Bed and Be, Cordoba, Spain
Trippers come for the history, but this Moorish guesthouse invites them to delve deeper, says Brendan Sainsbury
Sunday 04 May 2014
With no international airport, Cordoba is often treated as day-trip fodder by tourists enamoured with Seville and Granada. But, anchored by its ancient church-mosque (the Mezquita) and bequeathed with plenty of modern diversions, including Andalucia's first brewpub and a new flamenco museum, the city deserves at least an overnight stay – especially if you find the right accommodation.
Cordoba Bed and Be launched in 2012 as a cross between a traditional B&B and a small hostel. It offers neat, comfortable rooms, unfussy personal service and plenty of creative extras. Aside from offering you a bed and Wi-Fi, the owner will lead you on a free evening bike-and-tapas tour in his beloved city. If you're lucky, he will invite you back for a barbecue on his salubrious roof terrace afterwards.
Bed and Be is encased in a refurbished townhouse designed in the 1930s by Catalan architect and restorer, Felix Hernandez. It is located just 400 metres from Cordoba's central Plaza de las Tendillas. The interior pays homage to Andalucia's famous pueblos blancos, using pearly white walls, bedspreads and bathrooms to emphasise light, space and an almost surgical level of cleanliness. The simple rooms – three private twins plus one four-bed and one eight-bed dorm – have retained their original geometric floor tiles and handsome wrought-iron window railings. Bathrooms, though shared, are modern and spotless. There's also a lounge, home cinema, kitchen and roof terrace, all available to guests.
The airy lounge The breakfast ...
... is traditionally Spanish: light and simple, consisting of fresh bread, fruit, cereal and coffee. The breakfast spread is laid out in the communal lounge. You can use the equipment in the kitchen (juice maker, toaster and microwave) to embellish your snack before taking it upstairs to enjoy on the roof terrace.
The B&B is the work and passion of Cordoba native, José Fabra Garrido, who first opened his doors in March 2012 in the midst of Spain's crippling recession. Navigating the fickle economic climate hasn't been easy, but José has both background and experience on his side. Born and raised in a small family-run hotel in Cordoba, he went on to study Leisure, Tourism and Environment in the Netherlands.
The inspiration for Bed and Be came during a six-month backpacking trip around South America after which José formulated the crux of his idea: to design an economical, hybrid B&B-hostel, that allows guests the opportunity to dip under the tourist radar and feel like a local. Adamant to show that Cordoba is more than just a collection of crumbling Moorish relics, José hosts regular thematic dinners and lures in a local chef to prepare Sunday brunches. Providing further cultural immersion, his sociable bike tours have become a much talked about feature on Cordoba's tourist grapevine.
You'd be foolish to miss Cordoba's legendary Mezquita (00 34 95 747 0512; catedraldecordoba.es). Entry is free if you visit between 8:30am and 9:20am Monday to Saturday when the atmosphere is quiet and spiritual.
To uncover the soul of the city, take up a place on one of José's free evening bike and tapas tours. Following the example of Seville, Cordoba is in the process of pedestrianising many of its streets and adding to its growing web of bicycle lanes.
The best new sight in this ancient city is the Centro Flamenco Fosforito (00 34 957 47 68 29; centroflamencofosforito.cordoba.es), a flamenco museum which explains the sometimes confusing intricacies of the art in a way that is compelling to both aficionados and neophytes.
The pit stop
Salmorejo is a Cordoba speciality, a cold garlicky soup made with a tomato base, that unlike gazpacho, is too thick to drink. New restaurant Salmorejería Umami (00 34 957 48 2347; salmorejeriaumami.com) offers the dish in exotic variations, from green tea to avocado.
In the land of the ubiquitous Cruzcampo beer, the recent appearance of Cervezas Califa (cervezascalifa.com) deserves a fanfare of trumpets. Califa claims to be Andalucia's first brewpub. Its pale ales, beers and stouts, all crafted onsite, can be enjoyed in a bar full of multi-lingual chatter, vintage clothes and beards.
Cordoba Bed and Be, Calle Cruz Conde 22, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain (00 34 661 420 733; bedandbe.com). Dorm beds start at €17 (£14); doubles €40 (£33), including breakfast.
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