Sleepover: Hotel Cortijo, La Reina
A bed for the night in Malaga
Sunday 06 March 2005
Just 30 minutes' drive north of Malaga airport and 20 minutes from the city, this converted 19th-century cortijo stands in the beautiful Montes de Malaga Natural Park with views to the coast.
Just 30 minutes' drive north of Malaga airport and 20 minutes from the city, this converted 19th-century cortijo stands in the beautiful Montes de Malaga Natural Park with views to the coast. The main building, a typical Andalucian farmhouse built around an internal courtyard, and two newer buildings, are surrounded by gardens and orchards planted with almond, orange, avocado, and kiwi trees.
It's a great place to lay your head if you're travelling in or out of Malaga airport and have a horrible flight time. But this is also a mellow place to spend a weekend.
The comfort factor
Fall asleep to a soundtrack of cicadas and wake to birdsong. The 12 doubles and seven suites are distributed across the three buildings. All have bathrooms and one suite has its own Jacuzzi, while some of the rooms in other buildings have terraces or a private patio. The beds are large and comfortable, with quality linen, and our double room was big enough for an extra single bed and a generous wardrobe, with space to spare. I'm a sucker for having my bed turned down and a chocolate placed on the pillow - and I wasn't disappointed. All rooms have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, air-conditioning, satellite TV and mini-bar. The décor throughout is smart traditional - think heavy, quality fabrics, florals and stripes. There is also a communal lounge with fireplaces and comfy sofas and chairs, including some interesting antiques, while ironwork garden tables and chairs are dotted around the internal patio. Other distractions include an honesty bar and games and billiards rooms.
Unremarkable, but tastefully finished, in traditional marble and tiles - and spotless. Ours was spacious and although the bath was big, a wild shower refused to stay put. Cosy robes and towels were provided and the free smellies were pretty standard offerings.
The food and drink
Served in the cosy surroundings of the restored farmhouse kitchen, the breakfast (included in the price) is a belly-busting buffet of charcuterie and cheeses, fresh fruits and juices, cereals, yoghurts, fresh rolls and sweet pastries. The smart but relaxed restaurant serves a menu of contemporary interpretations of traditional local cuisine. Featuring heavily are good-quality local meats with delicious sauces - so vegetarian guests should notify the hotel of their preference in advance. The menu changes seasonally, but there's enough variety for a stay of a few nights and the wine list is extensive.
Guests mostly consist of Italians, Britons and Germans on weekend and short breaks or on honeymoon. People mingle happily in the communal areas, but there's also plenty of space in which to lose yourself around the hotel. The staff are helpful. In fact, while most Spanish hotels won't say no to children, at this one they really went out of their way to accommodate our toddler, cooking up omelettes for his tea, warming his milk and washing his cups and bowls - all outside restaurant hours.
Malaga, just a short drive away, is often overlooked, but it's an attractive city that features the relatively new Picasso Museum, a Moorish fortress, shopping and buzzy nightlife. The beach resorts of the Costa del Sol are also within reach as are several excellent gol`f courses. But most stunning is the surrounding Montes de Malaga Natural Park - a wonderful place for a hike, with ancient trees and a huge variety or flora and fauna. The park is also dotted with interesting villages and towns such as Colmenar and La Axarquia, and sites of archaeological interest such as La Cueva de los Chivos, La Pulsera and Aljibe de Comares. Back at the hotel, follow one of several paths in the grounds, taking in the birdlife and mountain air. There's an outdoor swimming pool, tennis and pelota courts, mini-golf course and a playground for children, too.
The hotel is very accessible for wheelchair users. There are wide doorways and a lift in the main building. The rooms in other buildings are ground-floor level only. Children welcome. Pets not permitted.
Doubles from €122.40 (£84), suites from €180 (£124) per room including breakfast. Cots are provided free and extra beds are €30 (£21).
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