Hacienda De San Rafael, Andalusia
Mustard yellow earth, shuttered windows, a bougainvillea-filled courtyard, private verandas, hushed gardens. Beg and borrow to get here, San Rafael will steal your heart. This is one of Spain’s secret gems for summer breaks. The non-hotel hotel and the stuff summer breaks are made of. Discreet, handsome, run and loved by the family who live here. You can walk around barefoot, listen to the birds waking up, snooze on a sunbed next to one of three glimmering swimming pools, pluck an orange from a tree or read a book next to the fireplace in the sitting room. There are just 14 rooms, all of them super-pretty, and beds come with electric blankets for colder nights. A villa for families is in the making and is sure to be a hit for those seeking even more privacy. If you can stir yourself, visit Seville, Jerez and Cadiz; go horseriding, enjoy cooking lessons, explore the region. But it really is tough leaving the place. There’s a mass of lovely nooks to loll in and the staff will do anything to please. Lunch will warrant a long afternoon siesta: huge house salads, Manchego, fried squid, spot-on guacamole, Spanish omelettes. They make excellent puddings and even children will love the vegetables. Put it on your list.
BOOK IT: haciendadesanrafael.com