Casa Grande do Bachao, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
On a night of dramatic, torrential rain; the type that was so violent that it seemed to set the scene perfectly for a murder movie, we wondered if we would ever find our way to our hotel. Driving through the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela, unrelenting sheets of water crashed down onto our rental car, as we tried to peer out of the steamy windows to spot any helpful road signs. After a frightening battle with the elements, we were delighted to see the sign for Casa Grande do Bachao. The warm welcome we received upon entering was a sharp contrast to the storm, which we had left behind outside.
Beautifully decorated historic manor house
This beautifully decorated historic manor house exudes warmth and personality, absolutely in tune with the young couple who run the establishment. Stone and wood blend perfectly together in interesting spaces, all of which are true to its 18th century Galician architecture. Casa Grande do Bachao is, in fact, a group of buildings, consisting of two houses, corn granaries, spacious stone terraces and a stone cross.
12 guest rooms named after historical personalities
The twelve guest rooms in this rural, boutique hotel have been named after interesting historical characters. Each room is beautifully decorated, with its own unique personality. Rooms overlook the woodlands and various parts of the estate, including the stone cross and the grapevines. Through the windows, each view seems like a painting, yet they are not paintings, but rather elements of the landscape, which blend together to make it seem so.
We stayed in the Sofía de Holanda guestroom. I was delighted to hear that she was a Dutch countess. She was mugged while on pilgrimage to Santiago. Despite being stabbed several times she didn’t even get a scratch.
Surrounded by nature
Casa Grande do Bachao is set on a 3 acre estate, which is embraced by seemingly never-ending trees, that seem to hug tightly onto each other. Part of the River Tambre lies at the bottom of the estate, so if you like to go fishing, all you need to do is get the required license organised. This Galician estate guarantees tranquility and revitalising contact with Mother Nature. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities which can be organised for you, including canoeing and white water rafting.
Just 15 minutes from Santiago de Compostela
As we stood there taking in the beauty of our surroundings it was hard to believe that all of this wonderful wilderness is only 15 minutes drive from Santiago de Compostela, the old town of which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the UNESCO-ICOMOS Report of 1984, Santiago de Compostela was described as “an ideal city which is overflowing with history and timeless as well.”
The city is best known for its magnificent Cathedral, which is Spain’s most outstanding example of Romanesque art. It is said that the remains of the apostle St. James are buried there, making the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela the final destination point of the Camino de Santiago and all of the Ways of St. James. Besides its famous cathedral, the city has an abundance of historic monuments, fascinating museums, contemporary architecture and green spaces. In fact over the years it has been awarded several prizes because of its environmental and scenic qualities.
By the way, the food in Galicia in general is excellent, and the city of Santiago de Compostela is not an exception to this rule.
A romantic escape at Casa Grande do Bachao
As we had booked the hotel rather last-minute, and our flight into Santiago de Compostela was a little late coming in, neither of us had even thought about dinner arrangements. We must have arrived to the hotel around 10 o’clock at night, and as it was a very quiet time of year, we pretty much had the hotel to ourselves and the dining room was closed.
Having arrived to such a warm, authentically designed manor house, out of such a horrendous storm, the last thing we wanted to do was consider heading back into the town to find somewhere to eat.
Our lovely hostess quickly remedied the situation by offering us a platter of delicious hams and cheeses, and home-made rustic breads. She led us into the intimate bar and pool room, and once she saw us settled, looking happy with our platter and some wine, she asked if it was okay if she retired for the evening.
Being practical, and with appetite, my partner asked what would we do if we wanted some more wine, and she casually replied that we should help ourselves from the bar. We were both trying not to look at each other in amazement, as we found ourselves in this idyllic setting, that was made even more romantic by the trust she had extended to us. Of course we have no way to know if she has ever done this for other guests, but the situation has been etched in our memories forever.
I know that there are some people who may say that this is not the kind of service one might expect at a 4-star hotel, but we both truly believe that she judged the situation perfectly, as what she did made our night ever so special.
As a couple away for a romantic break, we really didn’t want someone hovering around, and she responded intuitively to this. Isn’t this what service should really be it?
Casa Grande do Bachao,
Location: Sta Cristina de Fecha, Santiago de Compostela, Galacia, Northern Spain
Telephone: 00 34 981 558 705
Nearest airport: Santiago de Compostela, 18 miles