It's no surprise that this location has become one of the most popular with our holidaymakers in the last two years. Here you at the heart of Asturias and yet only 25 minutes from unspoilt, sandy beaches. The setting just above the little riverside town of Arriondas is exceptional, affording views north and south: to the Sierra del Sueve that rises just before the sea, and, most impressively, to the central massif of the Picos de Europa.
Just as important is the standard of accommodation and here it is the best we have come across in Cider Country.
The self-catering cottage sits on its own with the uninterrupted views over the hillside to the mountain peaks that you see in the photos. It’s very peaceful. A cow's bell gently clonking is about the only sound you’re likely to notice.
You have two covered terraces, one with that view and another that’s almost nicer, tucked away to one side with comfortably cushioned seating and a good gas barbecue.
The cottage has been professionally furnished and decorated with the kind of taste that makes you feel leisurely at home without overdoing it. The large sofa in the living room is by Hanbel and the retro-looking armchairs by Becara, complemented by rugs on the wood floor, while wooden walls painted in a restful clay-green create a thoroughly cozy atmosphere.
Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors invite plenty of natural light into the downstairs living and dining areas. At nighttime, a variety of lamps and overhead lights allow you to illuminate the house to your own personal preference.
The kitchen is floored with tiles brought from Cordoba and wallpapered in English floral style. The kitchen equipment and dining service is very complete. As one previous guest commented, 'You only have to open a drawer and you find what you looking for'. The main cooker is incorporated into a central work space for prepping and the fridge-freezer is extra-large.
There are dining tables and chairs for eating inside or out, as the fancy takes you. The Arriondas microclimate (the town is only 40 m above sea level) is very mild and dryer than elsewhere in Asturias, so you may often prefer to dine al fresco.
Upstairs the wooden cottage feel continues from a landing into the two bedrooms:
A beautifully spacious double-bedded room with a lovely view of the Picos and its own en suite bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and separate walk-in shower.
A second bedroom that can be made up with twin beds or as a king-size double bed. It has the same view (a joy to wake up to) and an en suite shower room. A sofa bed here can sleep a child.
The mattresses are very comfortable and even the cotton bedlinen is a cut above the average.
This is a place to get away from it all and enjoy natural Asturias. A pair of binoculars is provided for spotting birds and walking begins directly outside. The house itself doesn’t have a green garden, but you can step out directly into the fields and explore.
Paths criss-cross and quiet country roads take you past some impossibly quaint stone cottages and hamlets. The typical local architecture is reminiscent of doll’s houses with its balustraded galleries and flowers.
Asturias is a good place to get deliberately lost in. It’s such a slim mountainous region, running west-to-east but on different levels, that you can go from the high mountain pass at Mirador del Fitu, for example, down to the pretty beach of la Isla in 10 minutes. That’s just 30 minutes from AT24.
Other beaches running from Lastres to Ribadesella (and to Llanes beyond) are just as natural and attractive. Unlike southern and eastern Spain, the coastline hasn’t been built up: the Asturians care too much for their land to let that happen.
Children will almost certainly want to visit the Jurassic Museum at Lastres and hunt for fossilized dinosaur footprints on La Griega beach just below.
The Picos de Europa are perhaps an even greater draw than beaches. The snow-topped mountains offer a classic walk along the Cares defile, and high glacial lakes above Covadonga.
For walking, though, your local area is easier on the legs and just as satisfying, with the peaks glistening in the distance, turning pink in the setting sun. And closer than Picos for hikes is Sierra del Sueve, home to the unique Asturcon horse.
Local Arriondas town itself is a very pleasant place for walks along the river. The broad River Sella is best known these days for kayaking and river rafting and you can rent boats very easily at any time of year, with children accompanied by monitors. Arriondas has a train station for the little FEVE train that goes all the way (albeit slowly) to the coast at Llanes.
The town has everything you need by way of shops and other practicalities, and a Saturday market. There are two Michelin-starred restaurants in Arriondas, although our recommendations for dining out would be more authentic, cheaper and just as good: a local cider establishment (there’s so much to say about this area that we almost forget to point out that you are in Cider Country), and the restaurant overlooking the river at a grand old hotel.
Rustical Travel clients can use the free WiFi at the hotel, whether you order a drink or not. This is a useful facility for the months when there's no WiFi at AT24.
The house has mod cons such as underfloor central heating for winter holidays. It’s warm and inviting at any time of year.
A week here can be as restful or as imaginatively filled as you wish. Our Guide to Cider Country & Sierra del Sueve will be one of the holiday documents you receive before travelling.
It goes even further off the beaten track than mentioned here; just 20 minutes by car brings you into Ponga and, in our opinion, some of the most extraordinary landscapes anywhere in Spain.
Drive along the almost daunting Beyos defile and you will find the wild cousin to the Picos that few people know exists and fewer ever enter. Unpopulated gorges, sheer rock faces, springy-grassed hillsides to ramble, wild forest, and view after view of endless peaks that are ultimately lost to sight in inaccessible territory of the province of León.
Around Oseja de Sajambre you can find hamlets in another, forgotten time and people living entirely off the land.