Villa Of The Week: Casa de la Era, Andalucia

Andalucia's 'pueblos blancos' get jammed with tourists. But there are quieter ones to enjoy if you know where to look. Like El Gastor. Stay at Casa de la Era and you'll be on the doorstep

The holiday of your dreams always needs a killer view. And as you relax on the terrace of Casa de la Era, you won't be disappointed. Your eyes are drawn across the valley floor to the turquoise lake at the foot of Zahara de la Sierra and the rugged mountains of the Unesco-protected Sierra de Grazalema. Overhead, see the griffon vultures float on the warm thermals.

You're staying on the edge of a classic pueblo blanco, or white village. But this is far from the maddening crowds of Ronda and Gaucin. Here, in the north of Cadiz province, low-impact rural tourism is the name of the game. In the 1980s, bus tours from the costas brought day-trippers in search of these beautiful mountain settlements. Now, encouraged by the local government, the villages offer discerning travellers an opportunity to enjoy great local produce, as well as a tranquil place to stay.

Perched halfway up a hillside, Casa de la Era is set in olive groves. When I visited, the nearest neighbour, a few hundred metres below, was having a family gathering and as the siesta passed into evening the quiet hubbub was replaced by a female voice singing asoleá, a wistful flamenco.

The location

Only 10 minutes' drive from El Gastor, in one of the most picturesque areas of Andalucia's interior.

The comfort factor

The house is decorated in the Spanish country style, with warm earthy colours. Wooden furniture from Ronda and a massive dining table are the main features of the living space. A double-height ceiling helps air to circulate in summer and an open fire gives you somewhere to cosy up on chilly autumnal nights. The three large bedrooms (two doubles and one twin) have attractive metal-framed beds. The well-appointed kitchen is supplied with everything you'll need to prepare the marathon lunches that are a feature of local life.

There is plenty of well-chosen outdoor furniture for al-fresco dining and lounging. While you chill out on the terrace, the kids can run riot in the gated and fenced garden, stay cool in the pool or burn excess energy playing table tennis.

The bathroom

There are two spacious bathrooms: one en suite with a walk-in shower, the other has a large bath and shower.

The food and drink

The cheese, cold meat, bread, butter, milk and a decent Rioja in the welcome hamper should tide you over until you make the journey to the local shops. In El Gastor you'll find a few bars, three or four restaurants and a small general store. The tangy local olive oil is sought after. Also worth looking for is a local red wine, Fabio Montano, produced in Prado del Rey by 100-year-old Bodega Rivero.

The people

The house works well for two small families or for a parents-kids-grandparents holiday. Most visitors will travel independently and the area is very popular with Spaniards enjoying weekend breaks from Seville.

The area

Although surrounded by parkland, you are only 30 minutes from the historic town of Ronda, one hour from the sherry bodegas in Jerez and well-positioned for Cadiz's pueblos blancos. There are numerous picnic spots around the lake: head for the areas sign-posted zona recreativa. The tourist offices in El Gastor or Zahara can supply walking guides, maps and advice on where permits are needed for protected zones.

The access

An unsurfaced track winds uphill to the villa. Clear directions are provided, although it might be best not to arrive in the dark. The villa is on one level and there is a ramp down to the swimming pool terrace. Children welcome. No dogs.

The damage

Prices with Simpson Travel start at £345 per person for one week, including return flights and car hire.

The address

Casa de la Era, near El Gastor, Cadiz, is available through Simpson Travel (0845-811 6503; simpson

Liked that? Try these

* Vejer de La Frontera is a charming white village, a 15-minute drive from the beautiful beach at El Palmar. Try the four-room Escondrijo (00 34 956 447 438;

* Casa La Loba (00 34 956 412 051; is a small B&B set in a townhouse in the old town of Medina Sidonia, in the hills above Cadiz

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living