If you want to share somewhere uniquely satisfying with a number of friends or family, not showy, not luxuriously modern, simply beautifully put together in a gorgeous location, this is for you.
Spread out over a huge estate of 18,000 m² with gardens galore, massive well-kept lawns and two swimming pools (one heatable), the property are in total nine bedrooms are distributed between no fewer than five houses.
The Andalucia hacienda is something of an understated masterpiece, the one-time home of an architect who made imaginative rural properties his speciality.
The design hallmarks here are generosity of spaces, quality of light and comfort, an awareness of the human requirements of practicality and intimacy, and an embracing of the rich natural world, plants and indoor gardens linking interiors with the very warm climate of the outdoor world.
One of the most reassuring aspects of the property is that after a period of being administered by managers who let standards start to slip, it is now fully back in the hands of the architect’s family. While keeping its original retro style, they have put in time, effort, expense and a lot of love to bring it back to its best – and continue to make improvements, extending the lawns, adding pool heating and a large sauna. We believe this is the key to its renewed popularity, with plenty of returning clients.
The hacienda wasn’t built in one go, but grew as an organic whole to occupy the estate grounds in an unusually green valley just 20 minutes from the coast.
It’s very beautiful with high standards, without being artificially prettified, neighboured by horses rather than people, the surrounding valley and mountains populated by wildlife, streams and a wealth of forest.
There are two swimming pools with a long season that benefits from a very warm climate.
From private parking, after driving three minutes down a maintained track, access is along a path through an inviting garden of bamboo and high fronds with a jungly feel.
From the garden, a gate opens to a lovely rear circular pool with lawns, on the other side of which is the sauna. Three of the houses – Cortijo, Westhouse and La Casita – are ranged along two sides of the pool and garden.
Cortijo, which is the main villa, and the neighbouring Westhouse share a long, broad terrace, arched and roofed, furnished with cushioned armchairs and planted with ivy and jasmine. This leads on through another gate and small patio to La Casita.
The entire estate layout with 9 bedrooms in total is as follows:
Cortijo (2 bedrooms with views for 4 people)
A lovely old door opens to a vast living area. A leather wrap-round sofa on a richly coloured rug is served by a white latticed table and large hearth, large screen TV and DVD, all under light flooding from high-set windows in an arched ceiling.
The dining area beyond seats 14 people comfortably beside a wall of windows that opens to a cooling breeze. There’s a country kitchen and a side terrace which connects to one of the two bedrooms.
The kitchen has an impressive gas-fired Leisure range to cook on and it leads out to a wonderfully large, recessed and roofed dining terrace with a tiled table for 9 people, in-built barbecue and superb views over the gardens and hills.
A discrete corner staircase has a lower door to an en suite twin bedroom (can be made up as double bed) with the terrace mentioned above; the stairs rise to a vaulted double bedroom which has great views from Juliet balconies and a mountain view from the shower.
Westhouse (2 bedrooms with views for 4 people, plus sofa bed for child)
A welcoming lobby invites takes you to a lounge where olive-green sofas are set around a low table. The ceiling is wood-beamed and not too high, lending an intimate atmosphere to the place. There are more armchairs at the window end of a kitchen and dining area, and a corner planted with an indoor garden. The accomodation faces south and is illuminated by natural light through three sets of high windows. A terrace where morning glory and bougainvillea bloom has 4 comfy chairs and a round table for eating out. The views are lovely and garden steps go down to the pool and lawns.
Inside, the two en suite bedrooms are separated onto different levels. Upstairs is a very spacious, high-vaulted twin bedroom, carpeted in ivory white, with views of the gardens and hills. The bathroom’s stained glass panel bears a jungle scene with monkeys. Downstairs, in a large open-plan room, a double bed is part-screened from a dressing room which can easily be converted to a child’s sleeping area, and open to here is a full bathroom. French windows open to the views.
