We recently had the opportunity to discover El Amparo, aka The Lemon Tree Retreat in the Axarquia mountains of Granada province.
This small luxury bed and breakfast is run by expats Nick, who is British, and Aussie Jody, together with their stellar local staff members – they proved to be the friendliest and warmest of hosts.
This region is still untouched by tourism and you can experience authentic rural Spain, while still being close enough to visit Seville, Granada or Córdoba. The must-see Alhambra Palace in Granada is just an hour away.
We were really amazed with just how above and beyond Nick, Jody and Ilu go to make sure their guests have everything they need, and above all, are happy. They arranged for our children to ride the local pony, and were very attentive hosts, always asking if we’d like a drink.
Our family suite, the Rosado, had plenty of space for the entire Spain Savvy family (our three kids each had their own bed!) and a nice walk-in shower. Bedding (hand-stiched with lemons, of course) was super comfortable and the overall design of the rooms was aesthetically pleasing. Jody has done a very nice job refurbishing and decorating the house, which has just eight rooms and suites, respecting traditional elements while infusing more modern amenities.
We had arranged to have dinner upon arrival, which proved to be perfectly chosen for both age groups. The kids were thrilled with their yummy pizza and ice-cream, while we had a delicious caramelized onion and goat cheese tart followed by oven-baked sea bass. Dessert was a to-die-for apple crumble with vanilla ice-cream! Breakfast, prepared fresh each morning by Ilu, featured local muffins, freshly-baked breads, a fruit spread and more, and was simply outstanding, with impeccable service.
Besides the pony, the kids absolutely loved splashing around in the hotel’s pool and lounging on the large sunbeds. We also had a nice walk in the surrounding countryside, searching for our favorite wildflowers and insects.
Nick and Jody are committed to showing their guests the best of this area, nestled in the mountainous Axarquia region that bridges both Málaga and Granada provinces. The hotel offers amazing local experiences, like visits to the local goat’s cheese farm, guided olive oil tastings, and more. They also specialize in events and have hosted quite a few weddings on their property.
We explored the town of Alhama de Granada and had a good lunch at Restaurante La Placeta – typical of this area is the choto frito or choto al ajillo (fried young goat, usually prepared with lots of garlic). We also visited the thermal baths at the nearby balneario and checked out the tiny village that The Lemon Tree pertains to – Santa Cruz del Comercio. Our kids were amazed to discover that there are only 25 children in the village’s entire primary school – the same number of kids as in just one of their classes! Now that’s #pueblolife redefined!
The Lemon Tree is only just over an hour’s drive from the coast, so on our way there we stopped at La Cala del Cañuelo, a remote cove just outside Nerja. It was a lovely beach and we were lucky that the local bar offered us a ride down the steep cliffs to the cove and then back up again, as it would have been quite the difficult walk! If you go to this beach, make sure you have lunch at El Paraíso del Cañuelo – we recommend the fresh, catch-of-the-day grilled fish.
If you’re interested in a rural stay, in off-the-beaten-path southern Spain, let us set you up at The Lemon Tree – you and your family won’t be disappointed!