Smack-bang in the middle of Seville and lesser-known (though equally ravishing) Jerez de la Frontera – amid acres of edenic farmland – this painstakingly restored cortijo delights from the get-go. Though rusticity reigns, its thatch-roofed casitas and bedrooms are the very embodiment of down-to-earth elegance, with bottle-green shutters, glazed terracotta tiles underfoot and canopied beds strewn with handwoven throws in kaleidoscopic hues. J
ust outside, cobbled courtyards are engulfed by tumbling clouds of hibiscus and bougainvillea, and a trifecta of lounger-flanked pools offer up the ideal antidote to the blazing Andalusian sun.
Tremendously pretty, with the oft-emulated sort of eclectic charm that’s launched a thousand mood boards, you’d struggle to find a more beguiling sun-washed spot to settle in at for a week, and come dusk, the clear, cerulean skies segue into the most heart-fluttering shade of pink.
All the allure of a carefree Spanish summer can be found right here; the rhythmic hum of cicadas echoes about the courtyards, air is thick with the heady scent of mimosa, and windows peer out across a golden haze of swaying sunflowers.
To call it an artfully styled home-from-home wouldn’t be far off – stacks of well-thumbed architectural tomes grace every tabletop and mantelpieces are heavy with equestrian ephemera – but really it’s so much more than that.
Days are blissfully unhurried, there’s a time-stopping sort of tranquillity to the place – save for the occasional splash as someone plunges into one of the shaded turquoise pools – and so irresistible is the breezy, no-worries mood that leaving is nigh on impossible.
Long, soft-focus days drift by in a contented blur of sun-worshipping stints and languid feasts beneath the olive trees. Menus might feature peppery gazpacho, grilled wild asparagus and tender Galician-style octopus with a kick of paprika – best washed down with an ice-cold carafe of crisp local white before retreating to one of the squishy, cushion-scattered daybeds for a postprandial siesta.
If you can peel yourself away from your poolside perch, winsome pueblos blancos – all with labyrinthine lanes well worth an afternoon amble – crest near enough every Andalusian hill, in atmospheric Jerez, the Moorish marvel that is the Alcázar mustn’t be missed, and the sandy, wind-whipped shores of the Costa de la Luz are but a scenic whoosh away.
Keen yogi? Invigorating sunrise sessions with visiting teachers can be arranged out in the fragrant, sun-dappled gardens at the drop of a hat.
Fly to Seville from London Heathrow with British Airways. From there it’s less than an hour’s drive to Hacienda de San Rafael.