Friday 22 October 2010

Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera, Partido de los Frontones, Ronda, Andalusia

Housed in a sympathetically-extended and restored country house overlooking a fine stretch of Andalusian countryside, the Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera is both a good place to chill out and a good base for exploring the historic town of Ronda. From the terrace, where you can eat your fine buffet breakfast, there are spectacular views through the mature garden, across the verdant valley to the picturesque hills beyond. Inside, the tasteful and high-quality decor, fittings and furniture are built to last and to appeal. Arty black and white photographic prints line the cream walls, which are mostly bathed in natural light. In the central atrium, lit by a large skylight, climb the cream staircase, for an ariel view of the massive tropical plant, the small honesty bar and to admire the huge poster advertising a Ronda bullfight. The centerpiece of the garden is a well-kept swimming pool, backed by a dry stone wall and surrounded by a grassy lawn, lined with wooden sun loungers. Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera has about a dozen or so tasteful rooms or suites in all shapes and sizes. Some have open fires and their own terraces and one of the suites even has its own spiral staircase leading up to lofty bedroom with a stylish blue wooden board floor.

Painfully slow
The Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera's buffet breakfast includes decent juices, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereal, bread and boiled eggs. You can order coffees from the staff, but you need to toast your own bread. You can also book in for an overpriced dinner (42 euros for three courses, without wine) in the cosy dining room where the tables are covered with smart white table cloths and funky music is playing on the retro-style wooden stereo. There is a choice of two dishes for each course. Before you get going, you may be offered a  lovely little appetiser made up of creamy cheese and an anchovy wrapped around a morsel of caviar. The starters may include Andalusian soup, which contains soft and scrumptious chick peas in salty chicken stock. The main courses may include a chunky tuna steak, which can be a bit too dry and salty, while the rack of lamb may also be over-seasoned. Still the accompanying creamy mash and green veg is delicious. For desert, the chocolate cake is light and crumbly and is filled with hot oozing chocolate sauce, offset by fine ice cream. To drink, the house A Pasos 2006 red wine from Ronda is rich and velvety. Unfortunately, the portions are often too small and, if you have restless or tired kids, the service can be painfully slow. Still, the friendly and helpful Dutch proprietor seems to have no trouble attracting adult guests and diners to Hotel La Fuente De La Higuera. 8/10