As a result of several life events happening at the same time, I bought a very dilapidated rambling twelve roomed townhouse in Velez de Benaudalla, a small town a few miles inland of the Costa Tropical. The estate agents described the house as a TARDIS – bigger on the inside – which it achieves by having a narrow road frontage but spreading a good way back, with most windows overlooking the atrium and terrace. For a while I ruefully called it my Elefante Blanco (not that I could, or for that matter can, speak fluent Spanish) but over the months of refurbishment, as more of its eccentricities appeared, it became the Casa Excéntrico.
The house is long and thin and the twelve rooms consist of, downstairs, five that run into each other with two doors to the atrium. There is also a tiny bolt-on loo and shower in the terrace, and a smokehouse, away from all the others, where hams were smoked a hundred years or more ago. Upstairs at the back, with its own little staircase and patio, is a large room currently doing sterling service as a storeroom. There is another staircase from the atrium which leads to a front bedroom overlooking the narrow road, and three rooms leading only into each other. There is a spacious and attractive solarium above the front bedroom, but I only know this because I’ve seen it from the house across the road – there is currently no way of reaching it from inside the house! (You’re getting the name now, right?)
The spontaneous dream, when I saw it for the first time, was to create a kind of writers guesthouse, turning several of the rooms into places writers could use as a base for exploring one of the most inspiring areas of Spain. Call me biased, sure – but you have the Costa Tropical, the Lecrin Valley (which already sparked the Driving Over Lemons series), the heritage city of Granada, the evocative Alhambra Palace, and soaring backdrop to all, dramatically snow-capped for half the year, the Sierra Nevada. Or just daily life in a small but bustling Spanish town which isn’t really set up for tourists but is very patient with those that pop by … location, tick. Plenty of rooms, tick.
I took over the five rooms downstairs for myself and there are some querulous blogs on the Home page about run-ins with Spanish builders and Spanish bureaucracy, but guests have been trickling into the G-suite since June 2018. Writers, translators, teachers, (and a few tourists who don’t need the writing desks carefully sited in each room) have stayed for a few days or a few weeks and it is all rather fun and very basic but very cheap. It will always be cheap. I don’t want to make my living running a high-end guesthouse, with all the complications that brings: the guest rooms cover their own expenses and maintenance, contribute a little to the ongoing refurbishment, and provide occasional congenial visitors who don’t expect air-conditioning and room service. Future projects include re-tiling throughout but for now vivid fake grass conceals the patchwork tiling left in the atrium by new pipes being laid for one tiny shower to become three showers and a full bathroom. The smokehouse has become a laundry, and the guest rooms can be taken as a two-bedroom suite with living room, or let separately to share the living room if they overlap.
There are tons of photos on Airbnb and HomeAway but in brief, the front room (the Oliver) has a double bed, desk, and shower / loo en suite – photos below.
The back room (the Cameron) has twin beds, shower / loo en suite, and a little room of its own with desk and a daybed.
The living room has fridge, sink and a pantry cupboard with basics supplied – tea, coffee, milk, biscuits, etc., – and the usual kettle, toaster, so on. If guests overlap, it’s shared with the other guest room. The entire G suite is only for guests and completely separate to my part of the house – access is through the atrium, and guests get front door keys along with the key to their room.
The atrium, terrace and upstairs patio (not pictured here) are general areas open to all. As I said, basic and all the guests so far, couples or solo travellers, have been out and about most of the time but embraced the eccentricities and enjoyed themselves, phew.
Fellow members of ALLi can claim a discount, as can writer friends on Facebook, but the deal is then that you must contribute one of your own (autographed) books for the bookshelves. There’s wifi, of course, and thanks to the foot-thick walls it’s generally quiet considering it is in the heart of a Spanish town.
Contact me direct, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or check it out on Airbnb or HomeAway: I prefer HomeAway, as they pay direct into my Spanish bank account rather than Paypal, but there have been more guests, and therefore more reviews, on Airbnb.
The adventure begins here …