Hotel Review x 2 – Spanish Costa Weekend – Budget and Luxury

You might be wondering about the title: it’s simple really. We chose to stay at two properties for a coastal break in one Spanish coastal destination, picking top-rated properties at both ends of the scale, budget, and luxury. What did we find? Read on!

Scoring high

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Ever use the rating system on these booking websites? We do, in fact, we tend to book depending on other people’s views and recommendations. Word of mouth is better of course, but choosing somewhere new to go means we rely on this little 8s and 9s – in fact, I would not book anywhere not in the top 20%. It doesn’t always work – we have stayed in several squeaking bed ‘suites’ that have left a lot to be desired!

The destination

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Salobreña was the point of the pin on the map back on a very hot late May weekend, and we rode the Harley down from our home in Granada to the fresh and breezy Costa Tropical. Previously only for a stretch of the legs on the Málaga airport run, a trek up to the castle, or to see my daughter dance in the Traditional Trovo group from Murtas. Up to now, Salobreña featured as an away day rather than a layover type of stop – but Mick and I love a weekend away and it’s nice and close. With a history stretching back 6000 years, old and new towns to explore and 5 beaches to ramble – it’s a good choice. Coming from Málaga? It’s just a bare hour along the usually empty A7, and still remains typically Spanish so is a nice alternative away day from the bustling and touristy Costa del Sol.

Choice 1 – Budget: Hostal Jayma

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Score on Booking: 9.4

Small and family-run, Hostal Jayma is situated in the Old Town, and parking is a bit of a nightmare, there is none at the accommodation. Having said that, it’s easy enough in May to find a space in town – it might be a little more frustrating in high season. 10/10 for friendliness, the hostal owner is helpful and chatty – he also speaks English if you need it. Our room on the first floor had Wifi, a small flat screen TV, and a decent bathroom with toiletries and towels aplenty. The room was clean and quiet, had a little balcony to sit on at the front, and although a bit basic and tired when it came to decor, was not unpleasant. The hostal is central, a few minutes stagger to local bars and restaurants, and for that all-important Spanish breakfast of coffee and Tostada con todo times two. Would we return? Yes, for the odd night it’s perfectly fine and reasonably priced from just €50.

Hostal Jayma

C/ Cristo 24
18680 Salobreña
Granada, Spain
(+34) 958 610 231
info@hostaljayma.com

Choice 2 – Luxury: Hotel Miba

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Score on Booking: 9.2

The next morning we had that leisurely breakfast and checked out. Harley parked up, boots off and flip-flops on and a morning spent on the beach and a 2pm chiringuito fresh fish lunch a few steps from our sun loungers (which served as storage for the boots, helmets, bags and all the ‘stuff’ a ride down brings!) At check-in time we put back on the leather and took the short ride up to Hotel Miba for the second leg of the weekend.

Hotel Miba is fairly new – I remember driving past as it was built a few years back and wondering if I would ever stay there. Sometimes you get what you wish for! We booked the best room, the larger of the two suites (Queen Suite) for the ultimate luxurious experience. Oh My! It was everything you might expect. Parking is free in front of the hotel which is directly off the A7, perched right at the top with views over the sea. Reception staff are chatty and helpful. Our room was priced at €180 (with drinks, dinner and breakfast about €300ish) and worth every single cent. It was big – 65 m² – with two large double beds together to make an ocean of a bed. The roll-top bath was in front of the (not overlooked!) expansive terrace doors, the fridge has Cava to drink, perfect in the bath 🙂  there was a separate large luxury bathroom with a shower to fit a party of 10 (no, I didn’t!) and the terrace was all around the suite. The decor is funky ethnic, there are a rooftop Skybar and pool (which we had all to ourselves) and both breakfast and dinner were phenomenal. The quality of food and service is outstanding, and dinner was the best I have had in Spain. Any drawbacks? Could be a better choice of toiletries at that price – maybe some really good bath foam for that fabulous bath? Would we return? Yes, in a heartbeat…!

Hotel Miba

N-340, Km. 325,

18680 Salobreña,

Granada

Contact form

The reviews in this article are not paid for or sponsored  – views are my own.

Hotel review: Casa Federico, Granada

Rolling back to last winter for this overdue review. It’s hard now, with the mercury rising so quickly, to even imagine cold, wet winter days, with easterly winds and a bite to the air. But, that’s what it was like in Spain last winter. To break up one such weekend, we booked a night in Granada, to take advantage of someone else’s heating and hot water. The budget was set for a reasonable place to stay, it had to be central, and with a little bit of character. I would rather stay at home than do a run of the mill awayday.

