property, the price is extremely fair.
The entire estate is privately yours. You enter by gates, and once inside you feel yourselves the albeit temporary lords of your own modest manor. This region of Andalucia rarely disappoints visitors thanks to its beauty and level of preservation. No chemicals are used here and smallholder farming is successful.
The houses face east to catch the morning sun and are separated by some 80 metres, which we thought was just right: plenty of privacy, but close enough to feel that you are together.
Children will love dashing back and forth between the cottages to visit each other. As long as normal precautions are taken and the children are not tech-addicts, this property is an exciting place for youngsters to holiday.
Each cottage has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan main room and a simple but adequate kitchen for self-catering.
They’re very similar in virtually all respects, although for eating together Cottage 1 has a larger living and dining area which can seat six people, arguably eight at a push.
More importantly, we thought, the outdoor porch can be set up on request to seat eight people for meals together.
Positioned between the cottages, 40 metres from each, is the pool. It’s not a large one, but very nice and inviting, as the private forest setting is simply thrilling.
The pool is not gated and has a small drop which, although not significant, families with small children may want to take into consideration. The pool area benefits from natural shade, not parasols. It’s very natural and the views are immensely relaxing.
Both cottages were old, traditional buildings, now fully restored respecting local architectural style. They are rustical and well-kept. Plenty of windows to let in the sunlight, making the place feel bright and cheerful. Wooden floors in the upstairs rooms, terracotta downstairs, house plants, beams on ceilings and attractive pebble mosaics at the entrance make for naturally warm, simple and pleasant, tasteful accommodation.
Expect the enjoyment of simplicity here.
Bedrooms are ample. There are latex mattresses (we personally found them comfortable) and a bathroom for every bedroom. We did note that some windows are not properly curtained off or shuttered, so light can’t be totally blocked out. Wardrobe space is limited to shelves but adequate space is provided.
The true luxury here is the setting. Aracena’s beautiful Natural Park is home to some of the loveliest estates in Southern Spain. The terrain is fertile and thickly wooded. Hills are gentle and the climate normally moderate. Long, sunny summers combine with wet winters to ensure that nature and vegetation thrive here.
When we inspect a new property, we also survey the surrounding area to see if holidaymakers might be disturbed by noise. This is one location where it’s hard to imagine how there could be anything but idyllic tranquillity. The property is set in 20,000 m² of woods with no other neighbours than the owner, who lives some 7 minutes’ walk away on another, unseen, plot of land, so your privacy is total. Occasionally, some pool maintenance and plant watering may be necessary, but it is carried out with extreme discretion and respect for your privacy.
The track to the estate is rural and just like all tracks in Andalucia, lack of rain makes it dusty in summer, a bit loose and bumpy, but perfectly negotiable in any normal car.
It’s just about feasible to walk down to Galaroza village, but we reckon it must take 25 minutes and so much easier to drive. It’s a simple village in well-preserved surroundings with a couple of places to have a drink and eat, and a little shop acting as a mini-supermarket.
Fifteen minutes by car brings you to Aracena, the market town for the Sierra, where there are good places to eat out, large supermarkets, a castle, café-bars with WiFi, and a wonderful subterranean grotto.
This is a lesser known region of Andalucia and you’re unlikely to come across many tourists. Throughout the summer village fiestas are a convivial way of getting to know the local culture and share in the food and drink.
Pretty villages and walks abound in Sierra de Aracena and exploring them is one of the principal reasons for choosing Aracena as a destination. Of the smaller villages, Jabugo is just ten minutes from your estate. The name of this village is famed throughout Spain for its exquisite free-range Iberian cured ham, a worldwide delicacy. You will see the black pigs who are to thank for this roaming the woods in semi-freedom, where they feed on acorns.
Other excursions take you in three quarters of an hour to the fascinating Rio Tinto mines and to Portugal, where another world awaits your discovery.