La Casita (1 bedroom for 2 people, plus sleeping area for child)
The house is entirely open plan (except for the WC), making it a romantic favourite with couples, and unsuitable really for anyone else… It’s all on one floor except for a couple of internal steps. A cushioned reading corner, sofa, dining table and daybed provide different places to sit and relax. It’s the only north-facing house, yet receives plenty of light through well-placed windows. The kitchen is simple and there are not the same views as you get in the other houses, but there are several things we liked about this little house, especially the strikingly large bathroom of mirrors with its burnished tiles, jacuzzi bath, orange Chinese lanterns, giant yucca, door out to the pool and giant conch soap shells; also the vaulted ceiling, the smooth bare stone wall dividing internal spaces and the flyscreen door that slides open easily.
The two other houses are Carmen and Mario. Carmen completes the raised, south-facing buildings begun by Westhouse and Cortijo. Mario is tucked away on its own in a private corner of the bottom lawn.
Carmen (3 bedrooms with views for 6 people)
Reached via its own garden path from parking, Carmen is distributed on three levels. The entrance level is given over to an open-plan arrangement of a living space with a deep blue sofa and armchairs, dining area with wood dining table and kitchen. There are colourful abstract paintings and a horse theme in other artwork.
From the kitchen, steps go down to the house’s pièce de resistance and, in our opinion, the sweetest spot in the entire hacienda. It’s a sitting area of four cushioned armchairs with table on a small garden terrace, very private, planted round with flowering shrubs and shaded by foliage. It feels and looks lovely. Its raised position makes it a vantage point for views over the massive gardens, main swimming pool and out to the mountains. Beautiful!
The upper level has a twin bedroom (can be made up as a double) with a super view from the bed. It has a sofa bed, Juliet balcony and open plan shower room. The lower level with its two double bedrooms (sharing another bathroom) has access to both the garden terrace and the upper of the hacienda’s interconnecting lawns.
Interconnecting is a key concept here. Just when you think you’ve discovered everything, a pathway and steps lead round, up and down, joining one part of the property with another.
Mario (1 bedroom with view for 2 people, plus sleeping area for child)
On the lower of four long and wide green lawns that slope into each other and provide an apt setting for the main swimming pool (heated in cool months), Casa Mario is the most private of all the houses. It is reached from a separate driveway and you may in fact drive across the broad lawn to park outside in the shade of the squat palm tree.
This garden cottage has a vine-covered, furnished terrace with pretty views of lawn and hills. It was the first of these houses designed by Aubrey David and his personal base and retreat. It’s all open plan and more or less square. Under the vaulted, beamed ceiling are a lovely old leather sofa, attractive cast iron stove, and a daybed by a large corner window where a child can sleep. The double bedroom is on a slightly higher level and curtained off from the living room. The bed is solidly wood-framed, there’s a fitted wardrobe, open plan shower and tall windows out to the garden. The house has its own kitchen facilities.
Taking all normal parental precautions, the hacienda is a property where children of all ages can be brought and enjoy themselves immensely.
The main swimming pool is 11 m x 4.5 metres and heatable in cool months. It has a shallow area where parents can play with young children.
The rear, circular pool is 10 metres across and doors and gates can be closed to keep young children from this area.
Both pools are filled with spring water and the same drinking water is piped to all the house taps.
The houses all have dual air conditioning in summer and air heating in winter and some have wood stoves. TV is satellite with Sky. There is WiFi internet at the estate, although do note that it doesn’t work everywhere.
All areas of the hacienda are bright and airy, with plenty of natural light coming through the many regular, French and even high windows, some of which are not curtained.
With sandy Mediterranean beaches only 20 minutes away and even more exciting Atlantic strands further west at Tarifa, a mecca for windsurfers, the hacienda is a very attractive proposition.
A short drive away are four satisfyingly different country restaurants that offer a range of very good food. And Casares is a delightful village, with all manner of local shops and a pleasure to stroll around. Its position, perched on a promontory with impressive views, adds to its charms.
Local golf courses are among the best in Europe. Nearby Finca Cortesin held the 2012 World Match Play Championship and there are many more courses to choose from at the coast. The climate allows for a round of golf, or horse riding, easily arranged locally, at any time of the year.
The valley area, home to aquifers, is a green and genuinely rural corner of Malaga province, well suited to walks and countryside exploring.
Children may be interested to know that the jungly Selwo Wildlife Adventure Park is only 30 minutes away. Footpaths with rope-bridges or a truck safari take you to flamingoes, monkeys, elephants, bears, giraffes, Bengal tigers and a batcave.