Basque Country, Spain

Casona de Quintana

Rates from (inc tax)$113.01

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR111.10), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Curated country house

Setting

Silent Soba valley

A rustic stone country house in a secluded valley, Casona de Quintana hotel in Cantabria is a cosy casa with welcoming hosts and equally inviting mountain views. Décor includes artistic antiques, soft neutral tones and original beamed ceilings. Dine on the terrace to savour the slow pace of rural life or take a day trip to nearby buzzing Bilbao. Hiking on local hilly trails helps work up an appetite for elegant meals.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of room fragrance by Amelie et Melanie

Facilities

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Need to know

Rooms

Eight, including one suite.

Rates

Double rooms from $113.01 (€101), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next {dayrange} days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR111.10), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (€10).

Also

Pillows are big business around here: each room has a menu with options for various feather preferences.

At the hotel

Gardens, shop and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV with a built-in DVD player, CD player and Pure Harvest or Lauren Hutton bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Each room is styled with a particular ambience in mind (regal, rustic, etc) – our vote goes to the romantic Junior Suite El Castano for its feminine French feel, with whitewashed furniture, drapes over the bed and grey and white antiques. Contemporary-cool hunters will like the modern El Roble (a Junior Suite), especially its all-slate bathroom. Splash out on the Tower Suite to see how the old wooden beams were used to create an impressive centerpiece in the bedroom.

Packing tips

The hotel may be close to the Bay of Biscay, but the misty mountains can get muggy – wellies and a brolly may come in handy.

Also

Buy a little bit of the owners’ chic French style in the hotel shop, selling beautiful pieces for your home, white blouses and candles, as well as preserves.

Children

Welcome, but the trinkets and antiques may not be toddler-proof.

Food and Drink

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At the hotel

 Co-owner Nuria heads up the kitchen, where she uses only local produce to make hearty dishes that are gracefully presented. The dining room has an airy feel thanks to high ceilings and whitewashed Provençal furniture. Elegant, feminine touches include a French dresser and a cabinet of porcelain.

At the bar

 Upstairs in the cosy living room of this country-house hotel is a bar with board games in the corner and a fireplace. When it's quiet, it's run as an honesty bar, though during busier months, the room will be staffed.

Location

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Address
Casona de Quintana
C/ Sitio del Castillo, 1
39806
Quintana de Soba
Spain

Planes

The drive from Bilbao airport should take an hour and 15 minutes. From Santander, allow an hour. EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) serves Bilbao; for routes into Santander, try Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) or British Airways (www.ba.com).

Trains

Take a train from elsewhere in Spain to Bilbao or Santander (www.renfe.es), but getting to these remote, rural parts will be far easier by car, so pick up a hire vehicle at one of these cities.

Automobiles

To reach the hotel from Bilbao, head west along the coast on the A-8, then drop down south into the hills. Coming with your own car is recommended.

Worth getting out of bed for

This remote mountain setting is the perfect place to get back to nature – head into the Collados del Asón Natural Park for the area’s best hiking and cycling trails, as well as birdwatching opportunities. The wetlands of the Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Reserve also play host to various migrating species in winter. Marvel at the prehistoric paintings at some local caves (cuevas.culturadecantabria.com), or for golden beaches, try Laredo, Noja or the sandy stretch in Santoña.

Local restaurants

Michelin-starred Restaurante la Solana (+34 942 676718; www.restaurantesolana.com) at Santuary de la Bien Aparecida is where to go for innovative fine dining. Coventosa (+34 942 678066) in Asón is a great lunch spot offering excellent regional food. In Santander, try Dias de Sur (+34 942 362070) for tapas, international food and an impressive wine selection.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

By Rory Bremner, Stand-up chameleon

Here’s a strange thing. One minute, you’re bowling along the motorway west of Bilbao, the ports and beaches of the Bay of Biscay away down to your right. The next, you’ve taken a left turn and found yourself, for some unaccountable reason, in Switzerland. D’oh! The road twists and turns through wooded valleys, mountains rise above you, wooden and stone chalets with verandas and log piles decorate the hillsides. Cowbells clank, old tractors pull carts, dusty dogs, stray cats and chickens scavenge in farmyards.

Do not adjust your SatNav. This is Cantabria. Brochures might describe it as undiscovered Spain; this would be news to Paleolithic man, who discovered it over 20,000 years ago and left paintings in the caves to prove it. But, for all intents and purposes, it’s Switzerland in the springtime. Who knew? Even after a hot summer, everything is green: forests, meadows, hills. They even call it Green Spain. From this you’ll gather that the rain in Spain falls not on the plain, but mainly in Cantabria. 47 inches a year, on average.

We’d come to see the art galleries in Bilbao (the spectacular Guggenheim and the Museo de Bellas Artes) and thought we’d spend a couple of nights up in the hills. Which brings us back to… D’oh! After the twists and turns, down a long valley, we found Casona de Quintana, and its delightful owners, Josep and Nuria. Antique dealers from Barcelona, they moved to this 17th-century farmhouse just over 10 years ago to realise their dream of running a small guesthouse, where Nuria would cook and Josep would manage the hotel.

Their dedication is everywhere: each room (there are eight) is tastefully and beautifully arranged with antiques and linen. Two junior suites have glazed terraces where you can read in the sun (or the rain) and the spacious master suite, with its own outside terrace, is in the old tower. Everything is neat and clean in wood and stone, the ambience simple and charming. Forget cool, hip, contemporary: think rustic, charming, quiet, peaceful. A grass terraced garden winds up the hill behind the house, but there is no pool. The weather’s not hot enough, says Josep. You’d only use it for a few weeks a year. He plans to put in an outside Jacuzzi soon.

