Andalucía occupies a particularly special place, on an invisible and ever fluctuating religious border between Christianity and Islam, and this cultural verge has its own look and feel. And of course then there's also the spectacularly beautiful landscape! The best places to stay in Andalucía are just as varied as the scenery, from citrus scented hilltop hideaways to city pads ringing with flamenco rhythms.
Andalucía's coastline has a lot more to offer than just the glitz and sunshine of the Costa del Sol. At the western end of the coast, Costa de la Luz has huge sweeps of Atlantic sands and the immense wetlands of the Doñana National Park. And to the east, the Mediterranean Costa Tropical and Costa Almería have unspoilt fishing villages tucked between lovely bays and mountains.
The eight provinces of Málaga, Granada, Almería, Córdoba, Jaén, Huelva, Sevilla and Cádiz are all well worth visiting if you can drag yourself inland. Andalucía’s cities are grand, noble and usually ancient, each with a glorious architectural legacy. Seville and Granada are the queens, but less-known cities such as Córdoba, Almería and Málaga each have a rich mix of castles, palaces, churches, squares and many of the best places to stay in Andalucia.
Andalucía's interior is varied, from the fabulous wooded hills and craggy peaks of the North - heaven for hikers or riders - to the Sierra Nevada, the tallest mountain range in Western Europe outside the Alps and the Tabernas where spaghetti westerns were filmed.
The fascinating architecture of the region has been influenced by the best of both Muslim and Christian design, and you'll find vast mosques which are used as churches, and vast Arabian looking palaces with beautiful Renaissance interiors. Andalucía's cities are full of surprises.
The region's famous white, hilltop towns have plenty to offer as well when it comes to history, art and architecture. Many times the conquered and many times the conqueror, these outposts borrow from both traditions. And from them the region has spawned its own cuisine and music, and some of the world's most unique festivals!
There is a fiesta somewhere every month of the year in Andalucía, some celebrated across the entire region, others more local. Many are religious festivals but all have a celebratory element. The best places to stay in Andalucía can become booked up well in advance of the fiestas so forward planning is essential.
Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville, Andalucía
Renovated 16th-century mill. Simple hotel in rural setting, surrounded by olive groves. White-washed walls, tiled floors, wooden beams, with a pool and extensive gardens. Plenty of local activities, from hiking to birdwatching.
A secluded hotel with celestial views of the valley and gourmet food. This tranquil atmosphere, only ever disturbed by birdsong in the heart of a National Park, is perfect for local exploring and peaceful relaxation.
A good Four Star option in central Almeria. An attractive townhouse with contemporary rooms, outdoor pool, gastro-bar, and meeting facilities. A stylish spot, family friendly too.
Arcos de la Frontera, Andalucía
Delightful and majestic 18th century mansion in dramatic setting overlooking the valley in historic hilltop village. Simple but spacious rooms, great value, full of character, with lots of local colour.
Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Andalucía
Small charming hotel with a strong Moorish influence, with authentic decoration and food. Vaulted dining room sunlit garden. Pretty light rooms, a great base for exploring the medieval old town.
Peaceful antique-filled hotel in the historic old town. Spacious, simply furnished rooms, hand-painted tiled bathrooms. Patio with swimming pool, spa, saloons. A great base for local exploring.
A gorgeous old mill renovation surrounded by magnificent gardens and olive groves on the edge of the Sierra Nevada. Rustic chic room and family suites have fireplaces, brightly painted walls, wooden beams and stone floors. Fabulous local restaurant, pool, and masses to do in the park. Fantastic.
Beautifully rustic guesthouse on a hilltop with rooms and self-catering cottages. White washed walls, stone floors, wooden beams, fireplaces and stunning views from terraces. Plenty of outdoor sports all year round, excellent value, and very family friendly.
A uniquely laid back hotel surrounded by historic buildings in Ronda. Bohemian vibes and contemporary decoration. A home rather than a hotel with its help-yourself philosophy. Great for families and local exploring.
A typically Andalucian farmhouse with stunning mountain views. A cluster of white washed cottages have rustic rooms with stone floors and private terraces. Lovely pool and breakfast patio. Walking distance to excellent restaurants and lots to do in the Sierra Nevada. Family friendly, very peaceful.
