Ronda – Mercadillo – staying on Calle Real

This was my second time in Ronda. My first visit was on a brief day trip during a holiday nearly twenty years before, in September 1997. The late-summer heat stopped us walking around too much on that first trip but on this visit in April 2016 I had the opposite problem as the spring rain prevented me getting out and about as much as I’d have liked to.

Ronda is divided into three neighbourhoods: the relatively modern Mercadillo (with the bullring, train and bus stations) which is separated by a steep gorge from La Ciudad, the old Moorish quarter. This in turn extends down to the old city wall at Puerta de Almocábar beyond which is Barrio de San Francisco, lying outside the walls. Google map here.

Looking at the map I could see my hotel on Calle Real was walkable from the station but I wasn’t counting on having to drag my spinner across cobbles for the last section. I arrived without too much hassle though.

What a hotel! I think perhaps my favourite ever! The Hotel EnFrente Arte (€80 a night for a single room in April 2016) is located in an old townhouse at 40 Calle Real but its attitude is entirely modern with much of the interior Pop Art décor made from upcycled materials.

The reception desk is the front half of an old Seat 600 whereas the back half is used for plate storage in the breakfast lounge. Similar quirky ideas (tyres and surfboards for tables, colanders for lampshades, basketballs for plant pots) can be found throughout the building. Funky isn’t a word I use lightly but I think it can be correctly applied here.

The hotel permanently resides at the #1 spot on TripAdvisor for good reason. Even Madonna stayed here (in room 10) when she was in town. Please click on a photo for a full screen slideshow.

My receptionist was the wonderful Toko from Hokkaido in Japan who speaks fluent English and Spanish. She was super helpful and very efficient, as were all the staff I met. The breakfasts are great; I loved the chorizo and quail’s egg fry up every morning. You’re taught how to use the coffee machine when you arrive and it’s all very self-service. Free drinks are included in the price. My only quibble was that there’s no 24 hour reception service but that’s a new trend in Spanish hotels it seems. Just don’t forget the door code.

The hotel is the creation of a collective based around a Belgian band called dEUS and this is their creative bolthole. It’s a fabulous place, and very popular, so it’s best to book it as soon as you can.

There are lots of other nice old buildings along Calle Real, and you’ll also find the Fuente de los Ocho Caños (Fountain of the Eight Spouts) on the corner with Calle Santa Cecilia. Again, click to go full screen.

At the end of the Calle Real is the Puente Viejo, the older and smaller of the two main bridges that cross the gorge, the Tajo, into the old town, La Ciudad. Alternatively you can turn right before the bridge and walk up Calle Escolleras to the upper part of Mercadillo. Please see the coming posts for these places.

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