Hidden away at the end of a private drive, this country farmhouse property of dignity and distinction offers an elegant, natural environment and an ideal location, halfway between famed Granada and beaches of the Costa Tropical.
It's all on its own, so succinctly secluded that John Le Carré chose to stay here when writing his novel, "The Constant Gardener".
An iron gate from private parking leads you directly through to a long, cobbled terrace, which opens at the far end of the villa into a vast, sunny, open space, well-furnished and with night-time illumination. Standing in the shade of a giant Aleppo pine, you can spy the local village below and the view stretches right across the valley.
You enter the villa to a reception corner, where a table is piled with maps, books, walking guides – an immediate invitation to explore the environs. Antique furniture is ranged about on the original red-and-white lozenge floor, and this stretches to the end of a high, wood-ceilinged room where a sitting area has comfy sofas and chairs.
Midway along the room is a coffee table whose chairs are positioned to take in the view through a picture window.
A warm, sun-filled Andalusian climate obtains here, so windows may be thrown open to let a breeze play through the downstairs rooms, while any hint of cold is kept well at bay during the brief winter by central heating throughout.
The separate dining room has a table that extends to seat twelve people. It’s contiguous with an extremely good kitchen supplied with stacks of crockery, pots and pans, and it opens at the back to a rear garden, where steps rise to a gazebo in a patio planted round with rosemary, thyme, roses and a pretty mimosa. Also out the back is a laundry room.
A signal advantage of holidays here is the way household chores are taken out of your hands by Pepa, the maid, who provides you with two hours of domestic help a day, except Sunday. For two hours every morning you can forget about cleaning, bed-making and breakfast serving. Extra hours can be contracted if you want help with shopping or cooking.
Back inside, a staircase goes up to the first floor and its five attractive, very comfortable bedrooms. Mattresses are high quality, sheets are smooth cotton and there are double feather pillows. In wardrobes, you’ll find bathrobes and slippers.
All bedrooms have their own bathroom. Note that the fifth and final bedroom, suitable for two children, can only be accessed through the fourth, double bedroom.
The accommodation is consummately pleasing inside, although the Andalucian climate is likely to see you outside a great deal of the time. Whether on the main terrace with its swing seat and views of the valley and the orange and olive orchard below which belongs to the property, in the rear patio and gazebo, and especially in the pool garden.
The swimming pool has a lawn for sunbathing, poolside shower and is mosaic-walled. It’s reached up garden steps and is a private, understandably favourite spot. The pool garden area has a gate, but there are gaps in the hedge so we don't count the perimeter as toddler-proof.
To the rear stands another house, but this belongs to the same owners, and their apartment (if occupied by them), doesn’t overlook you. The arrangement is designed for you to have total privacy.
Bread and croissants can be delivered daily and a fish seller comes by most days, too. Catering can often be provided by Pepa, the maid. Her cooking has been much praised by previous guests for whom she has prepaed meals. Pepa is very good at typical Andalusian dishes and some specifically local ones. She buys the ingredients and cooks the meal, being quite happy to explain her methods as best she can in simple English.
An arrival meal can also be provided if booked in advance.
Otherwise, the local village is a 5-minute walk. It has basic shopping and a couple of bar-restaurants. Albuñuelas is extremely tranquil except for 5 days in August (normally the second week in the month), when the village celebrates its annual fiesta. This can be heard from the villa in case you need to know for complete peace-and-quiet.
Other nearby villages in the valley, joined by country lanes, provide more interesting opportunities to sample genuine Andalucian cooking, and you’re only 30 minutes from large superstores if you want to do a major shop.
The valley setting is one of the main sources of oranges in Granada: you see them everywhere, lemons, too, and almonds. It’s a warm, fertile countryside, where the locals tend to take things pretty easily.
Visitors here appreciate the strategic location: it's just around 40 minutes to the coast for beaches, and less than that to delightful Granada and Lanjarón, gateway to Las Alpujarras.