On our way back from southern Spain to the UK, we had decided to make our first day’s travel longer than usual so as to arrive in Soria to see friends sooner the following day.
Google says the journey is 5h45 but in practice, having a lovely break in the La Teja venta (see previous post) and stopping once or twice to stretch legs, drink coffee etc, it was a good 7h of journey. Hercules the Hatchback Skoda lived up to his mighty name and swallowed up the kilometres without a complaint. I patted him every time we stopped, when I thought no-one was looking. Ahem.
We had found the little hotel, El Borbotón, via a hotel site called Top Rural which is actually an offshoot of “Home and Away”, a worldwide American site, but Top Rural specialises in little country hotels in Spain, and we love exploring small hotels in out of the way places! The reviews on Trip Advisor were not promising – the latest one says it has nothing to recommend it at all and is expensive. We were paying €55 including breakfast, so clearly that person has an unconventional idea of what “expensive” means; we were hoping he/she’d be wrong about the lack of charm too.
The hotel is immediately off a roundabout just outside the old town of Huete, but this isn’t a problem since there is little traffic on the road. There was a smell in the air, which while not unpleasant was quite pervasive; it seemed like baking bread at first, but it must have come from the milk-processing factory off one of the other roads on the roundabout.
This doesn’t sound promising so far, but the hotel buildings are lovely, with the entrance being through a round tower that was once part of a mill first built in the 18th century, then rearranged a few times since, changing from a mill to a flour processing plant to the hotel restaurant that it is now. It was still very hot outside at 6pm when we arrived, and the lovely round entrance hall was beautifully cool.
There was also a beautifully laid tile floor.
We knew there was a pool, so we checked in, changed and had a really cooling swim in the beautifully kept pool in the garden before changing and going out for a quick explore of Huete.
“Quick” is definitely the right word – it’s very pretty, but very small. There is a fine church/convent which is now partly converted to a photography museum, although it – like most of the town – appeared deserted.
Huete apparently has just over 2,000 inhabitants currently, so unless it is the most devout town in Spain one can only deduce from its 8 substantial churches, of which one was built by the Templars, that it was once more important than it is now.
The main event this August, it seems, was the Cucumber Festival which was due to take place the day after we left. Mmmm. I wonder if there’s a Shyalaman film to be made around Huete?
We returned to our little hotel for a drink before dinner.
There didn’t seem to be many other people staying, but we were invited to sit in the courtyard and have our aperitif. The fact that we were the only people out there, and that all the other chairs were tipped up against tables was not really a problem, although it didn’t add significantly to the atmosphere; I was more concerned about the (used) rifle target propped up on a table just behind Julia’s shoulder and hoped we weren’t going to annoy the hotel owner in any way.
In fact, the garden around this little hotel is very pretty, and the view through to the field of ageing sunflowers beyond the courtyard was truly pretty, and so representative of this area with its uncompromising geology and heavily exploited river valleys.
Dinner was simple, as we knew it would be, and very nice as well as being reasonably priced. We both had bean stew, followed by “lamb stew made by grandma”, and we drank a good local red wine from Pago Calzadilla called Opta (mostly Tempranillo, with some Grenache and some Syrah).
Our room was beautifully cool, the furniture traditionally Spanish and the beds comfortable.
All in all, it was a really pleasant stay. And we didn’t get shot.