Hotel Castillo de Monda
Hotel Castillo de Monda is a castle dating back to the eighth century, at least some remaining details attest to the ancient history of the building. The hotel sits on top off a mountain in the village of Monda in the province of Malaga, in southern Spain.
The castle has been refurbished several times transforming it into the present building with 27 bedrooms. Tucked into nooks and crannies you find terraces, terracotta floors, antique furniture and a saltwater pool. Guests have sweeping views from every corner of the estate.
A weekend getaway
This castle hotel is an ideal place for a weekend with friends. On our program: wine by the fireplace, good food, sharing joys and sorrows of the past six months and of course a hike in the surrounding mountains. For we are in a nature reserve, national park Sierra de las Nieves.
Luckily, it’s continuously raining during our stay, so we cancel the hike in favour of more wine. If we had planned this visit in a bit more detail, we could also have included a massage and a beauty treatment at the indoor wellness centre.
But you know, wine and fire …
My room is located in one of the two towers of the castle. A real tower by myself, like in a fairy tale. The decor of the room is simple: a carpet, beds, antique wardrobe and a small sitting area. No royal frills, but with modern conveniences like air conditioning, Wi-Fi and running water.
The luxurious details are in the large, fluffy towels and comfortable mattresses. No television. The latter I would not have noticed (because wine) if it were not for the manager expressly pointing this out, as the hotel is moving away from old push info to on-demand television.
Bed & Breakfast
The only thing lacking in my personal fairy tale is a fierce dragon guarding me in my tower and a handsome prince to rescue me out of the dragon’s claws. In the absence of a prince, I exit the room by myself to start the day with a breakfast in the restaurant where a number of page boys and girls of British, Spanish and Dutch descent serve me at my beck and call. Lack of experience is more than compensated for with friendliness.
One can eat three meals a day at the restaurant, starting with a breakfast buffet, including fresh fruit, cereals, croissants, yoghurt and scrambled eggs. For lunch and dinner, food is à la carte, a number of daily specialities and (if requested in advance) vegan meals.
Wines are available in varying qualities and price ranges from affordable to ridiculously expensive. The menu has an international flavour, with a price level that is relatively high for Malaga. Vitello tonnato with a twist costs (starter) costs 11 euros, six oysters 15 euro, duck 23 euros, apple pie 8 and a plate of tapas for two is 27 euros.
Monda, a pueblo blanco
But to arrive at the fairytale castle, one has to put in a considerable effort. Starting with surviving the Monda trap, which is strictly reserved for the most competent drivers. The village of Monda is a pueblo blanco, a white village in Andalusia, amongst many others. These types of villages are in fact solely built with the purpose of trapping tourists in a network of ever closer tapered steep mountain roads.
When entering the village, everything seems quite normal. By the time you realize that the roads are getting narrower as you progress, your chance to escape is gone. The only way out is back through a steep turn upward or forward through a bend once designed with a donkey cart the size of a smart car in mind. The already narrow streets are furthermore blocked by local cars with flashing lights indicating that the owner is having breakfast /sits on the toilet or has more pressing things to do.
Ignore the GPS
To reach the castle, one does not have to take the narrowest streets, but if you, like me against my better judgment, trust the (TomTom or Garmin) navigation system you will inevitably end up there. Google Maps is probably a better choice of navigation. Regardless of what happens, as the icing on the cake, there will always be that concrete path with hairpin bends to finally reach the castle.
Activities near Monda
- From Monda, you reach the coast in half an hour. Both Marbella and Puerto Banus are both excellent locations to spot Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and Jaguars in their natural habitat. The Porsche Cayenne has the status of a house sparrow in this part of the world, to see Ferraris you probably need to enrol in a night safari and a Rolls-Royce appears to be an endangered species.
- If you’re more into domesticated cars, visit the Askari racetrack in Ronda (an hour’s drive from Monda).
- For hikers, there is the spectacular Caminito del Rey, or if you prefer to stay nearby, this circular hike in the Sierra de las Nieves will take you four hours.
- Visit Restaurant Cascada Cocina & Bar in Marbella, same owners, completely different set-up.
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