Sometimes you stumble on a piece of perfection by accident, and that's exactly what happened when I found today's featured accommodation. On a driving holiday through Europe I planned some of my stops, but left others to chance. I had pre-booked 'El Convent 1613', partly because it looked so special, and also because I didn't want to miss out on a room in such a remote location. The beautiful hotel is based in a small town called La Fresnada, which has been declared an artistic historic heritage site. It is in a remote location (Zaragoza, the closest city is 90 minutes, and 120km away) with hardly any other tourists in this region, that is part of what makes it so special - it's as if no one else knows about it!
Just over a decade ago, the family decided to turn their house (previously an old convent) into a small hotel with just twelve rooms. Photos do not do this place justice, and the central patio (see photo below) is a mixture of ancient and modern with the restaurant in the old choir area, and the former side chapels sectioned off with modern sheets of glass to make for cosy reading rooms or secluded areas in which to dine. Speaking of dining, the food here is sensational. They make the best of local, and seasonal produce, and even their light bites are to die for.
The surrounding area (Teruel/Matarranya) is stunningly beautiful, and there is a lot to discover in the local villages, including a wealth of local produce (Teruel cured ham; goat's cheese, and local wine). While it is small, you can easily entertain yourself for a night or two in La Fresnada itself though, and trust me, the locals will treat you like one of their own, greeting you like a long lost relative. It also has to be said that simply spending time by the swimming pool in the stunning hotel gardens is certainly no hardship either!
It's the little details which make this place. If you look closely at the tiles you'll see the person who made them has put his own stamp on it - it could be a hen's foot (see photo below) or it could be a cat's paw print. Sometimes, unique touches like that can be the difference between a great place to stay, and a unique one.
The introduction on the hotel website sums this place up, and it's the perfect thought to leave you with. "For travellers who are not merely tourists, for those who savour food and don't merely eat it, for those who observe things and don't merely see them...welcome to our home."