Almost at the tip of Spain, in Andalucia, lies the medieval town of Vejer de la Frontera, close enough to the coast for easy access to beaches, but far enough away to feel like a different world.
Within it is situated Siete Balcones (y un patio), an 18th-century townhouse which has been converted into a 3 room boutique hotel by its owners, ceramic artists with a workshop on the premises – the name means Seven Balconies (and a patio). The house is typical of the local architecture, with a profusion of wrought iron, white-washed interiors, a roof terrace and a cool central patio for when the Spanish heat becomes too much. Artwork by local artists adorn the walls.
The owners have created an ambience of laid-back informality, with an honesty bar and breakfast you assemble yourself and eat in your bedroom or kitchenette, or in the shared communal areas.
Vejer has been described by travel writer Jan Morris as ‘perhaps Spain’s most spectacular village’. Its white houses gleam on a hillside 200m above the surrounding countryside, and the town affords incredible views of the sierra, the Atlantic and Africa beyond.
Siete Balcones is located within Vejer’s fortified walls, built in the 15th century after the Christian conquest of the town. 550 years of Arabic rule preceded it, and the evidence is everywhere in the narrow cobbled streets, white-washed walls, Moorish castle and many Moorish archaelogical remains.
Wandering through this unspoilt little town and under its famous arches, and discovering the fascinating way Moorish buildings live beneath or inside more recent additions, is illuminating for anyone interested in the history of Spain. For sun-worshippers, and the active, nine separate beaches are within 20km of the town, including El Palmar, only 10km away and famous for its surfing.
Hiking trails take visitors through the nearby Parque Natural de Las Breñas, with its spectacular cliff face. 12km away is Cape Trafalgar, where Nelson defeated the French in 1805. It’s now a lively beach resort with a buzzy summer nightlife scene.
Siete Balcones serves breakfast only, of cheese and cold meats, eggs cooked to taste, fresh fruit, bread, jams and honey. Head into Vejer to find tapas bars and traditional Andalusian cuisine, as well as more international offerings.