08 Feb

Monday, February 5, 2024 

By Paul Whitelock

As we all know, exits from motorways and main roads correspond to the distance in kilometres from the start of that road. For example, all roads leading from Madrid start at kilómetro cero

The Carretera de Sevilla (A374) in Andalucía starts at Algodonales and continues to Ronda (Málaga) at kilómetro 34. 

The title of this piece, Kilómetro 26, refers to the exit to our house, but also to four hotels, three vineyards, two real estate agencies, the Spanish Foreign legion barracks and around 50 fincas.

Photo: Paul Whitelock

This area is not a town, nor a village, but a pedanía, a district. Its name is Fuente de La Higuera, after the spring at the area’s heart. It has its own mayor(ess), and an active Asociación de Vecinos (AVV) (neighbourhood association). 


Hotels, guesthouses, vineyards, estate agencies and casas rurales.

Ronda Valley Hotel

Photo courtesy of Paul Whitelock

The hotel right by the exit at kilómetro 26 is the Ronda Valley Hotel. The name was changed fairly recently by the Portuguese owners, probably unaware of its similarity to the name of an area in South Wales, the Rhondda Valley.Locals and delivery drivers still know the hotel as the Hotel Don Benito, the name it had for several decades.

The Ronda Valley (nee Don Benito) is my local. It’s the second-nearest to my house, but, crucially it is open every single day of the year. Other hotels are seasonal and close for the winter.

Photo: Paul Whitelock

I visit my local most days, either for an early morning coffee in the spring and summer months or for pre-dinner drinks in the evenings all year round.

Most of the patrons are locals, neighbours or folk who work in the area. These locals are farmers, agricultural workers, vineyard staff and off-duty legionaires. All Spanish.

There is also a sprinkling of foreigners (guiris), either tourists or residents. I am one. We are commonly referred to as ex-pats, but I prefer the word immigrants, because that is what we are.

The hotel is always busy and often full. The rooms are well-priced, so the Ronda Valley attracts lots of tourists, as well as commercial travellers. 

There is also a large free carpark, a massive terrace, a pool, tennis court and padel court. 

And, a restaurant. 

And the bar.

And it’s only seven minutes’ drive to Ronda.

I really like the Don Benito. It’s better than any local I ever had in England. Friendly staff, friendly locals and friendly prices.


Hotel Molino del Puente

Photo courtesy KAYAK 

100 metres along the road is this English-run hotel and restaurant. Ian and Elaine Love met as youngsters on the Costa del Sol. They got together, married and ran a successful restaurant in Cabopino, The Harbour Lights. They had three daughters.

Then after thirty successful years they decided to sell up and move inland. They chose Ronda, where they found, bought and renovated a dilapidated mill, and turned it into what it is today – a charming three-star hotel and acclaimed restaurant, La Cascada.                                         


Love Viviendas

Logo courtesy Love Viviendas

With offices based at the Hotel Molino del Puente, this relatively new estate agency is run by the aforementioned Ian Love and his middle daughter Carly Love. They are both experienced in the field, Ian inland and Carly on the coast. 

Now they have combined their expertise and experience and have developed a portfolio of properties across the whole of the Serrania de Ronda.   

Love Viviendas

Telephone: +34 619 056 055


Cortijo La Perla Blanca and Bodegas Badman

Photo courtesy La Perla Blanca

From the hotel, take the right-hand fork and in 100 metres you come across the entrance to this mini-country estate. Up a 50-metre drive through a field of vines, you first come to the elegant cortijo, now a bijou hotel around a central courtyard. The rooms are well-appointed and expensive, but they are invariably full, especially at weekends.

Currently in the hands of a family from South Africa, they have been busy re-organising and tidying up. 

Bodegas Badman 

Oops! Costly spelling mistake

Photo: Paul Whitelock

..... are housed in a part of the main building and their vineyards extend up the hill. The winery is run by young entrepreneurs Simbad and Manuel, whence the name of the winery.

They haven’t been going long but have steadily built a good reputation for their wines. They have already attained Denominación de origen (DO) status, which is equivalent to Appellation Controlée (AC) in France.

We like their tinto made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. 


A1 Inmobiliaria - Real Estate

Retracing your steps to the T-junction, turn right and after about 50 metres on your right is this independent estate agency.

