Sleepover: Dar Cilla

A bed for the night in Spain


The location

The location

On one of the two main roads that lead into Tarifa, Andalucia's cool surf capital, within easy access to Jerez, Malaga and Gibraltar airports. A hotel on a busy thoroughfare? Don't despair. Park the car, get the room key and take a look inside. Dar Cilla may appear to be a faceless mansion block from the outside, but the attractions of this traditional Arab townhouse lie within. A labyrinth of corridors and staircases lead to patios, terraces and living spaces, decorated from the bazaars of Tangier, just a ferry ride away across the Strait of Gibraltar. Once it housed a number of families, now it accommodates different permutations of holidaymakers - singles, couples, groups of friends, and, during school holidays, families.

The USP

You can't beat the view of Morocco from the top terrace. It's glorious. And it's what inspired the owner, Zoë Ouwehand, and her late husband, Floris, to buy and restore this crumbling ruin set in the town's 12th-century city walls, and later extend it into today's hybrid establishment that offers the comforts of a hotel and the independence and convenience of self-catering apartments. Such flexibility is what draws families here during school holidays. Plus, it is excellent value for money.

The comfort factor

Taking her inspiration from neighbouring Morocco, Ouwehand has literally carried furniture and ornaments home from Tangier to decorate her open-house hotel. Iron lanterns, lampshades and candlesticks, polished plaster, tile-topped tables, ornate mirrors, patterned ceramics, floating linens, and elaborately painted and dark wood furnishings play out the North African theme. The seven self-catering apartments range from a single bedsit to a family suite, each with access to a terrace, patio or balcony. The best choice for families is the maisonette, which has two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, with washing machine, two bathrooms, private patio and roof terrace.

The bathroom

Different rooms, different bathrooms. So find out whether yours has a bath or shower or both. All are tastefully decorated, spotlessly clean and supplied with plump towels.

The food and drink

Use your kitchen for snacks or light meals. What about dinner? The town still lacks good dining options, though El Souk, at Mar Tirreno 64 (00 34 956 62 70 65; www.souk-tarifa.com), deserves a recommendation. For breakfast, Dar Cilla has its own Café Gusto, which offers a delicious hot and cold selection, freshly prepared before your eyes.

The people

Ouwehand, her manager, Martina de Rijke, and the staff are very welcoming. The atmosphere of the "dar" encourages socialising. Your fellow guests are likely to be a diverse lot, thanks to the variety of accommodation on offer, and you'll probably meet them at an impromptu complimentary barbecue or tapas evening on the top terrace, which are thrown often.

The area

Wave, kite or wind-propelled, all kinds of surfing (and other watersports) take place off blustery Tarifa. Too energetic? Sunbathe on one of the excellent dune-lined beaches along this coast: El Palmar and Bolonia are my favourites. Explore the town's pretty old quarter, where there's some good shopping. Or travel further afield to the local white towns of Vejer de la Frontera and Medina Sidonia. Tarifa is a gateway to Africa, so take a day trip to Morocco.

The access

Numerous steps make it difficult for people with limited mobility. Children are welcome during the school holidays, but check outside those times. No pets and no smoking.

The damage

The maisonette, sleeping four, costs from €170 (£121) a night. The family apartment, sleeping five, costs from €100 (£71) a night. Extra beds from €10 (£7) a night. Single and double rooms are also available. Minimum stay three nights. Negotiable rates for stays of more than one week in the low season.

The address

Dar Cilla, Calle Cilla, Tarifa, Cadiz (00 34 653 467 025; www.darcilla.com).

Kate Simon travelled around Andalucia courtesy of Carrentals.co.uk (0845 225 0845; www.carrentals.co.uk), which offers a week's car hire in Andalucia from £89.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us