A good fit

So, on paper, Casa Federico looked like a good fit. It is. Set just a few steps from the cathedral, the great value price did not reflect a budget hotel stay in any way and we enjoyed the location, excellent decor, and friendly atmos.

Rooms and decor

Named after our favourite Granada poet, reasonable parking is a block away. Upgraded on request to a superior room, it was a large-twin-bed-pushed-together scenario. Plenty of storage, spotlessly clean, room to walk around, a corner bath in a spacious bathroom, and quirky touches such as Moroccan decor, and headboards fashioned from old shutters. There were two full-length windows, and balcony views to the front, and to the spires and tiled rooftops of Granada.

The reception staff were friendly and helpful – and there’s no stuffiness. My only gripe was leaving behind a piece of sentimental jewellery and no reply to my Facebook messages. Otherwise, I say go ahead, book Casa Federico for great value, and a lovely place to stay in a convenient location.

*This review is independent and was not in exchange for a free stay.

Walking in the Alpujarra area of Andalusia

The rolling foothills of the Alpujarras region of Andalusia are still a pretty well-kept secret. Step away from the sand of the Costa Tropical and wind your way uphill, where a patchwork quilt of open countryside – most of it unchanged since Moorish times – unfurls before you, as far as the eye can see. Most first-time visitors describe their worries and stresses falling away as quickly as the coast drops below them. Roads where you’re unlikely to meet another vehicle snake up and around the mountainsides, calling you to explore more…

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Carol Byrne

Pack and go

Pack your boots, sensible layers of outdoor clothing and come and join our recommended Walking Tour operator Spanish Highs, as they show you around this time-forgotten area, and introduce you to a traditional Spanish area you will unlikely forget. Make some memories that last long beyond the suntan, and meet a destination you will wish to return to, time and again.

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The walking routes

With the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea at your feet, way below, and the Sierra Nevada mountains as the snowy frame, walking in the Alpujarras is a visual pleasure. Your senses will be instantly revived also, with the scent of fresh mountain herbs trampled underfoot, and the clear, clean air.

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Come on an Alpujarras Escape Walking Holiday

  • 5 days of the best walking and hiking tours in the Alpujarras!
  • Any dates between September and June (inclusive)
  • 7 nights in 3* hotel accommodation in Lanjarón
  • Choose between 2 fine hotels
  • Experienced local mountain and walking guides
  • Most days can be extended or shortened as necessary to suit the group
  • Shorter breaks available on request.
  • Optional (May to Oct) is an ascent of Mulhacén, the highest mountain in mainland Spain (3482m)

Level of challenge

Expect altitude gains of about 400m to 850m ascent and between 5 and 7 hours of walking per day. Bring sensible clothing and good hiking boots. Hiking poles are useful. Sun hats, sun glasses, sun block and a water bottle are essential.

Want to know more? Contact us: via our Contact Page or emailinfo@spanishhighs.co.uk. Tel +44 7505 753259 by prior appointment (email) only please.

 

 

7 signs of Spanish springtime

For the rest of the world, springtime and the definition of any season is officially marked by  the Astronomical or Meteorological seasons.

The science behind the seasons

What’s the difference?  Astronomical seasons refer to the position of Earth’s orbit in relation to the sun (taking into account equinoxes and solstices). Meteorological seasons are based on the yearly temperature cycle and calculate the meteorological state as well as timing with the calendar to determine a clear and definitive transition between the seasons.

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Spain is different

Got that? No, nor me. It’s far simpler in Spain – and as we all know: Spain is Different. 😉

There are 7 clear signs that Spring and warmer weather have arrived – Spanish style. It’s like the flick of a giant imaginary switch. Perhaps you recognise these signs, or perhaps you know a few more? Let’s see…

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Changes afoot

The floor tiles INSIDE the house change from icy polar old to reasonably warm overnight. You’re no longer in danger of losing your toes from severe frostbite for misplacing your slippers. Hey, bring on the flip-flops. Ah, I see, you never took them off… Time to paint those toenails.

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Raising the Parasols

Parasol – the clue is in the name of course. Into storage go the patio heaters, up go the parasols. Bars look alive with busy terraces. Yes, hold that comment,  I know they have outside terraces all year round down there on the coast, but we’re at the top of a mountain 🙂

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Hearty stews be-gone

Bowls of spicy, tasty Callos and pig’s innards are whisked away, and tapas is replaced by little mounds of Russian Salad (which incidentally can be either a soft and creamy delight or a splendid saucer of cat vomit).