Design by Jonathan Baensch

A1 Inmobiliaria is a solo outfit run online by Paul Whitelock, although he works in collaboration with a number of other companies (see below).

A1 has a small portfolio of properties predominantly in Ronda and Montejaque. The properties range from hotels, bars and restaurants to small businesses, to fincas, apartments and village houses. They have visited all properties listed and know the owners personally.

A1 works in collaboration with: 

Andalucia Inland Properties (Málaga and Cádiz provinces); 

Inmobiliaria Atica (Ronda);

Emme Inmobiliaria (Ronda); 

Montejaque Holiday & Service (Montejaque);

Ronda Realty Properties (Ronda and Arriate);

Sierra Estates (Arriate).

A1 Inmobiliaria 

Tel: Paul (+34 636 52 75 16)

English, French, German and Spanish spoken 


Bodega Joaquín Fernández

Continuing up the hill, turn right at the fork and after about two kilometres you come to this ecological bodega. One of my favourites. I’ve done a couple of tasting tours there in the past led by Joaquín’s son “Moses” (Moises).

Unfortunately, Joaquín retired and sold out to an English pair. The new owners have decided to close the winery to the public – so no more tastings - and concentrate on wine production.

My favourite of their wines is a dry white wine made from black grapes. Delicious!     


Hotel Molino del Arco

A bit further on along this country lane and you fetch up at the Hotel Molino del Arco, another mill conversion, which is now a 4-star hotel.

Photo courtesy Hotel Molino del Arco

Spanish-owned and run, I know very little about this place. They seem to want to keep themselves to themselves. I think it’s guests only.

It's a beautiful and tranquil spot.

Tel: (+34) 952 11 40 17



Finca Retama

Another five minutes further on and you reach a delightful casa rural, which has a 3-bed, 2-bath apartment in the main house and a separate luxury 2-bed 2-bath country villa with disabled access.

Photo montage by Julia Flynn

There is a large pool set in lawns, a sauna, table tennis and extensive grounds.

Owners Nick (English) and wife Julia (Hungarian) live on site and personally welcome their guests.

Between them, they speak English, Spanish and Hungarian.


Casitamar, Casares Playa

They also have a luxury front-line villa at Casares Playa on the Costa del Sol. Check out their website (below):

Photo montage by Julia Flynn


For both properties, telephone:

(+34) 666 40 73 33 


Bodegas Gonzalo Beltrán

Going back to the exit from the main road at kilómetro 26, on the other side of the road is a dirt track which takes you down under the railway line to the main buildings of the winery. 

Gonzalo has vineyards throughout the Valle del Tajo, below the town of Ronda, but this is his HQ.

My favourite wine of theirs is a tinto called Perezoso (lazy).


Campamento de la Legión

A little further on past several houses, many of them abandoned, is the Spanish Foreign Legion barracks. This army regiment was modelled on the infamous French Foreign Legion.

There are just two Legion bases on the Spanish mainland: here in Ronda and in Almería in eastern Andalucia, three hours away.

Apart from deploying troops to trouble-spots, as part of Spain’s commitment to NATO, La Legión is very active in the community, organising events and hosting tours. 

The most important of their events is the 101, a race for cyclists, runners and walkers. This take place, normally on an annual basis, over a weekend in early May.

The distance is 101 kilometres. The cyclists need a couple of hours or so, the quickest runners around six hours, and the walkers quite a bit longer. They are still walking past our house (the route passes through Fuente de la Higuera) in the early hours of Sunday morning. 



So, Kilómetro 26, just an exit off the A374 road from Ronda to Sevilla, but an interesting one, I think. I wonder whether all junctions lead to such exciting places. I doubt it. 

A version of this article appeared on Eye on Spain on 05/02/2024  

© Paul Whitelock


Further reading:

Days of (Ronda) Wine… and Roses - Secret Serrania de Ronda

Early Morning Coffee (eyeonspain.com)

PLACES TO EAT - Help me, Ronda (help-me-ronda.com)

PLACES TO STAY - Help me, Ronda (help-me-ronda.com)

The other "Ronda valley" (eyeonspain.com)

Three new kids on the restaurant block - Help me, Ronda (help-me-ronda.com)

What is a guiri? It's what the Spanish call us foreigners - but is it good or bad? (secretserrania.com) 



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