Stay: Casa de Laila in Andalusia, Spain
“I sure hope I’m going the right way…” I had just turned onto an narrow side street that looked more like an alley, but trusted the directions that were emailed to me. The past fourteen hours had been a whirlwind trip from the States to Spain, and I was looking forward to settling into my Andalusian apartment. I pulled into a steep driveway and was buzzed through the entrance gate. After driving through barren neighborhood back roads, I felt like I had stepped into Oz. Gardens overflowing with bougainvillea, cacti and succulents, verdant fruit trees, and bushy palms instantly calmed my weariness.
I parked my car and made my way to the finca where one of Casa de Laila’s owner’s, an Australian named Benjamin, greeted me. He led me to a quaint patio where I met his Dutch partner and co-owner, Anne Marie. After filling out my paperwork Benjamin gave me a tour. He explained how the property started as a fixer-upper that Anne Marie needed for her popular meditation retreats that evolved into a unique glamping and B&B destination for independent travelers. Since I was a female traveling solo and working remotely part-time, I was comforted that I could have a private apartment but still socialize with guests so I wouldn’t feel too lonely. Benjamin and Anne Marie’s warm hospitality and insider advice also proved to be invaluable—I would not have been able to find my way around as easily and enjoyed the experience as much without them. To see more of my stay, check out the video below.
A rustic, boho resort tucked into the Andalusian hillside
An orchard oasis located on the outskirts of the working town, Alhaurin Grande, in the Malaga Province of Spain
Casa de Laila is primarily known for its glamping (luxury camping) facilities. The resort offers six white canvas bell tents with Moroccan accents that sleep up to four people. Tents are scattered around the resort to offer privacy and are equipped with beds, rugs, towels, candles, and outdoor hammocks and seating areas. A shared shower facility is centrally located for guest use, as well as a couple other bathrooms behind the pool and by the patio. Glamping is available from May through early October.
The Laila Suite is a spacious apartment located on the second floor of the finca that sleeps two to four people. Warm wooden accents and handsome decor, with touches like a stereo system, WiFi, and book share make it a comfortable retreat. The apartment has an open living room and dining area that can be warmed by a cozy fireplace in the winter or cooled by air conditioning and fans in the summer. Meals can be prepared in a fully-functional kitchen, complete with a refrigerator, stove top, microwave, dishwasher, toaster and a juicer (that can be used with the oranges grown onsite). The bedroom has a king-sized bed and adjoining bathroom with a shower stall, soaking tub, vanity, and even a bidet. The best part of the apartment is its amazing rooftop terrace, decked out with dining and lounge seating that look out on to the valley. The suite is available year-long, a group of three or four will have extra twin beds placed in the living area.
Though many of Casa de Laila’s guests may rough their overnight stay in a tent, the property is filled with thoughtful amenities that will heighten their stay with a touch of luxury:
- A lagoon style pool and lounge area is the heart of the property and offers tranquil views of the surrounding garden and valley
- An open-air kitchen for guests to cook and an honor bar
- Daily breakfasts served on the patio
- A patio with WiFi and electrical outlets
- Access to wander the fruit orchards (and enjoy its harvests)
- Use of the spectacular semi-open yoga shala with mats, props, stereo, and views
- Free onsite parking
- Towels and bed linens
- Insider tips from Benjamin and Anne Marie who make themselves available mornings through early afternoons for guests
- 90-minute group yoga classes—taught in your choice of English, Spanish, and Dutch—are held in the shala three times a week for an additional, nominal fee
- Massage treatments can be arranged for an additional fee
A breakfast spread of eggs, fresh fruit, wholesome breads, jams, yogurt, cereals, grains, cheese, fruit, juice, tea, and coffee are served daily and included as part of the daily rate. During high season, guests have the option to partake in a scrumptious vegetarian dinner home-cooked by Anne Marie three times a week for an additional charge. The town’s restaurants and markets are a 10-15 minute walk downhill from the resort.
Casa de Laila is a perfect place to escape civilization for a few days. However, it is very accessible to some noteworthy sites. Those wanting to explore the area should rent a car and confirm directions with Benjamin and Anne Marie since GPS-based navigation is often off in the smaller surrounding towns. Below are a few of our favorite nearby highlights:
- Malaga: The sixth largest city in Spain, this port city has a charming old town district, historic architecture and forts, museums, shops, lively nightlife, and restaurants. 30-minute drive
- Aradales Lake District: This national park consists of three turquoise reservoir lakes nestled into the mountainside and are bordered by pine forests, picnic areas, and hiking trails. El Chorro, a gorge popular with rock climbers, is also located here. 45-minute drive
- Ronda: A historic city that’s dramatically perched on El Tajo Canyon with breathtaking views of the Serranía de Ronda mountains and is known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting. 90-minute drive
- Tarifa: This laid-back town is situated on the southernmost tip of Spain–you can even see Morocco on the horizon on a clear day. It’s worth a visit for its Moorish white-washed old town, wind-surfing beaches, and nearby sand dunes. 100-minute drive
- Costa del Sol: This region of Mediterranean shoreline is a popular beach destination for Brits and other Europeans. Though it may have the reputation for being an overbuilt party mecca, there are still many unspoiled spots to soak up the sun – ask Anne Marie and Benjamin for their recommendations. 20-100 minute drive depending on destination
All rates include a daily continental breakfast (rates are accurate as of July 2015 but are subject to change)
- Bell tents: €75.00 – €80.00 per night
- Laila apartment suite: €100.00 – €120.00 per night
- Glampers should bring bug spray and a flashlight. The paths in the resort are well-lit, but it’s still helpful to have some extra lighting in and out of the tents.
- Before your arrival, Anne Marie and Benjamin will email you detailed directions to the resort since the ones on Google Maps are incorrect.
Have you ever been glamping? Share your experience in the section below.
Lara was instilled with the travel bug at an early age and has visited over 25 countries. Her mother’s job as a flight attendant enabled a childhood of exploring the world. In addition to being the founding editor of En Route Traveler, Lara also works as the Art Director for the branding firm, Vessence, in Alexandria, VA. In her spare time, she instructs high-energy Zumba dance classes, contributes as a Local Expert to AFAR, enjoys vegetarian cuisine, dabbles in photography and, of course, travels as much as possible.