My ‘palace’ life in the lap of luxury

The Alhambra Palace in Granada
The Alhambra Palace in Granada
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WITH the hotel built to resemble an Andalucian palace, it was no surprise I felt like a princess while a guest at Barcelo’s La Bobadilla.

Nestled in the countryside, in between Malaga and Granada, it oozed pure luxury - from the grand church-style vaulted entrance hall, to the smallest touches that only the best customer service provides.

granadasd'The breakfast dining room at La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

granadasd'The breakfast dining room at La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

The complex, built in 1985 by German entrepreneur Rudolf Staab, has spread out over the years from its original status as an awarding-winning restaurant - a role it continues today with its two top quality dining rooms - to become a five-star 70-bedroomed hotel, offering some of the finest accommodation in the area.

There is the 1,000 Euros a night presidential suite, complete with raised jacuzzi bath with patio doors overlooking the rolling hills and woodland, and a host of other rooms on a sliding scale of luxury.

It was no surprise to learn former guests have included Tom Cruise and the current King of Spain Don Juan Carlos I.

Our junior suite deluxe was like an apartment.

granadasd'Sarah Dunn takes a buggy for a spin around the woodland surrounding La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

granadasd'Sarah Dunn takes a buggy for a spin around the woodland surrounding La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

Located off a galleried landing overlooking a decorative water feature, the room opened out into a spacious sitting area. A balcony - offering an idyllic suntrap complete with stunning views over 350 acres of forest and olive groves - was a particular highlight, offering the perfect place to sip a glass of complimentary Spanish sherry.

The bedroom’s large lusciously draped window provided a glorious wake-up call each morning when the heavy shutters were opened up to let the sunshine stream through.

But it was the bathroom that was the highlight of the suite - spacious and contemporary, its crowning glory was a huge circular bath providing the perfect indulgence whether at the start or end of the day, while a separate shower cubicle was almost a room in its own right.

And if the rooms were a delight, then the grounds they were surrounded by added a whole other level.

granadasd'The gardens around the Alhambra Palace in Granada

granadasd'The gardens around the Alhambra Palace in Granada

Access was via a long driveway, leading for three kilometres through the deserted countryside. View points along the way providing glimpses of whitewashed hotel buildings clustered on the hillside, teasing you on the approach.

The gardens were lush and immaculate, complete with a 1,500 sq metre swimming pool, comfy sun loungers and palm trees, as well as tennis and badminton courts and even a chapel.

It was enough to lie in the gardens and while away a couple of hours taking in the surroundings, particularly as the sun beat down from a bright blue sky.

The wider area offered a series of activities.

granadasd'The stunning grounds of La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

granadasd'The stunning grounds of La Bobadilla hotel near Granada

There was horse riding and bikes to hire, but it was the go-kart style buggies that caught our eye.

It was enormous fun to don a hard hat, lower yourself into the seat and put your foot down on an exhilarating spin through the sand and dirt tracks - a welcome adrenaline shot after all the R&R of the trip.

That’s not to say the relaxation side wasn’t immensely enjoyable too, particularly in the hotel’s spa.

Here we were treated to a nourishing Cleopatra skin treatment which involved bathing in a combination of red wine and milk, alternating between the two.

Add in a bottle of Cava, fruit platter and chocolate truffle selection and the result was pure decadence, particularly when finished off with a dip in the spa pools and a visit to the steam room and sauna.

Dining at La Bobadilla was also another highlight.

The first night we ate at the La Finca restaurant, a venue which attracts visitors who are not necessarily guests at the hotel based on its reputation as one of the finest establishments in the area, and the only one in the Granada region to be awarded five forks in the REPSOL guide.

The class and elegance which was such a feature of the hotel continued in the dining room, where the attentive waiters also added an important human touch which made you feel at home.

All of the food was delicious, although highlights had to be the starter of spiced pumpkin foam topped with prawns and dessert of hot chocolate fondant served with violet ice cream.

The following two nights we had a table in the neighbouring El Cortijo restaurant where the high standards continued – particularly with the sirloin of beef with tarragon sauce, preceded by a dish of goats cheese wrapped in Iberian ham.

Although the hotel is a fully self-sufficient complex where guests can happily while away the hours and days, it is also worth noting that it sits within perfect exploring ground of a host of Andalucian delights.

Both Cordoba and Seville are within in easy reach, but we opted to spend a day in Granada, taking in a visit to the majestic Alhambra Palace.

Located around 70km away, it is accessible in under an hour.

It was delightful to stroll along some of the city’s quintessentially Spanish streets and squares, enjoying an ice cream by a cheerful fountain and a beer al fresco in the bustling Las Titas Kiosko riverside bar, filled with families out for a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine.

We had bought our tickets for the Alhambra in advance – a general morning, afternoon or evening slot and then a more specific entry time to the Nasrid Palaces, the only section of the sprawling grounds which give a set admission slot.

The Generalife Gardens are in themselves worthy of the 12 Euro entry fee, filled with bright blooms and twinkling water features all set against a back drop of stunning views of the imposing Moorish palace and the city below.

And so from one palace we headed back to the other which had been our home for three nights.

But unlike the fairytales where the princess is desperately waiting for Prince Charming to come and rescue her, I would have been happy to stay cocooned in the magic on offer at La Bobadilla for far longer.