A real gem of a hotel!
And you can see that by the reviews – no-one has given it even an average rating. Everyone loves it.
Beautifully sited in a gorge with towering peaks all around, by a little river and just 10 minutes by car from the cable car at Fuente De.
It’s not a Five Star Luxury hotel, so there’s no pillow menu nor minibar in the rooms, which are just a tad cramped – no room for any chairs, for example, just some upholstered stools that slip under the sort of dressing table.
But they have pulled out all the stops to make your stay as comfortable as possible, with good quality bedding, all embroidered with their emblem of a bear, good quality mattress, lovely quilts and curtains, and modernised bathrooms with hairdryer and more than one piece of soap.
There are also plenty of sockets for all your gadgets to be re-charged, but do see WARNING 3 below.
The hotel sort of started in the 60’s, when the parents of the four sisters who currently run it had a small grocers shop across the road, with a bar attached. They expanded into a restaurant, and then ten rooms. In 1980 they opened the purpose-built current hotel, with 33 rooms now all en-suite. The former guest-house, just across the (not busy) road, is now the Annexe with 17 rooms and its own guest lounge. Used only in the summer season and at busy bank-holiday weekends, the annexe is more peaceful than the main hotel, and less than a minute away.
But even on busy weekends, the place is pretty peaceful overall. The road through the village is a dead-end in 6 km, so there’s not an awful lot of traffic. Mostly what you hear is birds and cowbells, plus the gurgle of the little river right under your windows.
The very big PLUS of this hotel is the quality of the staff. Even when rushed off their feet – the restaurant was packed one Saturday evening – they are friendly, smiling, helpful, always wanting to get everything perfect for you.
The restaurant – remember to reserve your table when you book your room at peak times – serves extremely generous portions of good solid food. Our second night, I didn’t order a meal at all – I told the waitress that I would eat off my husband’s plate, and she very happily brought me a plate and cutlery to do that. Even so, between the two of us, we couldn’t eat it all. The first night was embarrassing, there was so much left over. No wonder their dogs are so enormous – they get to eat the leftover meat doubtless! Do NOT order any food ever for children – I reckon that four children and two adults could eat two meals ordered for just the adults.
The food is, basically, good home cooking just like your mother or grandmother cooked. Assuming, of course, that she was Spanish! My husband, whose mother and grandmother were indeed Spanish, adored it all.
The one downside of the hotel is that the wifi is not reliable. Yes, I know, you’re not supposed to need it on holiday, but to be frank, we are all looking at our tablets and phones, especially when abroad as you can use your smartphone on wifi without facing horrendous bills for data charges under roaming. They used to have wifi via the phone company, but that was a very weak signal, so they changed to satellite internet. But satellites in a mountain area, with clouds gathering, is not very reliable either! See TIP 7 below for best wifi.
TIP 1: It’s the first building on the right as you come into the little village, past the traffic-calming traffic lights. Drive 20 yards past it then turn right over a little bridge into the carpark
TIP 2: Don’t arrive at a weekend before 5 – you’ll never get into the carpark which will be packed with locals having lunch. If you do, however, just drive along the rough track past the hotel and park in the meadow overflow carpark
TIP 3: Don’t look around for a hefty lad to carry your suitcase – apart from the Handyman, Chef and part-time barman, all the staff are women
TIP 4: If you can, in high season avoid the Friday night-to- Sunday lunchtime period, when the hotel and restaurant are likely to be packed out
TIP 5: And also avoid January and the first fortnight of February, when it has its annual closure :-)
TIP 6: Best views from rooms 109 to 113, 101 to 108, 201 to 208 and 209 to 213. The second floor rooms have little balconies, the others don’t. The 9-13 rooms are probably the best of all for views.
TIP 7: Each floor of the main hotel has its own sitting room, well equipped with sofas, armchairs and piles of magazines and books in various languages. And these rooms seemed to get better wifi signal too.
TIP 8: Have the mini-breakfast in the bar. You get a hot drink, fresh orange juice, a piece of sponge cake and two slices of toast with butter and jam. After the amount you pigged out on the night before, it’s more than enough.
TIP 9: If the hotel is shown as booked on Booking.com and similar sites, try ringing up – they may have a room or two to spare despite what it says.
TIP 10: Tip 9 only works if you can speak good Spanish . . .
WARNING 1: Although only two hours’ drive from Santander, the road through the gorge is a little nerve-racking. The road is very narrow, very winding. On one side is a sheer cliff up, on the other is a sheer drop down into the river. When a large lorry comes bounding round the corner – do you want to be crushed against the cliff face, or plunge headlong down the gorge? :-)
WARNING 2: Our H&S inspectors might not approve of some of the things in the hotel, so if you are of a nervous disposition, plan ahead to avoid these. There are very few fire alarm push buttons and fire extinguishers – they are *round the corner* of the long corridors, check out their position when you arrive. Also check the exits. This is a hotel with floors, ceilings and furniture all made of wood –many modern concrete hotels wouldn’t be so likely to burst into flame.
WARNING 3: While I was pleased at the number of sockets in the room, I was less pleased with the socket on the bathroom wall 12 inches above the wash-basin and its taps . . .
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.