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You ate THAT?!

Wash that down

Red wine? No Camarero, mine is a Tinto Verano – ropey red over ice topped up with lemonade and splash of Martini if you’re lucky. Very refreshing it is too…

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The smiling Cura

Ah yes, the Vatican’s best envoy, the Parish Priest, has a noticeable spring in his step, and he’s wearing a slightly creepy benign smile. Why? It’s the start of fiesta season – which means a substantial leap in the number of congregates, and a louder jangle of coins in the collection basket.

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Step talk

A better gathering than Mass. The scrubbing of front steps and the scraping of chairs means the start of ‘doorstepping’ season. From the plaza to our front door is a 3 minute walk but it can take 3 hours with a delicious stop or twenty to sip the proffered wine and (literally) chew the fat. . politics, religion, football, farming and family are discussed at length.

Besides, how on earth would anyone know anything without the front step gossip? Sheesh. Yep, that’s my step. 🙂

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The Birds and the Bees

Big blue carpenter bees, chatty and fat Swallows, busy Housemartins, they all back, and they’re all keen to start a new family. Sit back, pour another Tinto Verano (don’t wait for summer) and just enjoy springtime, in fact ANY time, in Spain.

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Spanish exploring for spring

Hey – it’s warming up, isn’t it? It’s always a bit later here at 1115m in the high hills of Andalucía. But there they are.Those first clues – the floor tiles underfoot don’t make you flinch as you climb out of bed, orchids showing up and showing off in the campo, jasmine buds tentatively unfurling in the garden, and the birds getting, well, all jiggy. Speaking of our feathered friends – the Swallows are back on our terrace this week, having made their long journey back to us – they’re looking fat and well, and are always happy to chat while we hang out the washing.

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Speaking of journeys, we will set off this weekend to Valladolid, ostensibly to watch UD Almeria get totally obliterated by the local football team, it’s part of the 21st birthday treatment for The Boy, currently here on his Easter break from student life in Wet Wales.  We also booked a stay in Toledo on the way back – love it in that hill top walled city of swords and Kings, El Greco, and from what I remember – great cake! Expect plenty of photo fodder on our return.

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Himself and myself will be celebrating a wedding anniversary of many moons this June, so we have decided to mark the auspicious occasion (we don’t, normally) with a trip. He suggested Rome  – I meh-ed a bit and  shrugged. Then we both thought of magical Marrakech, considered it for about, oh, 2 seconds, and promptly booked bargain flights and a splendiferous Riad to go with them. I cannot wait. A stopover at Córdoba  (ida) and Sevilla (vuelta) will complete the trip.

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A weekend in May before that, to wish my mother a happy birthday and take her for a G&T, will complete my tinker travels for the first half of this year – I was there in January but she’s getting on and I am a bad, careless and vagrant daughter.

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So, sit down here beside me, and tell me; how is your spring shaping up?

 

 

 

Going hunting in Spain (No shootin’, no fishin’)

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Blinking against the intense white light, made even more effulgent by the snowy frame of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I curse the fact I have yet again forgotten my sunglasses. Looking down instead, where the already dried out wild herbs of thyme and mountain sage crackle and snap satisfyingly underfoot, I begin my hunt, the search for orchids. Watching my step too, the uneven ground needs no help to send me flying, I am increasingly awkward with age, and do not welcome another ankle impairment.

I note where the wild boar have already visited this morning, a sounder of swine in party mode, turning over earth, rummaging through the herbs and grasses with vigour. I wonder what they found? Some edible root delectable to swine taste? Who knows? Perhaps a yet to be discovered Michelin-worthy wild ingredient.

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A gunshot bangs closely – too close – and I shudder.  I have no entanglement with the local love affair of blasting the wildlife from this land. I hope the trophy is not our tusked friends. Probably.

I look across the valley, my corner of Spain.  North to snow-capped Mulhacen, south to the Mediterranean, the white villages like handfuls of sugar cubes in between , folded in to the mountain sides. The stretches of pollutant plastic down below the line of smog that is the Costa Almería. No sign of the great white hunter at least from where I survey, and I continue my own pursuit for the first, early orchids.

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I’m rewarded with a coterie of Giant Orchid, with many promising yet to unfold from their shining, stocky green leaves. A very early Mirror Ophrys –  Ophrys s.Speculum – makes this type of hunt completely worthwhile, looking like an ancient Chinese swordsman in full warrior costume. Well, that’s what I see!