Laidback, colonial style house hotel with bright decoration, Mexican style. Delightful, planted garden courtyard, hammocks, full of artwork. Eclectic, individual bedrooms.
Elegant restored palace hideaway in a charming hilltop town just outside Seville, full of character. Great value, with a small pool.
Stunning views, intimate interiors, and a calm ambience just below Ronda old town. Vibrant decor and rustic character, with small library, lovely garden, and pool.
Beautifully restored 15th-century house in prime location a short walk from the Alhambra. Galleried inner courtyard, marble pool, traditional rooms, some with views.
Charming family-run guesthouse with views in picturesque setting, a short walk to Granada city centre. Bright, pretty, simply furnished rooms overlook inner courtyard.
Montefrio, Granada, Andalucía
Relaxing retreat up in the hills. Surrounded by olive groves and almond trees. Rustic rooms with panoramic views. Silk rugs, tapestries, kitchen garden, gardens, swimming pool, authentic Arabic baths.
Ecija, Sevilla, Andalucía
18th century palace, with simple, traditional rooms and suites filled with paintings and antiques. Courtyard, gardens, and swimming pool. An oasis, and a good location for sights.
Fabulous little hilltop village hotel with an excellent local restaurant. Charming rooms, two sleep four, have stone floors, wooden beams, private balconies and attractive furnishings. Wonderful valley views. A real steal and very accommodating for families.
Characterful 18th-century family home hotel in the heart of old Ronda. Traditionally decorated rooms, classic Spanish style, full of art and antiques. Small private cinema adds sparkle.
Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucía
A sunny spot in central Jerez. Classical creamy rooms and suites with lots of natural light. Lovely pool and garden, restaurant, and meeting rooms. A stylish luxury spot for any visitor to the city.
A lovely white farmhouse surrounded by sunflower fields in a nature park. Charmingly sunny bedrooms and one family suite, swimming pool, an excellent table d'hote and lunch time picnics. A great choice for an active family holiday and lots to explore in the natural park.
A stunning country house hotel with sweeping countryside views. Atmospheric rooms, family suites with some four poster beds, with fireplaces, wooden beams and stone floors. Small swimming pool, gardens, good restaurant. Close to Granada, lots to do around too.
Comfortable family hotel, a restored olive mill in stunning location. Shaded gardens, flowering terraces, with pool and garden restaurant. Very pretty bedrooms, good organic food and great walks all around. Heaven.
A rustic chic all white B&B in Andalucia, yet close to both Malaga and Seville. White washed walls, wooden beams, cosy rooms, and a courtyard garden with pool, boast plenty of charm. An excellent value spot for local exploring.
Benahavis, Malaga, Costa del Sol
Distinctive small hotel/restaurant with comfortable rooms and charming owners in a Moorish mountain village, a short drive from the sea. Good food and pool in historic hilltop village location.
A fantastic little eco lodge on the edge of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park. Simple rooms have iron beds and pretty fabrics. Lovely sitting room bar and fireplace, sunny pool, and lots to do in the forest around. Excellent value for families, nature lovers, sports enthusiasts.
Alcalá del Valle, Andalucía
Gorgeous white washed Andalusian farmhouse B&B. Bedrooms have stone floors, wooden beams, attractive furnishings and splashes of modern art. Lovely breakfast room and stunning views from the pool over the valley around. A peaceful choice with plenty to do in the surrounds.
A lovely rustic farmhouse B&B surrounded by olive groves and rolling countryside. A white washed building with charming rustic interiors - stone floors, wooden beams, fireplaces. Lovely pool and garden, lots do to in the countryside around. Excellent value.
A lovely Cortijo set in a Natural Park. Blissful green surroundings, sitting rooms with fireplaces, sunny patios and a pool, massages, and authentic cuisine. Rooms and one villa sleeping 4 are all in white with traditional furnishings. A great choice for outdoor activities and relaxation.
Fantastic guesthouse in the hills of Sierra Nevada National Park. A traditional stone building with charming rooms that blend contemporary elements with stone floors, fireplaces, wooden beams and creamy furnishings. Fantastic views from terraces, pool, excellent food, and lots of activities around.
A gorgeous four star manor house hotel in Andalusian style. Contemporary chic rooms and suites with subtle lighting and creamy/light wood furnishings. Superb herb garden and central restaurant courtyard. Excellent spa too. A romantic city spot.
