Casa la Siesta in Vejer de la Frontera is a love story in property development. The owners met at a local Spanish class, fell in love, bought a house, sold it and then built this one brick by brick. You’d never guess it, though: this new-build has the charm and elegance of a place that’s been there for hundreds of years. The proof is in the perfection – all details are covered, from divine dinners and the lavender-scented landscape, to the finely tuned music and romantic bedrooms.
Seven, including four suites, plus a two-bedroom casita with a private pool, a two-bedroom cottage, and two-bedroom villa the Stables.
11am, but flexible if there’s availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £233.61 (€272), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include soft drinks, beer and breakfast.
The hotel has a house cat, Sombra (which means shadow in Spanish). He's a tame, friendly chap who loves a stroke from guests.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, gardens, bikes to hire and a book/CD library. In rooms: preloaded iPod and Ren bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Go to sleep in the Honeymoon Suite and wake up looking out to the rolling hills through the wall of glass doors. It’s also home to a crystal chandelier, a dressing table with an antique brush and mirror, a roll-top bath behind the bed and two enormous rain-head showers. Spacious Suite 3 is the breeziest: it has terraces on both sides of the building.
There’s a heated pool at the bottom of the garden overlooking the green hills and wind turbines in the distance.
No beach towels: there’ll be one ready to use in your room.
There’s a two-night minimum stay. With a bit of notice, yoga and massages can be arranged.
Children are welcome on select dates in the summer and autumn; check before booking. There's babysitting (€20 a child an hour) and cooking, pottery, flamenco and Spanish classes.
Water is solar-heated, everything that can be is recycled and all the building materials are reclaimed.
One of the tables for two by the window so you can look out over the gardens.
What you’d wear to your friend’s house for a slap-up supper.
There’s no restaurant, but the owners lay on a table d’hôte with the best local offerings from that morning's markets and the hotel's gardens: so close to the sea, there's always an abundance of fresh fish on offer. The hotel has a small but well-stocked wine cellar packed full of wonderful Spanish wines and sherries. Children's menus are available when the hotel becomes family-friendly.
There’s an honesty bar with wine and spirits which guests can help themselves to 24 hours a day.
Breakfast is served between 9am and 11am. Grab lunch from 2pm and dinner from 8pm until midnight. Children can dine earlier on request.
Light bites can be brought up to your room from noon until 7pm.
The nearest airport is Jerez, 40km away. Direct flights from the UK land at Gibraltar airport, which is slightly further away from the hotel and will take about an hour and 15 minutes by car. Our helpful Smith24 Team can help arrange your flights and organise transfers (03331 306 875).
Cadiz has a train station which will connect you to Madrid via Seville, and Barcelona direct (but it’s a long slog; book an overnighter). Services are operated by Renfe (www.renfe.com). It’s around a 40-minute drive from the hotel.
Head out of Vejer and into the surrounding countryside on the A2229 and CA4200: Casa la Siesta is in a hamlet 10 minutes away. Parking nearby costs €5 a day. Call our Smith24 Team to organise a hire car.
Worth getting out of bed for
The nearest beach is El Palmar, 15km out of Vejer. It’s wide and sandy with a restaurant or two to choose from. Slightly further away, Conil’s protected cove beaches are at the bottom of a looming cliff face. There are several golf courses nearby, including Montenmedio Country Club and Sherry Golf Jerez. If the surf’s up, the hotel can arrange lessons, and they can hook you up with horses to ride, too.
In the mediaeval quarter of Vejer, enjoy North African-inspired cuisine among the vaulted stone cellars and peaceful gardens of La Casa del Califa (+34 956 447 730) on Plaza de España. Up on a hill top above the beaches of Vejer and Conil, Restaurante Patria (+34 956 448 463) has a small but frequently changing menu and a wide selection of Spanish wines. Venta Pinto (+34 956 450 069) is a typical Andalucian restaurant on the way down to Vejer from the hotel.
The black silhouette of Andalucían hill town Vejer de la Frontera in Cadiz is crested with a halo of streetlights. We’ve just driven from the tiny airport of Jerez and it’s a welcome sight at 10.30pm on a Friday night in Spring. Armed with a scribbled napkin map from a charming waiter in a chic Vejer taverna, we venture along country lanes, wind down the windows and treat our lungs to clean spring air loaded with the scent of sweet jasmine and new grass shoots.
Hidden on the pitch-black country roadside is a small signpost for Casa La Siesta. There’s a welcoming glow from the butterscotch stone walls of this impressive country residence. Mrs Smith grapples with the intercom and soon we’re through the gates, crunching down the gravel drive. Engine switched off, we hear the mesmerising purr of crickets and frogs in chorus.
