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“Great place to stay in Andalucia”
Review of Al Lago

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Al Lago
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed April 20, 2012

Al Lago was wonderful in every way. Lovely location. Lovely room overlooking the reservoir. Very accommodating and concerned staff, wanting guests to have a positive experience in every way. The dinners prepared by Stefan were delicious. This was a great place to return to after a day of walking.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Sasfish1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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90 - 96 of 163 reviews

Reviewed April 1, 2012

So if you are deliberating which Pueblo Blanco to stay overnight in, you HAVE to choose Zahara and you HAVE to stay at Al Lago, a treasure of a small inn run by the delightful Mona and her chef partner Stefan. The setting is just beautiful over an overlook of the reservoir and sits at the foot of Zahara, which is a sleepy little village that time forgot. We stayed here on our way to Sevilla for two nights and as a base to explore Ronda, 30 minutes away. The town is pristine with ordinary villagers going about their business. No in your face tourism.
We had a very nice size room which was beautifully decorated and had a Juliet balcony looking out towards the reservoir. Very large bathroom and large firm king size bed with the best pillows. (The telly also had BBC if you want a little English television). We also appreciated the bottled water left for us each day.

The staff help could not be more accomodating, comprised of some lovely women who live in the village. Some of the loveliest staff we have ever encountered! Truly!

To celebrate our anniversary, we had one of the best meals we ever experienced in Stefan's tasting menu with various modern takes on Andalusian favorites and we learned alot about local wines and aperitifs with the wine pairing. We are still talking about the food. We also had a delightful lunch in the bar upon our arrival and a second dinner in the dining room on our second night. Stefan would come out at each meal to check in with us. He even shared one of his recipes with us to take home! Great guy!

We also appreciate that Mona made arrangements to have our laundry done by the staff and sent it to our room. We also couldn't believe she took the time to call our hotel in Granada where we left our electrical adapter and arranged to have it shipped to our hotel in Seville where it was waiting for us on arrival. (She also bought one for us at the Malaga airport where she running an errand the next day). Seriously, where do you find people who do this sort of thing?

(Also make sure you have the chance to visit the Olive Oil mill just down the road that has been operating since the 1700s. The mill's owner was having lunch at Al Lago when we arrived and we met him at the mill later to buy some great olive oil gifts as well as some delicious port wine made on the estate. Great prices too!).

But most of all, we really just enjoyed this delightful package that was wrapped up in Andalusian casualness. (Seriously, if you're looking for a 5 star Four Seasons type of place, why are you even in Andalusian?). Stefan and Mona make you feel like you are in someone's home. Take a deep breath, relax and just go with it. And then hope you have the chance to return again some day.

Room Tip: I believe all rooms face the lake so you can't go wrong!
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  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank haydenny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2012

Hotel Al Lago is a modern, family-run hotel (restaurant-with-rooms) in Zahara de la Sierria, on the edge of the Grazalema National Park, in the Cadiz region of Andalucia. We stopped off for 2 nights in late March 2011, after spending most of our week-long holiday in nearby Ronda. We loved the more relaxed atmosphere at Al Lago, compared with the rather stuffy accomodation we'd had in Ronda. Mona, Stefan and their staff gave us exactly as much attention as we required - they were very responsive and friendly, yet gave us space if we wanted it. We enjoyed our stay so much that we booked a 9-day break over New Year and the Three Kings Festival (January 2012).

The hotel has 4 en-suite bedrooms, all with a view towards the Embalse de Zahara-El Gastor, a beautiful man-made lake (reservoir). We've stayed in Room 2 and Room 4. The decor in both was light and modern, the en suites were well-appointed and everything was spotless. We did encounter a temperamental wardrobe door, but this was minor. We found it cold in the evenings in January, despite the heating system - that was our own fault for being less than well-prepared for the drop in temperature later in the day (thanks to Mona for lending me a heavy jumper!). Other facilities include a small lounge area (one sofa, one [?] armchair) within the dining room.

Stefan does most of the cooking and his food is great - he was a chef in New York for many years before moving to Spain. You can have a meal in the dining room, take tapas in the bar, or eat out at the terrace restaurant, with its view of the lake. We have eaten everything from pulpo (octopus), to wild boar, to spinach and avocado salad, to paella. Wines and coffee were always good. Breakfast is a cold buffet, which might disappoint some, but suited us perfectly: cereals, yogurt, fruit salad, bread (home made), ham, cheese, pate, salsa and olive oil.

There is internet access. Stefan is American and Mona is English, which helps English-speaking visitors, although we had fun trying to improve our Spanish vocabulary and - more to the point - pronunciation. Another asset came in the shape of Mona and Stefan's children, who entertained us with a flamenco routine on the evening of the 3 Kings' festival!

Zahara de la Sierra is a great base for walking and Mona will happily suggest walks and apply for permits on your behalf, given sufficient notice. On our first visit, she arranged for a local guide to take us on the famous El Pinsapar walk. At New Year, we did many walks, including the Garguanta Verde, the Walk of the Griffon Vultures, and Mr Henderson's Railway Walk. If you have good nerves (!), you can drive the winding mountain roads to visit 'pueblos blancos' (villages) such as Grazalema and Benaojan. Or you can venture further afield to Granada, Seville or Cadiz.

