Being a colourist as well as a romantic, the palette of Andalucia struck a deep chord with me when I first visited in 1994. Vibrant Seville remains for me, one of the most romantic cities in Europe; flawlessly passionate and brimming with old-world charm.
But there are other, lesser known corners of Andalucia that are unique and soulful, perfect when planning a romantic tour of Andalucia…
1. Seville: Traditional and Inspirational
At the top of our list for a Romantic break in Andalucia has to be Seville. Inspiring countless operas, poems, novels and plays, Seville’s deep traditions and passion will inspire any romantic who chooses to visit.
There can often be crowds, especially in the tourist season, but its easy to escape them and find yourselves wandering peaceful back streets of one of the largest historic quarters in Europe.
If you really want to treat your loved ones, stay at the new Hotel del Poeta, or the more established Palacio de Villapanés. While at Casa 1800, they´ll really look after you, and the superior rooms have private terraces. If you´re on a tighter budget then use El Rey Moro in the Santa Cruz district.
When you visit Seville, take a stroll through Maria Luisa Park early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is low, walk across the river to Triana and find a spot on the embankment to enjoy the view of the skyline from across the water. Lose yourselves in the Santa Cruz District and find a quiet square for a coffee and then when you need to, head back to the hotel and rest your feet before dinner.
2. Ronda: The City of Dreams
Ronda has recently embarked on a campaign to re-discover its Romantic Heritage. Now in its 3rd year, RONDA ROMÁNTICA celebrates the romantic age of travel and harks back to the late 19th Century when the more intrepid travellers discovered Ronda and were inspired by her isolated, exposed and monumental setting.
At TOMA we were privileged this year to have been asked to orchestrate the perfect setting for a “pedido de mano”, a marriage proposal by one of our guests. We chose the scenic Hanging Balcony in Ronda for the special moment, and all involved were thrilled when she said YES!
Again it can be busy, but if you time it right the balcony can be yours to enjoy, and few views are capable of inspiring more. Then, if you´re game, head down to the bottom of the Gorge following the path that runs behind the Palacio Mondragón in the Old Town.
Ronda Old Town is brimming with romantic hideaways and restaurants, Carmen La De Ronda and Almocabar to name but two. The Reina Victoria Hotel is one of Toma´s favourite hotels as it combines comfort with clever design, stunning views and even offers a SPA where you could soak aching muscles at the end of an adventurous day.
If you want to visit Ronda but also experience rural Andalucia, there are two great options nearby. Toma clients love staying at both the Hotel Molino del Santo in Benaoján (also an amazing restaurant) and the newly refurbished Arriadh Hotel, on a hill overlooking Arriate. Both are in breathtaking beauty spots and would be perfect for a little Romantic Escape or as the Spanish say; “Una Escapadita” ;.)
3. El Rompido: A Jewel on the Coast
A village with a grammatically incorrect name, El Rompido (past tense of Romper – to break – is El Roto) is, for me, the jewel in the Andalucian Coastline. It holds very dear memories for me, as I lived there for 2 years after a very difficult period in my life, and its gentleness and beauty ebbed their way into my system, restoring my soul and preparing me for the next stage of my life.
I still head up there as often as I can. Starting from the hilariously defiant name, there is nothing about El Rompido that is like anywhere else, and for that reason alone it remains a firm favourite.
Up until the 1990´s it was a cluster of typical fishermen´s houses stretching along the estuary of the Rio Piedras, sheltered from the Atlantic by a sliver of land called La Flecha or The Arrow. Now protected land, La Flecha has 14 kilometres of unspoilt wild beaches, and there are little boats that ferry people back and forth during the day.
The little village has filled with fabulous restaurants serving some of the best fish and seafood I have ever tasted and the classic Doña Gamba (literally Mrs Prawn) in the main square by the little church (I know it does sound idyllic doesn’t it!) sells hundreds of thousands of prawns to locals and visitors alike. When I lived here for 2 years, I actually developed GOUT from too many visits to Doña Gamba!
My favourite hotel here is the AC Nuevo Portil Hotel, set amongst pines and just a short stroll from fabulous beaches. It´s a solid example of good design as it feels as new now as when it was built 15 years ago. The rooms are superbly appointed and the double height “superiors” would score you major brownie points as a romantic setting 🙂
4. Archidona and its Boutique Hotel “ALMOHALLA 51”
I first started visiting this village, 45 minutes north of Málaga, back in the year 2000. I was drawn to its Spanish charms and total lack (in those days) of foreigners. Surrounded by olive groves, its setting beneath a dramatic mountain ridge grants it unparalleled views across the valley that stretches towards Antequera and the magnetic profile of the Enamorados Peak, or “Lovers Peak”
Already being one of my favourite haunts, I was delighted to meet David and Myles and step into their timeless creation at Almohalla 51. Now in its 3rd year, this boutique 5 roomed Bed and Breakfast has already won accolades from Tripadvisor, The Times and the Sur, to name but a few. Each of its stylish rooms offers serene rest and the boys attend to your every need. Their breakfasts are legendary and the pool area at the back of the house offers an uncanny sense of peace and tranquility.
Some visitors only leave to enjoy meals in the village, and that would be my recommendation. Enjoy the superb food at either Bar Central or Arxiduna in the Main Square (which incidentally is Octagonal and totally unique) but then head back to Almohalla 51 as quick as you can. Depending on the season, you can either sink into an armchair by the fire or cuddle up on the sofa in the cosy reading room or head up to the terrace to enjoy the trapped sunshine in their landscaped garden.
5. Finca Buenvino, Aracena: Lost and Found
Lost on a hill deep in the cork forests of the Sierra de Aracena, Finca Buenvino is in a world of its own.
30 years ago, its pioneering owners Sam and Jeannie literally built a house on a hill using reclaimed doors, windows and floors. Many of them came from a 19th Century tenement in Madrid, and Sam had them all brought down on a huge lorry.
If the adventure began there, you can only imagine where it ended, and the result is a Narnia Style Other Worldly Charm that only happens when several very special elements and people just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Each time I step into this wonderful world it´s like Paradise Found.
Impeccable hosts, Sam and Jeannie will either entertain and listen to you around the drawing room fire or they will leave you to your own devices. Three decades of hospitality have tuned their intuitive senses finely. The estate offers private walks and acres of quiet corners for the true nature lovers, and when the warmth begins their infinity pool and summer house have no rival.
The nearby town of Aracena has a plethora of restaurants that Sam and Jeannie will be happy to recommend. And if you ask really nicely, Jeannie, a superb Cordon Bleu Chef with her own cookbook, might just knock you up some dinner which will leave you speechless and more than ready for a rest in the sanctuary of your “Home and Garden” style bedroom. Utterly Romantic!
We hope you like our top picks, and please do share your own in the comments below,