THE ALPUJARRA, SPAIN
Charming centuries-old house and garden in the mountains in Andalucia, offering an inspiring, relaxing space for restorative, creative retreats.
From €3,300 for a week
IN A NUTSHELL
Set in beautiful Andalucia, this 400-year-old house in the village of Ferreirola is ideal for homely, peaceful and creative getaways, and has been hosting memorable writing, yoga, creativity, meditation, painting, knitting, personal development and walking retreats for many years. Once a family home with a wine press, olive oil store, barns and stables, this idyllic retreat venue in Spain has been transformed into a stylish and comfortable guest house with south-facing terraces, a garden and jaw-dropping river gorge views. Its 10 bedrooms are set around a pretty, flower-filled courtyard or give onto south-facing terraces. Activities take place in the large sitting room, dining room and in the garden and on the terraces, from where you can see historic white villages, breath-taking mountain scenery and miles of goat paths, mule tracks and old silk roads. Casa Ana is run by thoughtful, caring and supportive host Anne Hunt, a former festival director.
INDOOR RETREAT SPACES
The large sitting room which looks out onto a shady terrace with superb mountain views is where group retreat activities are held. The architect-designed dining room and kitchen are open plan and welcoming, giving onto a secluded south-facing terrace. For winter warmth there is underfloor central heating throughout the house and a wood-burning stove in the sitting room - a cosy setting for winter yoga classes.
OUTDOOR RETREAT SPACES
The old Alpujarra-style buildings are arranged around a Moorish courtyard garden, planted with wisteria and roses. A few steps through the garden take you to the terraces with breathtaking views along the valley and into the mountains. Yoga classes in summer are held on the south-facing terrace, shaded by a wisteria-clad pergola.
The 10 bedrooms have retained their original chestnut beams with white walls and terracotta floors, and they offer comfortable beds, quality linens and a scattering of rugs. There are five doubles, two twins and three singles. One of the doubles could accommodate another single.
Six of the rooms are en-suite and four bedrooms share two bathrooms. Bathrooms are modern with rain showers, huge mirrors and hand-made tiles inspired by the Moorish designs of the Alhambra.
Rooms are accessed via a small courtyard beside the main house, via the garden and down a flight of steps from the garden. One room - a double - is suitable for wheelchair users.
As well as the sitting room and dining room, there are big shady pergolas where you can relax with a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee and a good book and secluded sunny corners where you can soak up the Andalucian sun and do nothing at all. At night you can sit out, gaze at the stars and watch the moon rise over the mountains. Everywhere there are panoramic views, the scent of jasmine and orange blossom, and maybe the sound of goatbells or a nightingale or the river far below.
The peace and quite of Casa Ana make it an ideal location for writing, creativity and yoga. In summer there’s a lovely swimming pool with a bar and a rose garden, a short walk from Casa Ana. Or if you want to relish the beauty of Casa Ana, book a therapeutic massage at the house.
At Casa Ana fresh, seasonal and local produce is used. Fruit and vegetables are sourced locally whenever possible. This includes oranges and summer fruits for jam-making, and organic free-range eggs. Delicious cheeses, jamon serrano, honey, olive oil and wines are bought from producers in the area.
Breakfasts are a feast of fresh orange juice, cereals, yoghurt, fruit, breads, ham and cheeses from the region, home-made jams and honey from Jose the bee-keeper. Two-course lunches and delicious three-course dinners are offered, including vegetarian and vegan options. Meals at Casa Ana are a sumptuous blend of Spanish, Mediterranean and Moroccan flavours. If your retreat activities take you outside the property, picnic lunches can be organised. These are rucksack-friendly and include filled rolls, crudités, dried fruit and nuts, cake or chocolate, fresh fruit and juice.
There is a surprising number and variety of restaurants within easy reach of Casa Ana, ranging from traditional Alpujarran to gourmet Spanish, plus pizzas, vegetarian, Moroccan and more. With around 35 regional bodegas, and some prize-winning wines, this is an up-and-coming wine area. There is a selection of wines at the house.
Casa Ana employs local people to help support the local economy, and, as a business, is committed to low-impact, sustainable and environmentally conscious tourism. Retreats never accommodate more than 14 people. Anne buys produce and supplies locally and, when possible, she buys organic food and non-polluting cleaning products. At the house, water use is minimised with dual flush loos, showers rather than baths, and a drip system for garden watering. Low-energy light bulbs are fitted everywhere. The staff recycle paper, cardboard, glass and plastic waste, and Anne regularly encourages local shops and market traders not to use plastic bags and instead to encourage shoppers to bring their own. Guests are encouraged to fill their water bottles from a natural spring nearby rather than buying plastic bottles of water. When organising guided walks, the guides always use designated footpaths, and ask walkers not to pick wildflowers, leave litter or cause any damage.
The al fresco way of life - everywhere rooms open onto the Moorish garden, the courtyard or the terraces, and the views just go on and on and on.
The Less Than Ordinary
There's neither a pool nor a spa on site, but there is a pool nearby and treatments can be pre-arranged at the house.
Calle Artesa, 7