Life Style

The Long Weekend: La Donaira, a luxury equestrian farm in Andalusia

Located in the sweeping hills high above the town of Ronda, Finca La Donairas vistas look more like Saharan Africa than the south of Spain.

With 250 hectares of farmland sprawled out in every direction, this organic farm and equestrian centre is a retreat from reality. Since 2006 the farmland has been revitalised and regenerated using sustainable techniques and it earns its eco-credentials. La Donaira is home to hundreds of horses, chickens and sheep, not to mention sprawling vegetable gardens, olive trees, a large vineyard and a medicinal herb garden that its head gardener will happily give you a tour of.

The stay: We had the luxury of staying in one of La Donairas new yurts, opened last year to expand the farms occupancy to 26. There are also eight bedrooms in the main farmhouse – all of which are individually designed and feature their own unique quirks and feature pieces. The yurt itself was stunning, located away from the main farmhouse up rickety steps and stone paths, perched with a perfect view of the sun-bathed Andalucian hillsides at both dawn and dusk. An enormous king bed, beautiful sunken stone sinks and a free-standing copper bath make for a stay a little different to your standard getaway.

The food: Fresh produce is king at La Donaira. As part of your stay you get three meals each day. Lunch and dinner are both three courses, too, meaning youll be treated to all sorts of local delights farmed from the surrounding land, and no dish was served twice. The iberico pork was the best weve ever tasted and a late night moussaka was as rich as they come. Breakfast, too, is fantastic – meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and delicious overnight bircher mean youre never short of choice. And the wine! Make sure to sample the organic unfiltered bottles available, which are a La Donaira specialty. The white is particularly special.

Ask about: The bees. Seriously. The farm has several different types of animal living on the land, from a herd of elegant lusitano horses to rare, endangered cattle that number just 500 in the world today. There are also chickens and, if you have children, they can go to collect the eggs each morning. But hidden over in another part of the farm, a 4×4 ride away from the main farmhouse and accommodation, the farmers of La Donaira are cultivating several beehives. The goal is to eventually reintroduce the insects to the local environment to help sustain plant and crop growth. Get your beekeeping suit and gloves on and you can see them up close, sweet honey and all.

And after that? Walking up to the stables toward the top of the farm is a great way to see more of the horses. Failing that, the two pools give you everything you need – from a bracingly chill dip in the freshwater outdoor pool, or something a little less testing with the 21-metre heated indoor pool complete with a wall-length window for views across Grazalema National Park. The farm is large enough that youll rarely run into anybody else, so make full use of the Turkish bath, plunge pool and Russian sauna.

Need to know: La Donaira offers a nightly rate starting from €250 per person per night on a full board basis. Visit ladonaira.com for more information

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