The bright gallery dining room looks out over the valley at the hilltops (and wind farm) opposite. Here, dinner is served at 9pm (this is Spain; it can, of course, be requested earlier) – delicious, simple three-course country fare (tuna carpaccio, onion tart, risotto, stew, figs with honey) – all cooked by Nuria. At nine the next morning, the croissants arrive and continental breakfast is served. For lunch, you need to venture 20 minutes down the valley to one of the larger towns.

Josep is always around to ask if you need anything, if you’re getting the sense that the Casona’s not geared up to provide full-on five-star service round the clock. So kind and gentle were our hosts that we felt almost embarrassed to bother them; but it’s a long time to wait for dinner at nine if you haven’t requested an earlier sitting. Nuria will happily do you a small picnic, or rustle up a sandwich if you ask in advance. Since guests are expected to be off exploring during the day, particular as it is only an hour’s drive to Bilbao, Santander and San Sebastián, most folks usually opt for the local dinnertime.

Quintana is one of two dozen hamlets dotted around the valley of Soba, and to call it the largest isn’t to say it’s big: when Josep and Nuria arrived here, they represented a population explosion, swelling the numbers by ten per cent. The houses fall into three categories – or, in the case of the third category, just fall; those that aren’t derelict are either in the process of rebuilding – incoming Sarah Beenys realising their dream of restoring a house in this peaceful, unspoilt valley – or are traditional farmsteads, their yards home to chickens, rusting equipment, and the odd pig. As we strolled around the village – there is only just over a score of houses in the entire place – and we met a small herd of cows ambling the other way, looking like they could barely be bothered to be milked. This is definitely off-the-beaten-track, proper rustic, ideal for walkers, bikers, birdwatchers, visitors to the amazing caves (did I mention the caves?) or those seeking peace and quiet.

The Casona is definitely more rustic-but-refined guesthouse than full-service hotel. Although funnily enough it does actually have a boutique – a sweet and lovingly created little shop selling candles, fragrances, linen and teapots. Nuria’s cooking is delicious; the entries in the five-year-old guestbook (which start off in Spanish, and then are increasingly in English) all, without exception, sing praise for the food and hospitality.

With my mystery-reviewer hat on I observed that there could be an honesty bar with a fridge full of cold drinks – and in fact there is a well-stocked bar in the living room. There was a day when we craved lunch of a simple salad off the menu, even though you can request cold cuts in the dining room, the garden or your room – but the owners’ gentleness makes this sound like carping, and I don’t mean to. What they’re offering is a home from home. And that’s what makes it so special.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Casona de Quintana’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The welcome, the scenery

Don’t expect

Cafes and bars

Rating

Stayed on 11 Aug 2016

We loved

Cosy bedroom with a beautiful view. Excellent hosts - they really made us feel at home and went out of their way to make sure our every need was met. It's a small hotel so each guest gets a personalised service. The food was absolutely delicious with many fresh local delicacies. Recommend visiting Nacimiento del Rio Ason - a waterfall in the National Park. You have to walk down a rocky path to get there but it's a sight worth seeing.

Don’t expect

Don't expect an easy drive. The hotel is situated in a more secluded place than we realised and we never would have found it without the satnav! It's in this tiny village way up inside the mountains.

Rating

Stayed on 5 Jun 2016

We loved

The location - a stunningly beautiful shangri-la. Our hosts - Jose and Nuria. The house - beautiful. Castillana del Mar is a beautiful Medieval town and the Soba Valley is exquisite. The area is full of caves with early drawings - wonderful sense of pre-history.

Don’t expect

A lively time. This is a mountain village with cows, goats and semi-wild horses.

Rating

Stayed on 11 Apr 2016

We loved

The peace and quiet. The food was good breakfast and dinner. The owner provided good service.

Don’t expect

Slick modern anything.

Rating

Stayed on 11 Sep 2015

We loved

The peace, the endless mountains and river valleys, the food and wine

Don’t expect

Nightlife: this is a place for a small romantic retreat for two

Rating

Stayed on 5 Aug 2015

We loved

The place really feels like home. Loved the cool night breeze, comfortable bed, the great gin selection in the living room and the home-feel taste food.

Don’t expect

Anything that is loud or rushy

Rating

Stayed on 16 Jul 2015

We loved

The location and friendly owners.

Don’t expect

Not very easy to get there.

Rating

Stayed on 25 Jun 2015

We loved

This establishment is one the most charming and welcoming hotels we have had the good fortune to visit and stay at. We were able to book the Tower Suite which was quite simply all we could have hoped for. We had an outstanding dinner with great wines and breakfast the following morning was delicious and authentically Spanish. Our hosts Jose and Nuria were charming and we were made to feel so welcome.

Rating

Stayed on 21 Oct 2014

We loved

Beautiful building in the mountains of Cantabria, very good food, very caring and helpful staff, rooms are big and lovely furnished. There is also a cosy bar in the 'living room' where you can enjoy the evening.

Don’t expect

I thought the hotel hard to find – there seemed to be no signs on the roads nearby.

Rating

Stayed on 24 Sep 2014

We loved

We stayed 2 nights at Casona de Quintana, a modernized country get-away and probably the best accommodation in the area. The owners Jose and Nuria are very friendly people who were always helpful. Nuria is a great cook and prepared delicious meals from local fresh products that you have to book in advance. This we definitely recommend! We also bought several nice things from Amelia et Melanie - Nuria's shop. 

Rating

Stayed on 30 Aug 2014