los caracoles : frigiliana : andalucia : spain

On a drive, high up in the Andalucian hills, above the white washed town of Frigiliana and the coastal town of Torox, we spotted some very unusual shapes ahead of us. White domes, almost hobbit-like, overlooking the sea. From the roadside, they looked a bit forlorn, and we thought that they were possibly abandoned, so of course, we just had to find out what they were…

Turns out, they’re not abandoned buildings after all. They’re a complex of hobbit-like, cave dwellings which combine to form Los Caracoles (The Snails…), an amazing and unique hotel, with panoramic views over the Axarquia area of Andaluc√≠a, which we just had to investigate. Although we were staying in Nerja, we made a booking to explore – and each time we have been back in the area we’ve ensured that we’ve incorporated a stay at Los Caracoles, as we were so enchanted by it and its surroundings.

The complex is made up of five Snails (bungalows), each consisting of a master bedroom, a living room, bathroom and balcony, plus six double rooms with en suite bathroom and terrace. We’ve stayed a number of times and so have experienced both the Snails and the double rooms, and all have been pretty magical. The restaurant is located in a snail shaped dining room, with a spacious outdoor terrace. All tables have spectacular vantage points with views across the Andalucian hills, sprinkled with many pueblos blancos, and down to the sparkling Mediterranean sea. Landscaped gardens roll away. almost as if they fall off the hillside, and a beautiful pool, with sun loungers and accessorised with Moroccan lanterns, is a much needed addition – even in the winter we were warm, so can only imagine how much this pool would be required in the height of summer.

Because the buildings are made of stone – they are cave-like dwellings – they are not pristine. Each room/bungalow does have heating, in the form of wood-burners and electric heaters, and when we’ve stayed, these have been most welcome. We’ve only ever visited out of high season, and so we’ve experienced chilly weather, foggy weather and torrential rain, as well as blue sky and very warm sunshine, for the time of year. But, because the temperatures haven’t hit the highs they reach in the summer, the accommodation can feel cold, and at times, almost damp. However, once the burners are going, the rooms do heat up quickly, but if the initial feel of cold bedding leaves you cold, Los Caracoles might not be the place for you. If it is though, and if you can appreciate the unusual qualities on offer, then like us, we’re sure you will absolutely appreciate this very unique accommodation.

Being so high up in the hills, the views are just spectacular. And, so is the weather. On one visit, thick, impenetrable fog enveloped all of the site and it was so atmospheric, seeing white domes emerging in front of you in the mist. You do feel as if you are up in the clouds when the weather rolls in…

But the beauty of being so high up, is that as soon as the weather clears, you can see the beauty that lies in front of you…

As I said previously, if you want accommodation that is high end boutique and utterly pristine, maybe on this occasion, Los Caracoles is not for you. It is a little bit on the rustic side, perhaps even rough-ish around the edges in places, but it is totally unique. It’s a bit of a thrill to be so high up in the mountains, in very quirky accommodation and take your morning coffee, on a balcony overlooking the spread of Axarquia below you. The restaurant is definitely one of the highlights – and factor in eating here, because Los Caracoles is quite isolated. Although not too far from Frigilana, it’s a bit of a drive across the winding roads, so this restaurant is an excellent option. The menu is very inventive and when we’ve stayed in the past, the chef has been superb. Food is of a very high standard and quite different to your normal Andalucian fare. Fish and meat feature highly on the menu, but there is also a range of vegetarian options. Everything is fresh and cooked to order – we had, on one occasion, John Dory and Skate. The smell of the sea was still on them and they were the most delicious fish I have ever eaten. Breakfasts are substantial – and in the cooler months, just a lovely morning experience, as the wood burner is lit in the dining room, and soft lighting enhances the Moorish-inspired decor.

We are so looking forward to revisiting Los Caracoles on our next trip to Andalucia – and hoping that Blass, who was the largest puppy in the world – is still part of the fixture and fittings.

Published on 5th January 2023