Casa Ana review | holistic hideaway, Spain
Boutique B&B with writing, walking & life coaching
The Quick Read: Casa Ana is a gorgeous, low-key guesthouse in the fantastically secluded village of Ferreirola where various life coaching, cooking, creative writing and walking holidays take place here throughout the year, or you can come for year-round B&B to relax, eat healthily, go hiking locally and book treatments with an excellent local therapist. Set in the last white-washed village on a long and winding road through the Alpujarra mountains in Andalucia, it’s a classic retreat spot run by a personable English woman Anne Hunt, who has lived here for years. Casa Ana is available to hire as a venue.
More on Ferreirola: The village of Ferreirola is a classic retreat spot: you can expect gorgeous, narrow stoned streets with white-washed houses, pots of colourful geraniums and that rarified air you get from being in the mountains. Only 27 people live here year-round, and there’s a quiet, lazy pace to life.
More on Casa Ana: The feeling of groundedness you get in the quiet village continues as you walk through the small door to Casa Ana, which has just 10 rooms and is set around a pretty, flower-filled courtyard with a tier of various terraces on which you can sit and admire the inspiring, unspoilt view across the Alpujarra mountains.
The property is a 400-year-old house that was once an important family home with a wine press, olive oil store, barn and stables. It retains original features including the chestnut beamed ceilings, quirky chimneys typical of the region and Moorish-style flat roofs. Guests have shared access to a spacious, light sitting room with an open fire, armchairs and a small kitchen with a fridge and kettle so you can make your own hot drinks. There’s underfloor heating, so it’s toasty in the winter months too.
More on the bedrooms: The 10 bedrooms are all chicly simple and comfortable, with white washed walls, simple dark wood furniture, chestnut wood-beamed ceilings and hand-made terracotta tiles and white rugs on the floors. Locally hand-blended, natural soap is available in the bathrooms too. Each has a view, of the valley or the courtyard garden. The best is a large double room, with French doors leading directly onto the garden and stunning views of the mountains beyond. It is spacious and comfortably furnished with a big bed, armchair and small writing desk. The bathroom is a wet room, with marble-white stucco walls, rain shower and big mirror. It is decorated with handmade tiles in patterns inspired by the Moorish designs of the Alhambra palace.
More on the wellbeing activities: Come alone or with a companion to rest, relax, create and walk. From the B&B you can walk out on rocky, Moorish tracks through the mountains and enjoy plenty of flowers, fig orchards and mulberry trees. Natural springs pepper the tracks where you can fill your water bottles. In-room massage is available with a decent local therapist. Unless you want to stay put, you’ll need a hire car. Casa Ana also hosts various cooking, coaching, creative writing holidays, writers retreats and walking holidays run by different leaders throughout the year.
Just a couple of minutes from the house are small meadows terracing the hillsides, and an era – a magical medieval threshing circle – ideal places to sit for quiet meditation and calm thinking, drawing or painting, or doing nothing at all. For more energetic days there are walks from the house – some take you along the Trevelez river valley, others up and over the ridge from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada’s snow-capped peaks. Owner Anne has written hiking notes of her favourite walks which guests are welcome to use.
More on the life coaching retreats: Casa Ana is the ideal base for private 3 night, 2 day life coaching retreats with mentor and coach Jessica McGregor Johnson, which are available for most of the year – see our full review or read a word from the queen on a private a coaching retreat at Casa Ana. Casa Ana is also the base for occasional life coaching holidays with The Big Stretch.
More on the creative writing retreats: Writers’ Retreats are held 3 times a year – for up to two weeks at a time, writers can stay at Casa Ana and work on a project of their choosing, away from the distractions of home life. It’s an ideal opportunity for working on a publishing deadline, starting a new novel, or recovering from writer’s block. A professional mentor is on hand for one-to-one coaching and there are optional group reading/critiquing sessions. Other Creative Writing events are regularly held at Casa Ana – it’s the Spanish home of the Creative Detox, and The Literacy Consultancy’s creative writing holidays. Literary Adventures also use the venue each year, bringing writers including Margaret Drabble, Chris Stewart, Nell Dunn, Jacob Ross, Rebecca Abrams and Michael Jacobs.
More on hiring Casa Ana as a venue: Casa Ana is available to hire for residential retreats and courses – it provides comfortable accommodation for up to 16 people, delicious meals and indoor and outdoor spaces for group activities. Owner Anne and her team are on hand to help with logistics.
More on the food and drink: Meals are eaten in a simple, attractive, dark wooden-floored dining room which has a little terrace looking over the mountains, and use vegetables and fruits from Anne’s garden and local farmers as well as fresh fish from the Mediterranean.
Breakfast starts with a glass of amazing-tasting fresh juice made from the local oranges (the kind that makes you wonder just where they get the tasteless oranges from that we eat in the UK). Then there’s fresh seasonal fruits such as melon or berries, a choice of cereal and various teas and coffees. You can ask for eggs however you like them. Simple lunches are also sometimes available if you ask in advance – imagine a tasty lunch of tortilla or soup with salad followed by a brownie graced with raspberries.
Amazingly tasty dinners are usually available if there are at least four other people dining. Cooked by Wes, a Canadian who lives locally, these meals were divine on our visit – a perfectly cooked feast of goat cheese fitters with spinach and apple salad, coq-au-vin with parsnip cream and a desert of pears with cardamom and almonds. If you want to eat out, there’s a local, low-key bar for pizzas and light fare, or Anne can guide you as to what restaurant to book in one of the neighbouring villages.
What’s lowly: Unless you’re on a group retreat, you can only get dinner when there at least four or five guests.
Costs: A single room costs €50 and a double or twin room costs €82 per night, B&B. There is a minimum stay of two nights. There’s 10% off if you stay a week or more.
Getting there: Fly to Malaga airport, from where it’s a two hour drive – transfers can be arranged, and there’s the option of a taxi-sharing scheme, with prices ranging from €30 pp (for a ride of four people) to €105 pp (if there’s just you alone) though it’s best to hire a car.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats