Royal Hideaway La Bobadilla, part of the Barceló Hotel Group, is true to its name; a five-star retreat set in 1,000 acres of private and protected grounds, nestled amongst the dramatic mountainous Mediterranean landscape between Málaga, Granada, Seville and Córdoba.
Its privacy, discretion and distinctly unostentatious sophistication make for a relaxing and contemplative break at a slower pace of life. Lounge by the 1,000sqm outdoor pool, or pamper yourself in the U Spa and treatment rooms. The estate is full of the hojiblanca variety of olive groves which are harvested for oil; be smothered in it with the speciality olive oil massage, or try a wine and olive oil tasting. For more vigorous activity, there are tennis courts and game areas, as well as walking and cycling routes throughout the grounds.
Originally a farm structure, the complex was designed by Granada born architect Jesús del Valle to retain the distinct feel of an Andalusian village; its interconnecting courtyards, fountains and tiled patios feel expansive and palatial yet intimate, with Moorish decorative architecture including marble columns, carved wood ceilings and horseshoe arches.
With such charming details at every turn and an onsite chapel, it’s little wonder this hotel is supremely popular for weddings. Yet crucially its expansive layout and spread of 67 rooms and suites mean it never feels crowded, and you can retreat within the retreat to your own private space; each has its own terrace, balcony or garden for a spot of ray-catching.
La Bobadilla’s formal La Finca is the only restaurant in the Granada Province to be awarded ‘five forks’ in the prestigious REPSOL guide, attracting guests who come for its inventive Spanish haute-cuisine, such as the softest fillet of lamb, ‘lojeño style’, with orange and carrot chutney, or roasted octopus with green apple, ginger and apricot chutney.
The El Cortijo restaurant offers more regional flavours in a country setting that is relaxed and elegant, with the option of dining on the terrace overlooking the Loja mountain range in summer; try the rich goats’ cheese wrapped in Iberian ham with green asparagus marmalade. The chutneys feature because you can don an apron and learn how to make them (and take the recipe home) in a cookery class led by La Bobadilla’s chef.
There is a strong environmental conscientiousness informing La Bobadilla’s operation and commitment to reducing its ecological footprint; it is the only five-star hotel in Spain that covers its own needs, using a biomass facility that turns the property’s olive pits into energy supplying its heating and hot water, and it contributes to the ‘BGreen’ project, mindful to reduce water and product consumption used in laundering. Ask about the myriad herbs and plants which supply the kitchens, carefully tended in the surrounding gardens and orchards. The estate bears holm oaks, almond trees and woodland plants in addition to its olives, and you can participate in the eco-effort by planting your own tree.
The attraction of La Bobadilla is its palatial feel within a self-contained rustic setting, conducive to relaxation and freeing yourself from outside cares. If you want to venture beyond however tours can be organised; recommended are routes of varying length hiking amongst the stunning mountain range of El Torcal de Antequera National Park. Its Jurassic age limestone, about 150 million years old, has been karstified to form unusually shaped, horizontal-lying blocks and rugged, rocky terrain, making for endlessly fascinating visual shapes at every turn, punctuated by local flora and fauna; watch carefully to glimpse mountain goats.