Calle Amargura 6, Mairena
The Buzz Trips View
If you want to experience a generous slice of Andalucian village life, this is the place. Mairena is a close knit community in Las Alpujarras. David and Emma Illsley, who own Casa Rural Las Chimeneas, don’t just run a charming and quaint B&B/rural hotel in the Sierra Nevada foothills, they’re also an integral and active part of Mairena itself.This is a rural getaway for people who want to enjoy Andalucian country living combined with good food and fine local wines in a setting that could easily be part of a best selling travel book – oops, wait a minute Chris Stewart has already done that with Driving Over Lemons.
Las Chimeneas is quite different from other rural accommodation we’ve stayed in throughout Spain in that it’s not one house but various houses spread around a small immaculately whitewashed corner of the village. It makes visitors feel more a part of Mairena. On the way to breakfast (about five paces) we’d smile a ‘hola’ to the old man who lived in between our apartment and that of other guests. Watch out for his cats by the way, they’ll try to tell you they’re starving even though he feeds them bowls filled with juicy fillets.
Mairena is a typically sleepy Andalucian village with one shop and a bar, both with mysterious hours. It’s a picturesque place to explore with some interesting features to discover at a leisurely pace; seek out the old fountains, wander around the church, take a tour around the olive oil factory and climb above the village to watch sunset from the era (old threshing circle) viewpoint.
There’s a choice of accommodation all with its own personality. Las Chimeneas’ rooms are located in the main house, where each room has it own private balcony or terrace; the Casita is a self contained, two bedroomed house; the Corrall, a peach of a cosy little stand alone house where we enjoyed a Drambuie or two beside a roaring fire with occupants and fellow guests John and Rita. And finally there’s the Azotea, our pepper-drying loft home for the week complete with rocking chairs in front of a wood burning stove (perfect for a glass of wine in the evening) and a small terrace with inspiring views across Las Alpujarras.
Each of the rooms are designed in a pleasingly bright and contemporary but also rustic fashion; they are simply comfortable places to chill out after exploring the countryside.
Nature provides most of the facilities that the sort of people who will lap up Casa Las Chimeneas will need. Step out of the door and explore in any direction to find olive and citrus groves, chestnut tree lined paths, villages that are distant cousins of those in the Atlas Mountains and a quirky church which, apart from having intriguing ancient wall murals in its interior, has the Star of David as well as a cross on its roof.
There is also a small swimming pool and a communal lounge with free wifi doubles as a rustic business centre whilst those who haven’t embraced the world of the three Ws can choose a book from the library and curl up on a rocking chair in front of a roaring fire.
Meals are served in a separate dining room. Unless there’s a theme week like the Moro Cookery week we enjoyed, the food is traditional with knobs on; imaginative local cuisine (e.g. quail with fig and jamon serrano filling and meatballs in an almond sauce) courtesy of local cook Soledad and assistant Conchi. Vegetarian options are available. The dining room also doubles as the social hub; when the dinner plates are cleared away the quaffing of various Veleta wines from a local bodega continues.
Staying at Las Chimeneas is one of those special travel experiences. Although nature provides a lot of the special ingredients, the easy friendliness of David and Emma Illsley and their staff, for whom nothing is too much trouble, makes staying in Mairena feel as though you’re spending time with good amigos.
Themed weeks like the Moro Cookery one are great fun and you pick up some exceptional tips. Check out what goodies are coming up at Inntravel. Alternatively, if escape for tranquil R&R is all you desire go straight to the Las Chimeneas website.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+