At the entrance to the property is a diminutive figure; we carry our bags towards her as she beckons ‘Hola! Me llamo Maria Jose,’ in a thick Andalucian accent. In the distance, a donkey bays and the hillsides ricochet with barks from a pack of restless farm dogs. Weary from a week in London, but dizzy with anticipation, we make our way into the gorgeous biscuit-toned interior of Casa La Siesta. Mrs Smith and I look at each other, drop our bags in the terracotta-tiled room, gawp at the flickering candles and the farmhouse-chic furniture and we smile. Goosebumps are riding up the back of our necks.
Too excited to go to our room, we follow Maria Jose into the L-shaped courtyard on tiptoe, so as not to disturb the other guests. At the bottom of the garden, amid lush grass, is a spectacularly lit, large turquoise swimming pool. Rosemary bushes billow from the herbaceous borders and white-cotton curtains dance in the night breeze under a festoon of illuminated bulbs.
‘I’m sure a black cloaked, sword-brandishing Antonio Banderas is going to jump down from the roof any second,’ says Mrs Smith. Well, it does feel like a filmset inspired by a Mexican hacienda and an Andalucían cortijo. Maria Jose steers us inside and shows us a help-yourself fridge packed with ice-cold baby bottles of Cruzcampo and gestures to our room-key dangling from a wooden wall chest. We skip upstairs, open the door and we are greeted by another candlelit scene.
Vases burst with pink, blue, yellow, purple, red wildflowers from the grassy meadows. There’s a Cleopatra-style antique bathtub in the middle. After inadvertently spraying the bedroom floor Mrs Smith decides on a rainforest shower in the terracotta-tiled alcove. I fling open shutters to reveal an intoxicating view of Andalucia by night. As I focus on curious white lights in the distance, a rush of fresh Atlantic air stirs the many palm fronds.
Casa La Siesta’s interior design feels like a spread from slick Spanish magazine, Casa Campo. An unpretentious mix of blonde woods, pretty reclaimed antiques, stone floors, sage shutters ¬– it’s what us Brits call homely. Barely an hour after our arrival and Mrs Smith is plotting to take over the place for her birthday in September, convinced it’s perfect for a party.
After a deliciously deep sleep in expensive cotton sheets, we’re woken by the drum of a spring thunderstorm, crowing cockerels and the jangle of goat bells. A shard of dawn sunlight streams across the room. It’s time for breakfast.
A scattering of small white-clothed tables greets us downstairs in the main room where young, debonair guests talk in low voices. A parade of tiny dishes arrive including perfectly ripe avocado chunks drizzled in luminous-green virgin olive oil and freshly baked bread – heaven, surely?
Behind us a young chap dressed in shorts and a white Lacoste tee is smiling from behind a desk. Mrs Smith strikes up conversation and he turns out to be the mastermind behind this boutique gem. He is Lee and his wife, Amelia, is outside pushing their baby in a pram. Disenchanted with London the two moved to Vejer to learn Spanish. A few years later they’re living the dream in Andalucia, with ample space to raise a family.
Lee and Amelia’s attention to detail, style, proportions and sense of space has created the type of property you wish was your own home or country escape. Mrs Smith is so excited that she ask the former barrister where she can buy similar pieces of furniture insisting that Lee open a shop so that guests can plunder their chic.
Mountainous national parkland and spectacular views across to North Africa’s Atlas peaks is next on our agenda. After an introduction to Ringo the black pooch, we speed 30 minutes east along the coast to one of my favourite spots in the world: Tarifa. Kite-surfing across wind-blasted cobalt ocean occupies the day, capped off with ice-cold beers on the grass at Valdevaqueros beach. We get so carried away that we miss our massages at the hotel.
Under a violet sky, we head back at 9pm. A quick shower later and we jump into our car again and scoot to a nearby restaurant up in the hills. Blink and you’ll miss the tiny eatery in the unexciting hamlet. Blessed with sweeping views of the Andalucian countryside our dining experience in the tiny and wonderfully modest La Patria is outstandingly good. So much so I furiously file off stories about this gem owned by Ose and Thomas from Copenhagen, to magazines back home.
Thinking of selling up, taking up Spanish and living the Andalucian dream too now? It’s been a soul-uplifting getaway – but if you fancy following in Lee and Amelia’s footsteps, go with your eyes wide open. These guys work deceptively hard to create their seemingly effortlessly chic rural retreat. Lucky for us.