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IF YOU want to feel thoroughly pampered but can't stand the thought of armies of waiters and footmen dancing attendance upon you, a short stay at one of Spain's best-kept secrets, la Bobadilla, could be just what the doctor ordered. The hotel actually rejoices in the title finca, or estate, and is set in 350 hectares of rolling countryside about 40 miles west of Granada in the south of Spain.

Modelled on a Moorish village, la Bobadilla is a labyrinth of leafy bowers, sparkling courtyards, dazzlingly white walls and somewhat understated opulence. It's half sultan's palace, half religious retreat - the sort of place where the fabulously rich go quietly mad away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. According to la Bobadilla itself, it is "not just a hotel, it is a philosophy".

There's an "international" restaurant where the weary, well-heeled wayfarer can forget that they're in rural Andalusia, and whose price list would make the average Spaniard choke on his chorizo. You're far better off at the El Cortijo restaurant where the fare is authentically local and the prices are only just above reasonable.

And, if you feel like getting married, or just communing with the Almighty, la Bobadilla has its own chapel based on a 16th-century design.


La Bobadilla, Apartado 144, E-18300-Loja, Granada, Spain (00 34 958 321861, fax 00 34 958 321810)

E-mail: info@la-bobadilla.com or visit: www.la-bobadilla.com

Transport: by car or chauffeur-driven limo. La Bobadilla is 40 miles west of Granada and 42 miles north of Malaga.

Time to international airport: getting to the hotel from either Granada or Malaga airport will take about 45 minutes. Take exit 175 off the A92 Granada-Seville motorway. Once you've driven through the main gates, though, it's another two miles until you actually get to the hotel.


Beds: generously proportioned and the decor is best described as tastefully rustic Mediterranean. La Bobadilla's 60 bedrooms and suites are all individually designed, and even the most modest boasts the sort of bath that cries out for dual occupancy and chilled champagne.

Freebies: a platter of fresh fruit and a bottle of fino sherry await every guest. The bathroom is stuffed with soft, white towels, fluffy dressing gowns, slippers and every conceivable lotion and potion.

Beyond the confines of your room, you can swim in the hotel's enormous, curvaceous outdoor pool, pump iron in the well-equipped gym, go horse riding through the olive groves or play tennis on the artificial grass courts. There's also an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, saunas, Turkish baths, archery, table tennis, boules and mountain bikes.

What to book: depends on the size of your wallet, but the cheapest and most lowly double room at la Bobadilla will easily satisfy the most voracious appetite for unbridled luxury.

Keeping in touch: multi-channel satellite TV and direct-dial telephones are standard offerings in each room. But the emphasis is definitely on getting away from it all rather than staying in touch.


To judge from the roll-call of celebrity guests - King Juan Carlos of Spain, the film star Tom Cruise and the opera singer Jessye Norman to name but three - you'd think such luxury would be beyond the reach of lesser mortals. In fact, a double room will set you back a reasonable 38,000 pesetas (about pounds 138) in high season (March-Nov and Christmas).

I'm not paying that: luckily there's a special offer. Between 20 June and 31 August, you can book yourself a double room, including breakfast, for 154,000 pesetas (pounds 623) for five nights, or 201,600 pesetas (pounds 815) for seven nights.

Geoff Spink