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“Not boutique, more like very average” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Al Lago

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Al Lago
Certificate of Excellence
Bridgehouse
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Not boutique, more like very average”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 25, 2013

We booked Al Lago as a central part of a special holiday to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and because it advertised itself as a boutique hotel with tasting menu.

On arrival we were met at reception by a friendly member of staff and an anniversary card, but for the 4 days we stayed, that was the extent of the hospitality apart from ola at breakfast. We passed by reception on numerous occasions when the owner was there and got no recognition what so ever.

The description of boutique is stretched as whilst the room was pleasant it was not special. The rooms were also very noisy from the extractor fans in the adjacent rooms, which was not idea when the neighbour was showering at 11pm.In essence the accommodation was 4 rooms off a corridor. It was also let down by the outdoor space for relaxing which was a small terrace with only 1 sunbed.

We reserved a table for the tasting menu but were told it would be better to book on a night the chef was in the kitchen. By then having found the excellent eating places in the main village square at a quarter of the price we decided not to frequent the hotel restaurant.

Unfortunately while we were there we witnessed a fellow guest who found insects/weavils in the cereal at breakfast, we felt she was very gracious considering the situation.

Whilst we heard good reports about the restaurant which we cannot confirm, we felt this was more a restaurant with rooms, rather than a boutique hotel.

The hotels description of Zahara however is very accurate, a beautiful typical Pueblo, which we found delightful and would definitely revisit.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DandSAdams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MonaAC, Owner at Al Lago, responded to this review, January 13, 2014
We are sorry you were not happy with your stay. As it was your anniversary we put a hand made greeting card in your room along with flowers (which is a touch I don't think we have ever received when staying in hotels on our anniversary.)

My husband had just undergone a surgery shortly before your arrival and he especially came in to prepare your chef's tasting menu, which you had booked, however you never showed up.
No explanation was made as to why you did not cancel the reservation, you simply breezed in and out without a word. I am not sure what more you expected of us in such a situation?

We are known for our restaurant but you never chose to experience it. There are certainly several inexpensive eateries in the village where food is served up from freezer into fryer, but we can not really compete with their prices for obvious reasons. All our food is sourced and bought locally, supporting the rural economy. We use high quality produce and even grow some of our vegetables and lettuces and fruit. Even the oil we serve is our own organic olive oil.

As to breakfast I was astonished when I read your remark and called both couples who stayed at the same time to ask if they had enjoyed their stay or had experienced anything wrong, both said they had a great time and no complaint was made about cereals, perhaps the fact that they were Spanish and therefore speaking in Spanish may mean you simply misunderstood?
We are very particular about food storage and freshness so I can only conclude this was a rather malicious attempt to finish off a somewhat negative review.

As to the extractor fans they have now been replaced as a one of them had gotten a little noisier of late so we have had them all replaced by new models which are quiet. Thanks for pointing that to our attention. Usually I do ask guests to give us a second chance if there was something not up to expectation but in this case I doubt that you would enjoy Al Lago, we are clearly not your sort of place.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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145 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (21)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Benahavis, Spain
Level Contributor
22 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 14, 2013

Me and my partner stayed at this hotel in November last year and were so impressed that we are now booking our second trip! Our arrival at the hotel was very warm and welcoming, i believe we were greeted by the owner, who was very helpful in getting us settled in and suggesting local bodegas and excursions.
The room we stayed in was very tastefully decorated, with views onto the lake. In the bathroom we noticed the soaps and other toiletries are all local produce, which we felt was a nice touch. The bed was also super comfortable.... I had a very good nights sleep.
Both nights we dinned in the hotel and both nights we were impressed. I had the wild boar, which was cooked perfectly and the waitress recommended a lovely local red wine. The only thing which people may find disappointing is the breakfast, as it is not a cooked breakfast. However it is stated that the breakfast is a continental breakfast, which I believe some of which is local produce. We are not big breakfast eaters ourselves so this did not bother us.
We booked through the hotel to go visit a local bodega (F. Schatts), which the owner recommend and was very helpful in giving us directions. The trip to the bodega was a very pleasant experience and the owner very friendly. He explained in great detail about the organic nature of his wine. After our tour we went inside to sample some of his wines and I was very disappointed to find out the rose I liked he had sold out! We did however buy a bottle of the red which we liked also. Overall a very pleasant experience.
We were told before that all trips had to be planned at least 24 hours before, however, very last minute we decided that we would like to go hacking. We asked the owner if it was possible to book this despite being so late booking and she did her best to see if we could go on the excursion. She came up to our room about 40 minutes later saying that she was able to book it for us.
When we went to set off for the excursion, the woman explained that it was very difficult to find the meeting point where Santiago would wait for us. The woman then explained that she lived near the area of the meeting point and would show us the way there before her shift officially starts. She was very helpful and friendly, we really appreciated her going out of her way to help us. The actual hack itself was very insightful as Santiago explained about the lake and the olive farms, etc.
Really impressed and I cant wait till our next stay!!!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Laura S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2013