A lovely stone lodge in the middle of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park. Rustic bedrooms have wooden beams, fireplaces and stone floors. Spectacular views over the hills and mountains around from terraces. A great choice for a sporting summer or winter holiday.
Cartajima, Malaga, Andalucía
Cosy and intimate boutique hotel in centre of traditional white village. Charming interiors, airy rooms, great attention to detail. Log fires in the winter, extensive library. Perfect for a relaxed break.
Scottish owned, informally-run maison d'hote in woodland setting. Group dining on the terrace with cordon-bleu cuisine. Airy, comfortable bedrooms, and self-catering cottages with plunge pools. Very relaxing.
A remote country house B&B set in the hills of Aracena. A striking pink building with five charming rooms and suites in pastels with watercolours, rugs, and lovely views. Sunny terraces, infinity pool, sitting room, excellent table d'hote and plenty to explore. A great choice for families.
Ubeda (Jaén), Andalucía
Well-preserved 16th-century palace, now a wonderfully aristocratic maison d'hote. Secluded setting, centred on cloistered courtyard, furnished with family antiques. Large baronial bedrooms, tasteful and charming.
A stunning mansion renovation that combines romantic original aspects with cutting edge modern design. Monochrome, yet still classic rooms and suites with lots of natural light and sumptuous furnishings. Fabulous restaurant and state of the art spa. Sophisticated and grand.
Vejer de la Frontera, Andalucía
This beautifully decorated hotel oozes boutique luxury. An eclectic combination of Goan antiques, original features, and contemporary muted hues. The roof top terrace, with jacuzzi, is the piece de resistance with its views across wild plains and towards Moroccan shores. Relaxation in style.
A remote B&B with peaceful views of the surrounding hills. Bali inspired rooms and suites in splashes of orange and turquoise. Self-catering kitchenettes are great for families. Lovely pool and lots to explore in the region. Suited to honeymooners and families.
A chic small hotel with magnificent terrace views of the Alhambra and charming rooms in Granada's boho quarter. Rooms, some sleep 4, have an eclectic mixture of antiques, chintzy wallpapers, Persian rugs, mosaics and private balconies. The garden, terraces and plunge pool are a treat. Full of charm.
Jerez de la Frontera, Andalucía
19th-century hunting lodge on the edge of family vineyards, converted into stylish boutique hotel for enjoying fine sherries and relaxing. Large rooms, high beamed roofs, great bathrooms. Shady garden, swimming pool, and lake. You will need a car.
This hotel melds Moorish authenticity with contemporary style fantastically. Faded frescoes, sand coloured stone, and Roman baths are complemented by modern comforts with utmost romance. Gourmet dinner in the inner courtyard is a show stopper. Never mind the city, you might never leave the hotel.
Loja, Granada, Andalucía
Fairytale five star Andalusian ‘village’ set in a 1,000 acre private country estate. Olive groves, oak trees, rolling countryside. Courtyards, gardens and fountains, plus palatial rooms full of Moorish furniture and art. Fine dining restaurants, spa and pool, ideal for families.
Very Spanish and rather ornate hotel in the old Jewish Quarter. Moorish influence and Roman mosaics. Sumptuously decorated rooms, Cordoban antiques, charming courtyard, quiet.
This statuesque family-run hotel is set in the undulating mountains of Sierra Morena. Surrounded by olive and orange groves stands a country retreat with swimming pools, tennis courts, and beautiful courtyards that make for a perfect country retreat - and with oodles of personality.
Ronda, Malaga, Andalucía
Mellow, converted olive mill with beautiful gardens. Chic bedrooms with terraces, romantic setting and interiors. Terrace restaurant, pool, library, bar, spectacular views. Charming and relaxing.
Romance in microcosm. This secluded hotel made up of four beautifully decorated suites perfects the art of intimacy. An understated and secluded destination.
Las Cabezas de San Juan, Andalucía
A charming hideaway country hotel on a former olive estate. Rustic charm mixed with modern sophistication, with romantic gardens, three pools and elegant anglo-spanish interiors. Good base, bring a car.
Marbella, Costa del Sol
A stunning golf resort with beautiful suites. The golf course is not the only wow factor - the spa, delicious food, and fantastic reception rooms make this an ideal place for private parties and gourmet spa breaks off the golf course.