Mediterranean cuisine with an Andalucían twist awaits the hungry traveller at the secluded Spanish haven Barceló La Bobadilla
We’d left behind the whirl of Málaga airport just 40 minutes earlier and now our car was sweeping through vast olive groves leading to Barceló La Bobadilla, a luxurious, five-star hotel built in the style of a whitewashed Andalucían village.
Stepping inside stirred memories of visits to Córdoba’s Mezquita – the lobby’s marbled colonnades, linked by brick horseshoe-shaped arches, echoing the striking architecture of the city’s grand mosque-cathedral. Tranquillity reigned – it was confirmation we’d picked the right spot to recharge.
La Bobadilla sits close to historic Granada and within easy reach of the Costa del Sol but you could be a million miles from either as you stand outside on the crest of a hill to take in uninterrupted views of the Sierra de Loja – the rugged mountain range surrounding the hotel.
This secluded retreat is all about escaping the stresses of modern life, and you don’t even need to leave the grounds to enjoy a wealth of rejuvenating activities – from hiking and horse riding to mountain biking, cookery lessons and spa therapies. And if you simply want to unwind, it’s easy to find a shady spot to soak up the serenity of the 350-hectare estate, or a secluded table to enjoy the delicious cuisine, more of which in a moment.
First, though, to build up an appetite, was a visit to the stables for a horse-riding lesson. Paired with Lucero (Bright Star), I was thankful this gentle horse was kind to the novice in the saddle as we trotted along a network of trails. And after a few initial nerves, I quickly relaxed with the reins and began to enjoy the sight of oak-strewn foothills below the high limestone massif.
Guests who prefer to keep both feet on the ground can hike along the Via Verde (Green Way) trail, which winds through this wilderness. So, after a long, alfresco lunch at El Cortijo, one of four restaurants at La Bobadilla, we set out on a 10km trek through thick woodland during which we spotted many ingredients that end up in the hotel’s kitchens – chief among them delicious wild asparagus.
Sampling the food and drink here is a big draw. Elegant La Finca – the gourmet dining room – occupies the original mansion on the estate and offers a distinct Andalucían twist to a modern Mediterranean menu. Starters include roasted octopus with green apple, ginger and langoustines, and for mains, how about wild turbot with mojo sauce, spring garlic and salsify, or honey-glazed roasted goat with quinoa purée?
The must-have dessert is ‘gin and tonic on a plate’, a refreshing sorbet-like dish and a nod to Spain’s love affair with the cool-again spirit. A well-chosen wine list features myriad top producers from across Iberia, with Galician whites leading the way, especially the crisp, zesty albariños.
The cooking at La Bobadilla is refined, creative and steered by António Organero, the affable executive chef who taught our group of amateur cooks how to prepare a trio of Spanish favourites – gazpacho, tortilla and monkfish paella – in his busy, hard-working kitchen. Director also loved sampling the wide variety of olive oils found in this region, particularly the picual oil from Almería’s Castillo de Tabernas – scrumptious with a plate of luscious, giant olives and slices of pork loin and manchego cheese.
The temperature soars here in high summer, so an energising dip in the 1,500sqm outdoor pool offers a chance to cool down. Or, if you fancy a bit of pampering, check out the opulent U-Spa, where local olive oils are used in treatments that refresh the mind and renew the spirit. Stones from harvested olives lie at the heart of La Bobadilla’s impressive green credentials, with an onsite biomass plant burning them to heat the hotel and provide hot water.
A key part of any recuperative break, of course, is a good night’s sleep, and La Bobadilla’s guest rooms and suites don’t disappoint. They’re spacious, with tastefully traditional rather than ultra-chic furnishings, and all have large, comfortable beds with crisp linens and perfectly plumped pillows. Huge sunken baths allow a chance to luxuriate after a day enjoying the great outdoors.
And, best of all, each room also offers a balcony, terrace or private garden, so in the morning you can throw open the doors to let in Andalucía’s dazzling light. All you’ll hear is birdsong as you relish the panoramic views – a truly restorative experience that is nourishing to soul and stomach alike.
Barceló La Bobadilla: getting there
Monarch operates flights from Gatwick to Málaga from £33 one way.
For more information
Lead-in rates at Barceló La Bobadilla start from £68 per person per night. The price is based on two sharing and includes breakfast and VAT.