Vejer de la Frontera »
Built on the site of the original farmhouse, the John Pawson-inspired construction is pure simplicity from the outside: white walls and roof; straight lines, and tiny windows down both sides of the H-shaped design. But walk into the central 60-square metre living space through one of the two glass sliding doors (better said walls, due to their immense extension), and the effect is quite the opposite: you are met by a myriad of colours, forms, and textures, as the cosiness of the sitting room, with its vast comfy sofa, its fireplace and nice pieces of furniture, fuses with the grove of gnarled olive trees, framed within the glass wall opposite. At first site, you probably won’t even notice the kitchen; but it's all there, at the far end of the living space: sink, plenty of cutting area, hob, oven, etc....the only give away is the state-of-the-art extractor fan; but, like everything in this house, it is perfect in its inconspicuousness.
The sensation is the same in the bedrooms, which occupy the two wings of the “H”: those facing north look out through the olive trees; and the south-facing room, like the south side of the living area, opens on to a terrace that is surrounded by aromatic herbs and partially shaded by a vine. It is an ideal spot for breakfast or sitting in the winter sun. The bedrooms (2 twins and 1 double), decorated with soft pinks and blues, are traditional in their form, their steep sloping ceilings in keeping with what would surely have been the shape of the original farmhouse. Yet the bathrooms are modern and functional, and perfect in their simplicity: clean lines of marble and glass, and then a peak of undulating Andalusia through a small square window.
The property is often occupied by its owners, and this shows. Old books, photos, interesting objects d’art, the personalised ceramic plates, the hi-tech telescope for star-gazing. This is no ordinary holiday let; and you are continuously aware of the fact that you are in somebody's much-loved home. The outside is equally well cared for; the gardener visiting several times a week to ensure that the pool is perfect, that the gravelled terraces are clean, and that you are well supplied with vegetables from the La Valdesa kitchen garden. There is also a good supply of oranges and lemons in season, and even a lunar lemon tree, which produces baby lemons with every new moon, thereby ensuring that your G&T is well accompanied whatever the season!
With 3ha of land, there are umpteen places to sit and enjoy this magical spot: on the main terrace looking down through the olive grove; at the end of the property, contemplating the vast views across to the sierra; have breakfast on the south terrace, or next to the running water on the western corner; or idly swing in the hammock next to the pool, which has been built to simulate a traditional alberca. If the view across dozens of miles of Andalusian campo (in many ways more akin to Africa) makes you wonder how such extensive unspoilt beauty can still exist in mainland Europe, this is because you are looking out over one of the continent's great farms, the Domecq’s farm for fighting bulls (don't worry, there are a number of roads, streams and fences between you and them!) La Valdesa’s privileged location of course offers numerous opportunities for walking and biking. But if you are planning a less energetic stay, even the short stroll up the track outside the house will all of a sudden bring the magical Vejer-de-la-Frontera into view, perched on the hill right opposite. An alternative is to walk down and fill your water bottles at the natural spring, hidden in an oasis of fig trees on the rough track that connects the house to the road.
It is a 10-minute drive into Vejer (5 minutes on La Valdesa's rough entrance track!), with its selection of restaurants, bars, and cultural activities, 30 minutes to Cadiz, and 30 minutes to Tarifa. The nearest beach (a beauty) is a 15-minute drive, at Zahora or El Palmar (between Cape Trafalgar and Conil).Get the full listing »
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