My partner and I stayed at al lago for a long weekend last year. As we are looking to book our second trip I decided to comment on their hotel. The hotel decoration is comfortable and tasteful. Also the bed had to be the best we have ever slept in. The food and wine in the restraunt was all great and they had lots of local produce on the menu.The breakfast was small and continental but the chocolate croissants and fresh bread were delicious. All the staff were very friendly, one of the girls drove us to one of the near towns herself so we could go horsriding. And they also arranged a visit to the schatts bodega which was well worth it. Overall if you are looking for a small hotel with great food and service with their own personal touch I would recomend al lago.
We look forward to returning!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Johnson444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Canada
Level Contributor
187 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 74 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2013

We spent 2 nights at Al Lago and dined in the restaurant for both nights. Firstly- this is not a 5* resort nor does Al Lago claim to be the height of luxury. Having said that, Al Lago is a 4 bedroom inn. The room we were in was tastfully decorated with what really looked like a queen size bed (difficult to find in Europe), was comfortable and had nice pillows (not the usual flat style). The bathroom was an interesting design, appeared to be made with materials found in the area. My comment for future renos is that the partition between the shower and main bathroom could be longer and the decline towards the drain a bit more sloped since when we showered, much of the water sprayed close to the toilet and made it a bit slippery (yes we put down the mat to use near the toilet). All the bedroom windows face the lake and the outdoor deck of the restaurant. Should it be high season with hot nights, the noise of the diners may disturb slumber. In our case, the nights were a bit chilly and not many diners remained outdoors part 10pm so it was quiet.

Mona is a delight and goes out of her way to answer questions, provide advice, say hello even when she and her friends are trying to have a private meal. Thanks Mona- we enjoyed meeting you!

As previous reviewers have commented, the staff has limited english but are very friendly and helpful once they understand the request.

Another comment - the out door area on the roof has potential. It's not the most inviting of areas but a few plants to brighten up and soften the area, outdoor durable furniture with cushions would go a long way to making it comfortable should guests wish to sit outside. I would also make it a smoke free area.

The restaurant. We found it to be good, large portions (except 1 night my husband had the special roast suckling pig and found the portion small- he has a big appetite), loved the offerings of vegetables as appetizers and as part of the meal. As Mona stated in one of her comments- the food is good, honest, home cooking. Loved the goat cheese on bed of mixed greens appetizer- that was a meal in itself. Nice choice of local wines on the menu- thank you for offering wines by the glass so we could sample the different wines from Ronda etc.

Room Tip: all 4 rooms face the road way/terrace restaurant. We didn't hear any noise from our neighbors- j...
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank CSummer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 17, 2013

We ate at this restaurant twice on a holiday in this area. The first was on a recommendation from our villas 'info book'. We had a tapas to start and shared a paella . Both were delicious...despite the wasps which also seemed to enjoy it!. We moved inside and were helped by the very friendly staff. Our second night was at a Mexican themed night. (Thanks to Mona, (the owner) for her text to let us know about this) The welcome was very warm and all the staff enthusiastically embracing the theme....Mexican hats galore!!. This restaurant has a lovely view, very friendly staff and good local food. (including a childrens menu)

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank A C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Pedro de Alcantara, Spain
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 12, 2013

We have stayed her many times and have never been disappointed. If you want to relax and get away from it all in comfort, with great food and wine and amazing scenery then this is for you.

If you want some action there is plenty to do like kayaking, horse and bike riding etc. and lots of other places to visit so suits all.

A perfect short break. Mona & Stefan just get better

Room Tip: Ask for the superior, only a fraction more and worth it
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Ellie R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Switzerland
Level Contributor
240 reviews
101 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 186 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 1, 2013

Positive: room very nice, nice terrace, nice views
Negative: breakfast very poor, dinner average at best (chef was away ….), value for money
Comment: I feel more attention needs to go to the restaurant side - a shame, since the hotel itself is so well done.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank cranny
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
MonaAC, Owner at Al Lago, responded to this review, July 16, 2013
Dear customer, we are sorry you were disappointed by your restaurant experience, although happy you found the hotel to be enjoyable.
We wish you could have let us know what was wrong with the meal as we strive to always improve our standards at all times. Perhaps the absence of the chef was part of that? He was not away (we close twice annually so we can go away), he was just resting after a gruelling 7 day schedule which happens during the season.
Our staff are excellent and have been trained for 8 years under his guidance, once again I wish I knew what exactly was wrong as daily I am told how refreshing it is to be in a Spanish restaurant that actually serves vegetables with dishes and has such a variety of choice.

I personally shop for Al lago daily and spend hours at the fruit markets and local organic vendors in the area choosing our produce,, we make everything from scratch, our sauces and puddings and we butcher the meat and fish ourselves so that we offer a good cut.

We are still very busy even during the crisis so coasting on our reputation is not something we can afford to do, we take our reputation very seriously but one thing I have learned after many years is there is always someone expecting more from the experience than tasty honest food prepared fresh. That is what we do at Al lago.
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Additional Information about Al Lago

Property: 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 2 B&Bs / Inns in Zahara de la Sierra
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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