What: Casa Olea – taking its name from the olea europaea (olive tree)
Location: Priego de Cordoba, under two hours from Seville, Granada and Malaga
Why go: ranked number 4 in the Top 25 Best B&Bs in Spain 2015 by Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards, Priego de Cordoba is home to the best olive oil in the world
Rooms: six rooms
When: Goats cheese festival (Feris del Queso) in Zuheros in September, daily processions for Semana Santa in Priego de Cordoba throughout Easter, Noche Blanca de Flamenco (White Night of Flamenco) in Cordoba on 20 June
The first thing you’ll notice about the Casa Olea, a beautiful rural retreat among the best in Andalucía, Spain, is the amazing smell as you arrive, engulfing your senses like the most luxurious perfume, only this is no perfume.
The Casa Olea uses 100% green energy feeding the boiler with olive stones. When a place smells this divine you know you’re in for a treat.
English-born Tim and Claire spent five years renovating their ancient cortijo (farmhouse) into a beautiful all-weather rural retreat among the best I’ve stayed in.
Sitting proudly at number 4 in Trip Adviser’s top ten best B&Bs in Spain in 2015, the white-washed retreat is surrounded by the silver-tinged olive groves of the Sierra Subbética.
The Casa Olea is the perfect mini break
The Casa Olea is the perfect mini break – only a couple of hours from Seville, Granada and Malaga. Imagine walking in the jagged hills surrounded by almond blossom accompanied by Ruby, the Casa Olea’s adopted stray dog, or cycling along the disused railway line of the Tren de Aceite (olive oil train).
The Casa Olea is perfect for those who want to get away and focus on good food, wine and conversation.
Entering the Casa Olea you’re met by an airy hallway leading to a beautiful stairwell with views overlooking the hills. The themed bedrooms are rustic and in keeping with the local area, yet stylish with all the modern comforts, including large walk-in showers and eco-toiletries.
The six rooms mean that mingling with guests is part of the charm, we often stayed up sampling the local wine and sherry (perhaps a little too enthusiastically) with Americans, Germans and Swiss to name but a few.
The Casa Olea has a cosy, relaxed and informal feel, but perhaps this is more to do with the personality of the hosts.
Tim and Claire are incredibly passionate about their corjito; Tim hosts the guests and is a fountain of knowledge of the area, while Claire cooks up gastronomic feasts morning and night.
Their passion is infectious, I found myself taking beer bottles back with me to promote Andalucian beer to bar owners in the UK.
If you love rich delicious locally-sourced food this is for you.
The couple share their love of local food and produce by hosting tasting sessions. Their olive oil tasting is particularly good.
Andalucía is Spain’s largest olive producer, in fact six of the world’s best olive oils are from Andalucía, only one is Italian – www.worldsbestoliveoils.org/worlds-best-olive-oils.html. The region exports 50% of its olives to Italy, where they are then bottled and sold as Italian – always check the label.
If you love rich delicious locally-sourced food this is for you. Extra virgin olive oil is a proven super food, filled with anti-oxidants, it can boost circulation and lower cholesterol; it’s even good for the libido.
The Casa Olea is the perfect base for the foodie trailblazer; neighbouring Zuheros famous for goat’s cheese is a short drive away, as is the romantic city of Cordoba, where you can explore the wonderful range of tabernas serving delicious tapa day and night.
I love how Tim and Claire have tirelessly breathed life into a ruin and made it a popular thoroughfare buzzing with local culture and produce. They’ve gone green without losing any of the comfort and luxury.
This is an amazing secret escape in a hidden corner of Andalucia, where you can relax surrounded by unspoilt mountains, olive groves, while sampling fine wines and home cooking, only a short drive away from two cultural must-sees Cordoba and Granada. What are you waiting for?
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By Sara Dawson, Travel blogger and web editor of www.maiden-voyage.com