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Woodcock or Sawfly (can never tell which) make up the day’s discoveries, as I walk back to the quiet mountain road, passing Grape Hyacinth and treading the perfumed prickly carpet of herbs.

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A deep breath, a good look around, a lungful of pure air. The best remedy for scrunched-up shoulders, tired eyes and a mind that tends to lean to despondency for no reason at all.

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If you’re exploring the Alpujarra, contact me and I’ll happily show you/send you guides to the best local spots for orchids – as long as you’re careful to respect the area, watch where you tread, and unlike some half-baked guests we once hosted – don’t pick them!

 

The 10 commandments for expats in Spain

Thinking of a move to sunny Spain and wondering where to start? Once you have all the travel arrangements and new home sorted out, and finally unpacked, you should then find out how best to fit in. Confused? Then follow some simple rules, and feel more at home in Spain. After a decade here in the Alpujarra region of southern Spain, we have fallen foul of at least a few of these ‘rules’ – so be prepared!

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Commandment 1.

Thou shalt give blood, sweat, tears – and another Xerox copy.

When you go to finalise paperwork (a bit of an oxymoron as there is always more, and never a ‘final’ ream of paper to get through) always remember to bring many, many copies of absolutely everything that pertains to the subject at hand. A vial of blood may also be handy. Add approx one ton of patience and you’re almost there.

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Commandment 2.

Thou shalt punish the liver – an evil organ.

Party etiquette. Your child  – settled in school and lisping like a local – has been invited to a friend’s birthday. Yay – a couple of free hours. Wrong. Forget pinning the tail on the mulo, or birthday games of any sort. You will also be expected to attend. The kids will be kicked into the street to play (whatever the weather) while the adults eat Russian Salad and get completely sloshed on home-made wine. There will be many of these – prepare your liver now.

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Commandment 3.

Thou shalt not poison thy neighbour’s wife.

Foreign food. Never bring a non-Spanish dish to a party. It may as well be labelled ‘radioactive polonium’. Everyone will ask you to explain what it is, what’s in it, how did you make it – but NO-ONE will eat it. You’ll be encouraged to bring it home again, where it can sit in the fridge looking reproachfully at you for 3 days before being slung in the bin. As for curry – ha.

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Commandment 4.

Thou shalt not get frustrated.

Never assume a free morning is the ideal time for popping to the bank, the doctor and the Town Hall. One thing at a time. Always. Listen to everyone’s aches and pains in line at the bank, their marital troubles in the doctor’s, and be prepare to be surprised at the Town Hall – Ayuntamiento – where you’ll be presented with another bill or ten you hadn’t known about.

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Commandment 5.

Thou shalt not arrange anything in August.

Never attempt to get anything at all done in August. Spain is closed. The roofer, gynaecologist and lawyer you desperately need to speak with are all at the beach.

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Commandment 6.

Thou shalt stay pale and interesting.

Oh no. Never go to the beach in August. In addition to it being packed out with all of the above  – see Commandment 5 – you’ll feel hopelessly, pathetically under qualified when you take out your sandwiches. Mama and extended familia next to you will have salad, wood fire cooked Paella and cold beers, coffee and cakes, and a tablecloth on a table to seat 20.

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Commandment 7.

Thou shalt be assertive.

STOP being so polite. Please and Thank You gets you nowhere. If you want another drink, bang your glass hard on the counter. Shout louder, harder, stronger.

No, we still can’t do it either.

©carolmbyrne.com

©carolmbyrne.com

Commandment 8.

Thou shalt become a supergrass.

Be prepared to tell everyone in a room how much you earn, how much you owe to the bank, how much you weigh, and the details of your sex life. In detail. Ya Está…

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Commandment 9.

Thou shalt honour the little people.

Never expect to find somewhere to eat a quiet, romantic meal, with all kids tucked up in bed. Noooo, kids stay up as late as everyone else, and are happily ignored as they scream and run in close proximity to your prawn cocktail. Grin and bear it. Tell one off at your peril. That might be a hanging offence, I’ll have to check…

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Commandment 10.

Thou shalt remain smug.

Enjoy yourself, turn your face to the sun, and your back on stress and worry. Never worriedly say “but what if…” instead wait until it might happen. Have a healthy respect for football and local fiestas, take the generous gifts of fruit and vegetables with gratitude, and you’ll soon settle into your new life in Spain.

Good choice, by the way 😉

relax in hammock, lazy vacations

 

 

Photographs author’s own, Google free images and from Pixabay.