La Escondida

Rural Spanish Foodie Retreat

La Escondida, The Hideaway, and there could not be a more apt name for this Spanish bolthole tucked away off the beaten track between Alicante and Valencia. Nestled amongst 500 acres of pine forest in the midst of a national park, the hotel rises above the olive groves and almond trees.

The building began life in 1881 as a hunting lodge and has since been renovated by former England football manager Terry Venables and his wife Yvette, who fell in love with Spain during Terry’s days as Manager at Barcelona FC. Yvette has lovingly restored the interiors of the hotel and has succeeded in achieving that brilliant yet rare balance of a contemporary revamp that is still sympathetic to the original character of the building.

Our bedroom is spacious and light, a rustic haven made all the more inviting by the daily notes left on our pillows inviting simple meditations. La Escondida is the perfect place to take a break from it all, they take relaxation so seriously that they offer retreats with renowned energy and wellness therapists and yoga teachers throughout the year.

There are ten suites inside the hotel and two Scandi-style lodges perched just outside on the edge of the gardens. Bespoke handmade furniture with fresh modern prints blends handsomely with the original stonework, oak beams and hand painted tiles.

There’s plenty to keep you occupied at La Escondida, from horse riding, mountain biking or walking around the huge estate to hot air ballooning, shooting and golf, yet we spent a disproportionate amount of time lazing by the outdoor pool. An idyllic oasis fringed by impeccable lawns, the ideal spot to indulge in a late afternoon siesta.

Bespoke handmade furniture with fresh modern prints blends handsomely with the original stonework, oak beams and hand painted tiles.

One thing we hadn’t quite expected from a ‘Hideaway’ tucked away in the Spanish mountains was such exquisite food. The Michelin-star trained chef, who is fiercely proud of his ever-changing menu, prepares mouthwateringly good modern European dishes. Food is seasonal and so locally sourced you can see most of the vegetables and herbs growing outside your bedroom window.

From the hearty ham hock and open ravioli to pan fried scallops with truffle purée and cured salmon with beetroot remoulade, the food is unswervingly excellent. Wines matched by the attentive staff made for flawlessly uncomplicated dining.

Breakfast at La Escondida is also deserving of a mention, a homemade affair, with freshly baked bread and pastries from the kitchen to be layered thick with honey and an assortment of jams produced on the estate. There is no clearer sign that the hotel’s gardens are in rude health than the bottles of olive oil and jars of honey and jam lined up on reception, available to purchase as a memento of your stay.

The age-old problem with any hotel this good is that there comes a time you have to leave. You’ll come to La Escondida for the peace and quiet – but you’ll stay for the food and the magnificent views.

Paul Lennard the renowned ‘energy therapist’ is visiting La Escondida again for 6 days from 2nd-8th November 2015.

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