At the edge of the Grazalema Park, surrounded by gently undulating hills
The sleepy town of Puerto Serrano lies at the edge of the Grazalema mountains, surrounded by gently undulating hills dotted with olive groves and oak forest which run east towards Ronda. To the village's west a patchwork of fields of wheat, sunflowers and cotton add further southern allure: you could only be in the deep south of Spain.
This Cortijo feels just as authentically andaluz, a modern take on the traditional cortijo theme with bedrooms and living spaces wrapped around a flagged, inner courtyard, its windows and pillars picked out in the traditional, sandy-coloured albero tones and with a roof topped with earthy-brown pantiles. This is a big, big house with a footprint of 600 square metres whilst five metre-high ceilings in its sitting/dining room and kitchen add further to that glorious sense of space.
With the main house sleeping 16 in comfort, it is perfect for a convivial get-together with a large group of friends or for a number of families wishing to holiday together. Built as a family home on an isolated ridgetop high above the Río Guadalete and the Vía Verde (a cycle path laid down along an abandoned railway line) which both cut an arc across the house's 200 hectare estate.
Arriving at the house you really feel you're leaving the tourist-beaten trail way behind as you follow a quiet country road flanked by towering agaves and prickly pear out from Puerto Serrano then on up towards the house. Horses graze beneath almond and olive trees, bee-eaters hover above sandy banks whilst the day we visited a pair of eagles circled in the sky above.
With as bucolic a setting as this you may find that you put plans to explore the surrounding towns and villages on a back burner.
Pushing aside its high, antique entrance door and entering a huge entrance hall that runs the length of the buildings façade, this is a house that feels Andalusian to the core. Decorated with antique dressers, oil paintings, engravings of the bullfight, writing tables, hunting trophies, tapestries and other family heirlooms, a low-slung Mexican table, woven mats and lanterns from Morocco along with a collection of English hunting prints add a cosmopolitan note to what otherwise feels like a cornucopia of all things Spanish.
You won't find yourself tripping over your fellow guests. At centre stage its all-in-one dining room and drawing room measures in at more than one hundred square metres. Its high, wood-beamed ceiling, brick-tiled floor (it once lay in a bodega in Jerez) and grilled windows are faithful to the southern farmhouse vernacular whilst huge, fixed panes of glass - they frame the rolling countryside that lies to the north and east of the house - are more innovative, bringing what's outside inside, and help make this room truly special.
Casablanca fans cool the air - there's also airconditioning even though you won't really need it - whilst if you're staying in the cooler months a high hearth flanked by three sofas makes for a perfect spot for hunkering down with a book. High French windows that lead out to the vast, garden-facing terrace where you're bound to be tempted to eat most of your meals alfresco.
To one side of this huge, light-filled room you'll find two more sofas and easy chairs facing a large, corner television whilst this main living space is plenty large enough for a rustic-style dining table that can seat up to 10: if required there's space aplenty to add a second table.
The vast kitchen would easily be large enough to host a cookery class, and comes fully equipped for the prepping all your in-house meals. A long run of marble-topped units wraps around three sides of the kitchen, providing a big run of surface where two or three people could work together without rubbing shoulders - and that's without making use of the marble-topped island table which stands at the room's centre.
There's a big, 5 burner gas hob above an equally large electric oven with an additional gas hob and another induction plate to either side. Twin fridge freezers are a huge plus for larger groups, especially those with kids ploughing through soft drinks, and there's a chest freezer in the adjacent laundry room where you'll also find a wine cooler.
The kitchen has all the gadgets you could possibly need along with stacks of crockery and cutlery, bread baskets, jugs, trays - you name it – There's a round dining table in one corner for a quick snack or to sit with a cup of tea.
A broad sweep of turfed lawn, dotted with ornamental olives, encompasses three sides of the house. It would be great for any type of ball game whilst being perfect for toddlers taking their first steps. At the front of the house grass gives way to gravel: ideal for a game of pétanque.
The best views are from the large, covered patio that takes in a broad panorama of the surrounding hills and the Guadalete valley. There's comfy, low slung planters-style garden furniture: you couldn't imagine a nicer spot for alfresco, yet shaded dining. The swimming pool is just out of sight, an irregular kidney shape, surrounded by a big stretch of lawn. Parents with younger kids who are prone to wander will appreciate the fact that that the whole of the pool area is fenced and gated.
Bedrooms feature a similar decorative mix as in the communal living spaces with the same terracottaladrillo (wafer brick) floors, framed prints and matching fabrics for bedspreads, curtains, pelmets and - in some rooms - wardrobe doors. All of them have Casablanca-style ceiling fans and electric radiators. Netted windows keep the insects at bay...this is a very well groomed house.
Five of the bedrooms are in the east-facing wing, looking out across the the big stretch of lawn that cradles three sides of the house.
On the ground floor are four rooms. The first of these, and the one most suitable for kids, has a small dressing room/annex with a large fitted wardrobe and four single pine-framed beds, all in a row. The room has an airy, wheelchair-friendly shower room clad in green and white tiles, some with handpainted pictures of birds that can be seen on the farm, whilst the room's floor and sink top are fashioned in white marble.
The next room along the corridor comes with twin beds backed by painted, antique bedsteads of wrought iron. The room's predominantly green and red colour scheme is mirrored in the plumage of two framed prints of parrots and in the colours of its bathroom which has a tub with a telephone shower and makes use of the same white marble for its sink unit and floor.
The twin room next door is almost identical in layout though this one is decorated in a more delicate, floral fabric. Both rooms have big, walk in wardrobes.
At the end of the corridor is a much larger room - our favourite - with a 1.8m double bed, decorated in a muted, chalky-blue fabric with its bathroom leading off from a small entrance hall.
In the same wing there's one first floor room, a twin with enormous 1.10m beds and a snazzy bathroom clad almost entirely in white marble. And tucked away beneath the stairs leading up to this room you'll find a small cloakroom.
The two remaining bedrooms are on the east side of the house. One is close to the kitchen, a patio-facing twin decorated with a delicate, flowery fabric and a shower room in the same pinky tones. The other, the only other double-bedded room, stands alone in a corner of the patio and is decorated in a bright fuchsia fabric with hand-painted wooden furniture to match. This is the only room which has a freestanding rather than a fitted wardobe whilst its shower room is slightly smaller than that of the other rooms.
Weather permitting, the swimming pool will be open throughout the year (although, because it's not heated, the normal swimming season is from late April to September, inclusive)
Rentals for this property normally run from Friday to Friday although start and finish dates can be more flexible out of high season
Additional maid service, babysitting, cooking etc. can be arranged on request (payable locally)
A 250 Euro security deposit is required on each booking. This is held against your credit or debit card and will be cancelled one week after your holiday, subject to any reductions for breakages or damage. See Terms and Conditions for full details.
2.5 km from Puerto Serrano (some facilities); 20 mins from Villamartin (most facilities) in Los Pueblos Blancos region (Province of Cádiz).
Costa de la Luz 1¼ hrs; Costa del Sol 2 hrs.
Jerez 1¼ hrs; Sevilla 1¼ hrs; Gibraltar 2¼ hrs; Málaga 2¼ hrs.
See our Links Page for web sites of airlines traveling to Andalucia from the UK.
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