Our reason for visiting Baena, on our way back home from the Cazorla National park, was to visit the Santa Maria olive oil mill, which has been owned by the Nunez de Prado family since 1795, when they first started producing olive oil - so the family does know a thing or two about it!
We were able to wander round the mill, so saw all the presses, as well as the barrels, which we believe are used for their top of the range olive oil, the Nunez de Prado Flor de aceite. If we understood correctly, this oil is produced by allowing the olive paste to free run, seeping from the rotating barrels, in order to produce this very special oil. Interesting to hear that using this process, it takes 10 kilos of the olive paste, to produce 1 litre of Flor de aceite!
Naturally, they have other processes to produce the regular extra virgin olive oil, but, whichever one you choose, you can be confident that you are buying Andalucian olive oil at its best.
This mill is so much worth a visit, but do book in advance. We didn't, so, although we were allowed to go round the mill on our own, we had to rely on the guys at reception to explain to us all that we had seen. The two brothers, who own the mill and who apparently do all the tours themselves, were out of the country.
Back to the hotel! It was chosen because it was the only one that appeared in the Spanish hotel guide that we had brought with us, as well as being very close to the Santa Maria mill, the reason for our visit to Baena.
The guide we consulted was from 2009, so a couple of years old. The price range that was indicated for a double room was €83 to €107, so, when we phoned and were offered a choice of rooms for €50 including tax, a small warning light lit up!
Having retrospectively read some of the other reviews on the hotel, they are spot on. What could be an impressive lobby, with lots of marble and antiques all over the place, is somehow let down by the somber decor and a reception area that does not do the lobby justice. They have got everything there, but it just needs a good interior designer to put it all together.
The lift is adjacent to the reception desk, and this is the first introduction to the general tackiness - the stained and dirty carpet covering the lift floor! We were shown a couple of bedrooms, and chose the one that was best lit, being on the corner and having two large windows. However, the stained and ugly carpeting was again in evidence so we were very pleased to have packed our slippers!
Having said that, the rest of the room was clean, although the somewhat stained easy chair, was one to be avoided! We checked the bed thoroughly - pristine clean sheets, a clean mattress (although unprotected), so we were reasonably contented. The bathroom, incidentally, was very clean as well as being very spacious.
One unusual aspect of the room was that the electric role up window blind obviously suited the local Swift population, as there must have been several nests in the box housing the blind.
Somehow the nests must have been placed in such a way as to avoid being crushed when operating the blinds!
It was the time of the year for the babies to want feeding so they made a heck of a racket. Fortunately they were very good babies when it came to bed time, as we only heard one loud squeak during the night, which did not reoccur until the morning; so maybe mum shut them up, as I'm sure she wasn't going to go hunting for food at night!!
We did not have dinner in the hotel, which was perhaps a mistake, as we ate at the Meson Casa del Monte, in the upper town, described as "a cut above the rest". If this is true then God help the rest!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.