We always look forward to going back to Galicia and especially this area across the border from Portugal, which we have come to realize is one of the great undiscovered regions of northern Spain.
Warmer than the rest of the north (the weather is generally good), it’s all about undeveloped green hills and forests, stone cottages, old towns on a swimmable river and plenty of reasons to drive the 25 minutes to the coast.
The food and wine in this welcoming Celtic land happen to be rather good, too.
This impeccable villa is located in the rural centre of a tempting triangle formed by three historic towns: Tui, Baiona and La Guardia.
Doubly tempting, because the three sides of the triangle are the broad River Miño bordering Portugal, the Atlantic coast (a lovely drive), and the unspoilt Galician interior.
The villa is spacious and neat, tasteful and well-equipped. Some of our holiday homes in northern Spain are genuinely rustic, but that’s not the case here. Expect the standards of a quality hotel with a more homely feel.
To enhance the sense of a hotel service, the villa owner, a retired university professor who lives in the neighboring house, will be pleased to offer you the benefit of his considerable knowledge and insights into the area where you are staying. Your privacy is, of course, respected, but we know that many people will appreciate the unique guidance that such a genial host can provide.
We liked the clarity of natural light in the rooms, and the meticulous presentation, which is given as much attention as the facilities. Good illumination, chunky furniture, extra-comfy armchairs and sofas, quality fabrics and mattresses go hand-in-hand with a modern kitchen, terraces with views of the countryside and a chlorine-free swimming pool.
The living and dining areas are downstairs and three en suite bedrooms upstairs.
A reception lobby leads you to a large living-dining room with two sitting areas to choose between and relax comfortably, and doors opening to the terraces and their relaxing views into the natural surroundings. It is all very elegant with a touch of class.
The kitchen is fully equipped, including dishwasher, and fitted out with wooden cupboards, a Brazilian stone worktop, and table and chairs for four. There's a utility room on the same ground floor.
The three upstairs bedrooms are all spacious, with wooden floors and access to furnished terraces. We always test the beds and these have high quality mattresses; the beds are also wider than average which we consider another plus.
We liked the smooth wood floors which lend the three bedrooms a distinct warmth. The ceilings slope but are not low: everyone except basketball players will find there’s plenty of head clearance.
There’s a nice atmosphere by day or night, when a choice of lamps and indirect lighting make for an intimate atmosphere.
For outdoor living, the garden terrace area is set with simple but quality seating, parasols and unusually fine stone-built barbecue, beautifully finished with hand tiles made in nearby Portugal.
There’s a lovely, kidney-shaped, private swimming pool, whose copper filter system keeps the water crystalline and chlorine-free. There are a couple of loungers for those sunny days when all you want to do is relax.
The swimming pool and its garden are totally private to the gated villa, which also has private parking and entrance.
The English-speaking owner, who is both helpful and hospitable, also invites you to share and enjoy the rest of the gardens and the pergola. He is on hand if needed, although on your villa’s reception room desk, you’ll find a dossier with comprehensive local information (and a visitors’ book full of encouraging comments).
On our last trip to the villa, we spent two days indulging in the many varied beauties on offer here, which include absorbing the different cultures of Galicia and Portugal. We already knew the area, but there are always new things to discover.
To begin with, the property is located on a hillside and you can pretty much start walking from the doorstep. Around and about, you’ll come across a variety of landscapes; hills and forests running down to rivers and beaches. The surrounding hills give you extraordinary views over the River Miño estuary to Portugal.
Just 10 minutes away, the Miño River and its banks provide plenty of enjoyment for children. Swimming the slow river is common here and kayaking is also possible. Other local activities are cycle hire and horse riding.
The quiet country lane where the villa is situated continues to a good road that links several places of interest. Passing Tomiño, which is your main reference for shopping and eating out, you have the choice of heading east to the delightful and historic cathedral town of Tui, or west to La Guardia on the coast, popular for its fish and seafood restaurants and beaches.
A round trip drive taking the pretty coast road up to Baiona with its fortress and more sandy beaches (we reckon Baiona is even better for restaurants), and back through the interior makes for a quite a day out.
From Baiona, a boat goes out to the idyllic Cies Islands, a Natural Park whose fine sand is almost Caribbean, although don't be fooled into expecting tropical water temperatures...
Portugal is even closer and fascinating to explore, not just for the beaches there – although they’re very good – but also for the villages which are remarkably pretty and unspoilt, full of charm and character. You’ll find Portugal even more laid-back and cheaper than Spain.
There’s another great day out to be had combining a drive round the borderlands and coast of northern Portugal and coming back to Galicia on the informal little car ferry from Caminha to continue almost directly up to Celtic hilltop ruins at La Guardia.