Hotel "Refugio de Juanar" (Distinguished Establishments)
This hotel, which is an ancient hunting lodge of the Marqueses of Larios, is a place full of history and anecdotes. Located in the Sierra Blanca (The White Mountains) between Ojen and Monda, it is reached by a five kilometre tarmac road that meanders amongst forests and mountains, and finally stands out surrounded by trees as a uniquely beautiful setting.
The two floor/storey construction is faithful to the ancient architectural design although some necessary and logical modifications have been carried out to make it suitable for tourists to enjoy. The roof, which is slanted to allow for the rapid drainage of rainwater, is made of the traditional ancient roof tiles. The walls are mainly of stone and brick and they are predominantly light-coloured with large windows, which combines well with the soft light that creeps through the tree tops.
The entrance to the Refuge leads directly to the reception desk through a courtyard. The common area which welcomes the visitor and opens up the way to the other facilities is a warm, inviting spot where wooden materials have been combined with clay tiles. There are displays of some of the local products in this area such as, sweet Malaga wine (from the Refuge’s own vineyard), pottery, wooden sculptures, oils, maps, clothes and sweets...
The Juanar Refuge has twenty double bedrooms, one single and four suites, all of which have exterior windows and views of the mountains and forest. They are spacious and functional places where pottery, brick and wood are the predominant materials. The decoration is serious and in accordance with the traditional rustic style, with hunting motifs scattered around the rooms. The suites also have a lounge which has its own fireplace, and two of them even have a Jacuzzi.
Back in the reception area and along the corridor that passes through it, the visitor comes to two salons located next to the bar-coffee shop and the Main Lounge of the hotel. Here, there is an enormous fireplace which heats up the main area on cold and rainy winter days. These common areas are adorned with comfortable armchairs, chairs and sofas, coloured lamps, old cupboards, glass cabinets and above all decorations and commemorations from the old days when hunting was a daily activity: old-fashioned shotguns, sketches, trophies, ornaments… these details which create a charming and historical atmosphere and that invite the guest to enjoy a quiet moment to appreciate a good book, a chat or simply a drink in the company of friends or family.
From one of the rooms or from the restaurant, which is reached through the salon, there is direct access to the terrace. This is a spacious area with a seating capacity of 450 where the restaurant services can be enjoyed and also where the barbeque and swimming pool, which is filled with the spring water from the hotel grounds, can be found. It is a place from where the beauty of the area can be contemplated, surrounded by and even almost enveloped in gigantic trees whose branches are always full of hundreds of birds, and from time to time the odd squirrel or two. The sound of the wind is a constant companion and makes itself felt.
When it comes to gastronomy, this establishment is worthy of special attention. Its restaurant, which has a capacity of 150 people, is a reference point in the area and throughout the Costa del Sol. The wooden chairs and tables, and decorative details in each corner make this space especially charming and intimate. It has a very complete and detailed menu. The meals are well presented and their careful elaboration speak of the much deserved recognition it enjoys. As starters the excellent home-made pate with Cumberland sauce or duck liver with onion stand out. As for first courses, the partridge with rice in stock, the sole fillets with azafran, the sole fillets in Azafran or the Cod a la Vizcaina are worthy of special mention. All of the meat dishes are also deserving of a try, especially the birds and game. In this section, guests can ask forpartridge in brine, pheasant a la Alcantara, venison loin in sweet Malaga wine, small pork chops in mint sause or Segovian style sucking pig. Finally, for dessert the outstanding ones are the walnut mousse with strawberry, sorbet ice-cream with Esmeralda sauce and the special Juanar wine.
However, no conversation about the Juanar Refuge is complete without talking about its wine cellar. It is an exquisite place where the smell of wine and cured hams mix and it is a real pleasure to visit it. There are more than 7.500 bottles altogether, some of which are museum pieces, and it is treated as the spoilt child of the household. The incredible richness of this offer is reflected in the magnificent menu that the restaurant has which will satisfy even the most demanding taste buds. The cellar has large barrels of sweet wine and a large wooden table, which is placed underneath legs of Iberian ham, and guests can make the most of the opportunity to join some 50 or so other people in a wine-tasting session which is accompanies by some ham or a plate of cured cheese.
This establishment, which is open all year round, has also got three salons with all the necessary technical equipment to carry out conventions or professional meetings or courses. Their maximum capacities are 50, 20 and 20, respectively.
From the hotel the guests can choose to go on any of the six hiking trails that are perfectly sign posted according to their possibilities, and go into the heart of the mountain range and overlook the sea. The location of the Refuge, in the Sierra de la Nieves but also close to the Costa del Sol, allows guests to participate in short trips to enjoy many of the tourist offers that are abundant in Malaga and its province.