Around 12 million people from the UK holiday in Spain every year. And this long-standing love affair is one that shows no sign of abating. Indeed, a record number of British holidaymakers flocked there last year – attracted by the promise of sunshine, sea and sangria.
The last time I ventured to Spain I was a teenager holidaying with my first boyfriend, and I was distinctly underwhelmed by the experience. With the whole world to explore, quite frankly I saw no need to head back there.
Fifteen years on, how things have changed. Although in fairness I didn’t exactly stay at your average Spanish resort. My husband and I booked a fiveday break at Barceló La Bobadilla. This five-star hotel is located in Loja, Granada, and from the moment our taxi pulled off the main road and on to the winding lane leading to the hotel’s expansive courtyard, we were basically in heaven.
Situated in 1,000 acres of private and protected grounds between Málaga, Granada, Seville and Córdoba, the hotel is built in a style reminiscent of ancient Andalusian palaces. Greeted with a glass of cava at the door, we started relaxing the moment we arrived. Katy and Gary Pearson
Our room, one of 70, was vast. We had a private balcony and a bath so big that I felt I was swimming (even my 6ft 3in husband could stretch out with ease) and the uninterrupted views across the Mediterranean woodland were nothing short of spectacular.
Barceló La Bobadilla boasts an enormous outdoor swimming pool of 1,500 sq m. And at no point did it ever feel crowded – or even busy. There was an abundance of loungers and even a handful of four-poster beds to doze away your afternoons on. The peace and tranquillity that prevails throughout the hotel and the grounds cannot be underestimated – it quite literally soothed the soul.
And the marvellous pool isn’t all that’s on offer. The on-site U-Spa includes a fully equipped fitness centre, five treatment rooms, a heated indoor swimming pool, a whirlpool with therapeutic hydro jets, a Turkish bath, a sauna, thermal loungers and a couples’ ‘Deluxe Spa Suite’ with two hydro-massage Jacuzzis. You can also explore a vast estate growing olive trees, play tennis or badminton, go horse riding or even try your hand at archery.
There are three restaurants at the hotel. El Cortijo, offering divine Spanish and regional dishes; the outdoor Mirador restaurant, open only in the summer months, serving sublime seasonal food; and La Finca – the region’s only ‘five-fork’ (translation: luxurious) restaurant.
While we enjoyed retreating from the rest of the world and just contentedly pottered our way around the hotel’s facilities, Barceló La Bobadilla is ideally situated to see more of Spain’s cultural attractions. Just 35km away there the Antequera’s dolmens (ancient megalithic tombs). Or 20km away one can find Loja’s fountains and natural springs (including a 25-spout fountain, and Fuente Santa, renowned for the medicinal properties of its waters). And the thermal baths of Alhama De Granada are just 40km away.
Having enjoyed quite possibly the most relaxing five days of my life, it came as no surprise to realise that Barceló La Bobadilla is a member of the consortium The Leading Hotels Of The World.
It’s certainly not your stereotypical cheap and cheerful holiday to Spain. Barceló La Bobadilla was worth the 15-year wait and has made a Spanish convert out of me.
Rooms are from €210 per room per night, including breakfast (based on two sharing): www.barcelolabobadilla.com