We loved Al Lago and the surrounding area, and would recommend them to others. Hope to return before long!

Room Tip: We have stayed in 2 of the 4 rooms. It's difficult to know if we're comparing like with like...
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  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank GlasgowWanderer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2012

We enjoyed our 5 night stay very much! The staff was more than friendly and helpfull.
The first day we ordered the tasting menu which was delicious and carefully prepared by the owner Stefan.
The rooms were classy decorated by his wife, Mona
We would certainly book here again when we visit this lovely region!

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank tatienne s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 8, 2012

After first discovering Al Lago a few years ago (before the hotel was opened) we find ourselves returning several times a year. Sometimes wth the family, sometimes with friends and lately to celebrate my birthday. Mona and Stefan and their staff have never disappointed us. Not only are then open and friendly doing all they can to make you feel welcome, but the food and wines are superb, the rooms wonderful and the view over the lake simply wonderful. They know what it means to have a lie in and provide an excellent very late breakfast. We have been living on the Coast for 14 years and make sure to recommend Al Lago to all the people we come into contact with, knowing that they won't be disappointed. A perfect location for a holiday to explore the area, visit an olive oil press, a cheese dairy or just to get away for a night. Al Lago is a MUST if you live or visit Andalucia.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Patricia U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 20, 2012

We enjoyed several nights at Mona and Stefan's hotel/restaurant. These folks are working hard at creating their dream and providing a comfortable stay for travelers. Our room was simple yet tastefully decorated, with a large comfortable bed. The breakfast buffet was most satisfying with fruits,cereals and more. Stefan prepares wonderful dinners using the best of local ingredients and his culinary experience. Mona's knowledge of Andalucia was very helpful for planning the next part of our trip. Their staff is as gracious,friendly and helpful as you will find anywhere .

  • Stayed: February 2012
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Thank JayandPeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2012

My Wife and decided to do something a little different this Christmas. As we have stayed before at Al Lago, they send us a newsletter with upcoming events. When one came through to say they was doing a Christmas special we decided that this is what we would do.
From the moment we arrived we was warmly greeted by the lady on reception. She showed us to our room, where there was two Santa's sacks on the bed full of goodies and a little bone chew for our dog. Within 5 minutes of being in the room the receptionist and a waitress came in with a bottle of Champagne and warm mince pies. What a wonderful start to our break!!!
The room was warm, and very tastefully decorated. The views over the lake are wonderful, and the weather was amazing for this time of year.
Our evening meal was a selection of authentic Indonesian dishes. Wonderfully cooked and presented in the cosy dining room.
the following day we had a Christmas lunch of confit of goose with all the trimmings. It was really something special. After lunch we were treated to a couple of Christmas carols sang by the owners lovely children.
All in all a wonderful Christmas. Mona and Stefan could not do enough for us and even managed to get a local mechanic out to open my car door after looking in the key. It was quite an attraction to local villagers, and in the end there was about a dozen guys stood around the car shouting advice and encouragement to him. When he finally clicked the lock with a piece of wire, a huge cheer went up!!! I was a happy man after the perfect short break!! Thank you all X

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank boaz1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Al Lago

Address: Calle Felix Rodriguez de La Fuente 11, 11688 Zahara de la Sierra, Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, Spain
Location: Spain > Andalucia > Province of Cadiz > Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park > Zahara de la Sierra
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Zahara de la Sierra
Price Range: $81 - $131 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Al Lago 3*
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A small family run hotel with spectacular views of Zahara´s lake. We have a well known restaurant open for lunch and dinner, serving local produce (some from our farm). The cuisine is rustic with innovative touches featuring local specialities such as wild boar, pork cheeks, paellas and in summer a wide array of fish. We also have vegetarian and vegan options, daily specials, home made desserts and an extensive wine cellar featuring many local bodegas.In addition Al lago has as a bar serving drinks, tapas and baked goods all day long. Breakfast is a buffet of fresh fruit salads, cereals, yoghurts, fresh juice, cold cuts and patés, boiled eggs, Andalucian tomato puree, breads and hot beverages.All our spacious, thoughtfully decorated en-suite double bedrooms have their own balcony with wrought iron doors, large beds, flat-screen satellite TV, built in wardrobes and rain showers. There is wifi in public areas and guests can use the hotel computer if need be. Al Lago has free on road parking and access is by recently asphalted road. We are surrounded by fabulous walking country with the Garganta Verde and many other hikes on our doorstep. Located on the edge of a typical white village/pueblo blanco into which you can wander and enjoy local bars and shops. A paradise for walkers, birders, cyclists, foodies, botanists, painters and horse riding enthusiasts. The architectural wonder of Ronda is half an hour away and other lovely white villages close by. Roman ruins, oilve oil mills and wine bodegas can be visited in the area also. For swimming the playita (spring fed mini lake) and local pool are open from mid June until Mid September. ... more   less 
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