Travelling through the flatlands beyond Seville’s colourful border, it is easy to miss the peaceful dusty track lined with white and pink oleanders leading to the hidden gem that is the Hacienda de San Rafael.
The glorious white-walled corjigo-style luxury hideaway used to be a thriving olive state until the sixties. Passed down through generations of the Reid family, the Hacienda is now run by Patrick and Anthony Reid, who are responsible for its stylish make over.
Upon arrival we are whisked through a grand living area decorated with antique reminders that you’re in the heart of bullfighting country. We pass through a beautiful bougainvillea-filled cobbled courtyard to reach our casita – a beach bungalow nestled beneath a thatched roof set on two glorious levels and filled with artefacts from the owner’s travels. The beds are huge and as you’d expect, so are the walk-in showers.
Each casita has a private cushioned lounge area set in a secret garden with access to an infinity pool. Lounging in your robe and slippers is the raison d’etre darling.
For those social beans, dinner is served in a twinkling outdoor terrace next to the Luna bar. The Spanish staff are attentive and friendly, taking great pride in serving locally-sourced Spanish cuisine; the Iberian ham is to die for.
All dietary requirements are catered for and if the team don’t have it they’ll source it for you, then they’ll offer you a trip to go and see how it’s produced and throw in a guide to enhance the experience – this is the Hacienda all over; striving to offer a truly personal holiday that is flexible enough to cater for all your requirements.
With three sun-drenched pools to choose from and numerous day beds overlooked by palm trees and butterflies, we didn’t see many other guests, even though the hotel was full.
Old romantics can dine under their own leafy canopy next to their casita – great if you need to touch up your lippy
The urge to explore the area soon dissipated as we lay basking in the Spanish sunshine, feasting on tapas for lunch, dining at our casita for dinner. Life is hard when your toughest decision is choosing between a massage or a manicure.
For the more discerning I’m told there is plenty to fill a day, from horse riding, to pig farm frequenting to bull fighting and sherry tasting, I may have partaken in the latter.
The Hacienda with its cobbled pathways, yellowstone walls, olive groves and pink petals is straight out of a magazine. It’s no wonder it plays host to a large number of weddings and private parties. I’m informed that they don’t attract the Lady Gagas, but they’ll attract her producers.
Although there is wifi available, cutting contact with the outside world and getting lost in this Spanish retreat is encouraged. E-what? Would I return? Do you really have to ask? I’d return for the ham alone.
+34 954 227 116 www.haciendadesanrafael.com, doubles from 275 euros a night
Sara Dawson is a journalist and web editor of www.maiden-voyage.com