Juan Valiente is at heart an attempt to create the perfect country house with an emphasis on getting out of your room and enjoying the rest of this remarkable retreat. Hotels create isolated self-contained rooms where guests spend most of their time in glorious isolation and offer little else. We are different. We don’t have huge identical bedrooms filled with passionless furniture. Instead we have chosen to create only seven cradling fourteen people but with lots of communal spaces. None are particularly big but they are deeply personal and very easy on the eye (and skin given that we provide organic shower gel and shampoo plus handmade soaps). So your bedroom won’t have a TV but there are two in the house plus a proper cinema. You might not have a terrace but there are seven close by. You may not be able to set up an office in your room but we have various locations where you can work aided by free wi-fi and printing/copying/scanning facilities. Let me make the introductions.

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Sky

Our highest bedroom, sharing the air with eagles and the breezes rolling off the mountains. I call it the “View with a Room” but the name was too long to fit on the key fob. “Sky” comes with its own private terrace with hammocks from which to marvel at the towering rock faces which guard our sanctuary.

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The bedroom has a beautiful wood and ceramic ceiling, a hand carved chestnut bed bought from some hippies in exchange for a lava lamp and a walnut sofa upholstered in my grandmother’s favourite velvet curtains. There are also a couple of lino cuts by a friend who went on to become Sculpture Curator at the Louvre. The bathroom has a hand carved stone basin sat on a19th century oak stand reclaimed from a church sacristy and tiles glazed using the same recipe as used in the Alhambra. Lots of stairs to climb, a tight squeeze to get into bed, but for those who want to feel on top of the world, this is where you should hang your hat.

Sweet Suite

A cutie two shoes of a room with its own separate little living room. More Granny velvet commandeered for the sofa, a spectacular 19th century silver mirror and table, another chestnut bed, classic 50’s bird and flower prints, oak floors, doors dragged from the wreckage of a school where News International now have their printing works in London and beamed ceilings using timbers from Granada’s oldest flour mill.

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The bathroom is eye dazzling with multi-coloured hand painted tiles and a basin carved from travertine marble. If you are a couple one of who likes to sit up reading whilst the other floats away in bed, reserve this room.

The Waterfall

If you happen to be a clothes fanatic in love with a mermaid then stop whatever you are doing and reserve this room. Why? Because it has the mother of all wardrobes and the father of all bathrooms. We really went to town on this one. I wanted a Jacuzzi, my girlfriend a waterfall shower. I wanted a rough cut marble cave and she a stone basin carved as though a giant pebble.

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Why compromise! We did it all. Seriously, the bathroom is a total delight and homage to design obsession. The mirror, like most in the house, is hang-over friendly. So hand carved sub-Saharan doors stand between you and your pallid blood shot reflection. A fresh Lecrin Valley orange juice and milled coffee later and you’ll be ready to fold back the doors and meet your smiling face. Look around you. Yes, the walls and ceiling are mineral stucco. Yes, the toilet is a one off colour specially made for you. You’ve guessed it, the waterfall shower is indeed in a

cave of rough cut Travertine marble. And that’s just for starters but I should leave some surprises for when you get here.
The bedroom’s not bad either. Very stylish yet polite. I particularly like the ship’s writing desk supported on cast iron brackets saved from a crumbling Indian cricket pavilion in Madras. An ideal choice for one and all but particularly for those in love. You provide the kisses, we’ll bring on the wine, candles and billowing bubbles.

Botticelli

Stop press. La nascita di Venere is still in the Uffizi. The room takes its name from the bed bought from an Egyptian trader which bears an uncanny resemblance to the shell Venus pops out of in the buff. The good news is that you don’t have to be a Goddess to stay here though our mission is to make you feel like one. Back on earth, at the other end of the room we have placed a sofa upholstered in more of granny’s velvet.

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Of humble birth my gran discovered that if she opened an account with Harrods they would offer free deliveries to her semi in Surrey. She loved nothing better than to twitch those curtains to see if the van had pulled up with her quarter pound of best back bacon. Better still if a neighbour was about to witness the delivery. I like to think she would appreciate her curtains living the life at Juan Valiente.

What else should I tell you? There’s a desk, seriously high beamed ceiling and a good sized fancy bathroom with yet another stone wash-hand basin, deluge shower and stucco wall finishes. Good news: no stairs to climb. Bad news: potentially a bit noisy if the flamenco guitarists who come and go get into their stride.

You must be Kidding

I have five children and my heart sank every time I went to a hotel and had to lodge them in rooms which are a total turn off for anyone under the age of thirty. So here’s one created exclusively for two children. Co-designed with a three year old, this room is the essence of childhood. A proper school blackboard, toys, kid sized chairs and table, a sort of tree house bed (one of two) banned to adults , hanging mobiles and lots of storage.

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And then there’s the floor. The year is 1986. The place, outside the Natural History museum in London. Its summer and I’m indulging in the great British vice of skip rummaging. What’s this? Maple flooring! Labourers dump more and I ask what’s up. Apparently first floor offices are being refurbished and the floor has to be pulled up. It was a gift from the Canadian government to their boss, Queen Victoria. Wow! Maybe Darwin paced these boards unravelling evolution?

Several trucks and extreme restoration later and that floor is now installed in this room.
Who knows what child may tread in that genius’s footsteps to write the next life changing theory on the blackboard? This room is a must have for children and thus completely unsuitable for adults. To be read in conjunction with “A family Affair”.

A Family Affair

Of course, no children’s room is of any use if the parents aren’t close by. So we have built a parent’s bedroom next door with a shared bathroom. If you reserve the kid’s room you also have to have to reserve the parent’s room. However if you just want the parents room then that’s fine.

So what does “A Family Affair” have to offer?

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First off, lots of light and views across to the forest. As for furniture, it is mainly Malaysian Colonial bought from a retired Spanish diplomat who found no place for it in his Madrid flat. But the crowning glory is the mirror and matching table. Dated to around 1750 and gold leafed, the carving has an innocence which softens its grandeur. Back in the day, any aspiring noble family would have commissioned such an ensemble. Now it’s a curved TV for him and a fiat 500 convertible for her. Most such mirrors are carved with such perfection as to take any life out of the motifs. Not so with this one. The family were clearly

country gentry and probably got the local joiner, more used to repairing the church pews, to carve as best he could .I love it. It has a naïve charm which makes the birds and swirling leaves and flowers come alive.
So curl up in Indochina and imagine some Spanish nobility preening herself in her new gold mirror. Don’t worry, the children will be far too busy playing in the tree house to want a story this night. Finally the bathroom. Not perhaps as dazzling as the others but crisp and colourful with a tap which changes colour depending on the water temperature to ensure children find washing fun and safe

Down to Earth

Finally we have the garden room. If I had a mad brother I would house him here. Not because the walls are padded, just that it has its own entrance and is very private. In fact, I once had a girlfriend who was so unobservant that she didn’t realise the room existed for over a year. The big plus of this room is that it is super quiet and has just a reclaimed door between you and the great ( and I mean GREAT) outdoors.

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We’ve placed a teak bench outside for those meditative moments and a 19th century mangle if you need to iron your newspaper of a morning. The room is quite spacious though simpler than the rest. There is nothing really striking about it but it has a classic homely feel. Cute bathroom though with Morescan tiles made by a family of potters who have turned their wheels for over 300 years. Oh, and there is a vintage Teas-made. Ideal for true nature lovers who like a good brew.