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Hotel Al Lago

Hotel Al Lago

Zahara de la Sierra

A boutique hotel with a gourmet restaurant, set in a small mountain village close to the lake that gives the hotel its name.

Double rooms from £ 70
6 rooms
Guest Rating: 8.8 / 10
Hotel Al Lago Zahara de la Frontera

Located in the heart of the Sierra de Grazalema, Hotel Al Lago overlooks the spring fed lake of Zahara de la Sierra, a heritage Pueblo Blanco.

The rooms at Al Lago are spacious and charming, each with french doors and balconies that open out to face the lake and mountains. There are large comfy beds with high quality linens and bathrooms faced in local Ronda stone with modern fixtures, walk in wet room showers and handmade soaps. Guests can make use of the private sunroof terrace and sitting area with an assortment of magazines and wifi.

The bar is open all day and guests can order drinks and hot or cold tapas as well as baked goodies throughout the day.

Walking routes start at the doorstep and the hotel is able to book permits for guests to enter the Garganta verde and Pinsapar forest. Guided hikes and bird watching tours as well as horseback riding, tandem paragliding flights and kayaking, during summer months, can also be arranged. Zahara is well located as a base from which to explore other white villages such as Grazalema and Olvera or to make day trips to Sevilla and Jerez. Visits to wine bodegas in the Ronda area and the olive oil mills in Zahara itself are also popular.

Al Lago is family-run and very relaxed, whilst offering all the modern amenities a traveller needs. Stefan and Mona are happy to advise on local activities and to organise airport pickups if needed.

Click any thumbnail for the Photo Gallery
Hotel Al Lago Lake Zahara de la Frontera Hotel Al Lago Zahara de la Frontera Hotel Al Lago terrace Hotel Al Lago Seafood Hotel Al Lago Hotel Al Lago Hotel Al Lago bathroom Cueva de Gatos Goatherd’s Leap Zahara
Double Room
Superior Double Room

The menu at Al Lago brings the traditional Spanish kitchen into the modern day with an emphasis on lighter, fresher local produce prepared with the influences of diverse backgrounds; Chef Stefan Crites, a native of Columbus Ohio, earned his chef stripes in the kitchens of New York for 15 years. His wife Mona, who manages the restaurant and hotel, is a former textile designer who grew up in England of Indian and Pakistani parentage.

In summer the fishmonger scours the world famous fish market in Cadiz for plump sardines, sea anemonies, sushi grade tuna, razor clams and sea bass which are simply grilled with rosemary from the hotel garden. In winter the hunting season starts in earnest and there is a bounty of game on offer; wild boar, partridge, venison, rabbit and quail. The menu turns to heartier rustic dishes often braised in Rioja wine and with locally foraged mushrooms.

Lettuces, berries and vegetables are grown in the huertas (orchards) surrounding the village and are largely organic. The tinkling of goat bells heard everywhere in the village lets you know that great goats cheese is close by! Zahara´s fresh goat´s cheese, similar to a mozzarella and very gentle in flavour, is toasted on top of a grilled vegetable plate. The semi-cured and cured hard cheeses are on offer as a starter paired with home made quince jam or the soft cheese as a dessert drizzled with honey.

All desserts at Al Lago are homemade and offer a variety not normally found in the area, the New York style cheesecake being consistently the best seller for the past 4 years. The bodega (wine cellar) is stocked full with Spanish, especially, local wines; both the chef and his wife are huge fans of Ronda wines and are keen to introduce these gems to their customers. Every day they offer a five course Chef´s tasting menu, which changes seasonally and is available for a minimum of 2 people and with local wine pairings if desired.

Local swimming pool
Lake beach
Horse riding around the lake
Cycling (follow the Via Verde)
Cave exploring at the Cueva del Gato
Hiking in the Garganta verde
Bird watching

Places to visit:
Pueblos Blancos
Ronda (Tajo bridge, bullring)
Jerez (sherry bodegas)

Our two night stay here was wonderful. The hotel is in a fantastic location with views over the lake, easy to find and staff all very helpful. Meals excellent, had lunch and dinner here both days.
We have just returned from a lovely break at this hotel in the heart of Spain. The food was delicious time after time and we ate there most meals for 9 days working our way through the extensive delicious and imaginative menu.

The staff were delightful and could not do enough to make our stay pleasurable.

The location of the hotel was great for walking and biking and the extensive information at the hotel and from the owner, Mona, made our lack of pre planning no problem at all. We packed in loads of activities and had a couple of days on the pretty terrace reading and drinking the generous mojitos from the bar.

Liked everything about this hotel and hope to go again this time with my children who would enjoy all that there is to see and do there.
Great location for walking. Very comfortable, staff delightful and food wonderful. Get the up-to-date Zahara village map from tourist info. Peaceful lake view from terrace to sit out in better weather. Not sure how room ventilation would be once it warms up; "French" windows and/or a/c I think.
A lovely hotel beautifully furnished & very friendly adaptable staff. The food was delicious & served well. Felt breakfast did notecho standard of dinner menu. Would be very happy to return to Al Largo.
We stayed as a group of 3 in two rooms for two nights at the Hotel Al Lago from 26th March. Hotel is beautiful, fantastic location, lovely rooms & views. The food is stunningly good, if not very Spanish, for the price. The owner was not present for our first night stay, but was very helpful & informative for our second night. Even so, the staff deputising at night #1 could not have been more friendly, helpful & efficient. Bed was very comfortable, too.

I go to Spain probably twice a year and have done for quite some time. I am not a huge fan of Andalusia, but this hotel could make me go more often. Please don't print this review as they could well put the prices up. [Tongue-in-cheek comment, not serious. We checked! Little Hotels.] Also on the down side, our travelling companion was on his second trip to Spain and now possibly thinks that this is the default standard.

This is possibly one of the hotels I have most enjoyed staying at in Spain. The only two that I can think of that would give it competition would be Palacio Garvey at Jerez and Lopez de Haro in Bilbao, both of which are very different to it.

Because of the lack of coverage of your hotels, I have only used your site twice, once this year and once last year (Villa de Abalos). I think your ratings are reliable and both places used by me have been very sound choices. I would have no hesitation is using any of your recommended hotels.
We first came across Hotel Al Lago on the 'Little Hotels of Spain' website. What attracted us was a photo of the stunning view from the hotel's four bedrooms: the clear blue waters of the Embalse de Zahara-El Gastor, a beautiful man-made lake (reservoir). We also liked the fact that the owner, Stefan Crites, is a chef who trained in New York and puts his own spin on Andalucian cuisine. We stayed for 2 nights at the beginning of April, 2011, and found the scenery and the cuisine more than matched our expectations. We arrived towards the end of a busy lunchtime, but were given a seat on the sun-soaked terrace restaurant, where we whiled away the rest of the afternoon eating tapas, drinking chilled white wine and reading. It was such a lovely start to our break and we found this relaxed atmosphere to be a hallmark of Al Lago. Stefan, his wife Mona and their staff gave us exactly as much attention as we required - they were very responsive and friendly, yet gave us space if we wanted it. We enjoyed our stay so much that we booked a 9-day break over New Year and the Three Kings Festival (January 2012); and we have booked again for September 2012!

We have now stayed in two of the hotel's four rooms. The decor in each was light and modern, the en suites were well-appointed and everything was spotless. We did encounter a temperamental wardrobe door, but this was minor. We found it cold in the evenings in January, despite the heating system - that was our own fault for being less than well-prepared for the drop in temperature later in the day (thanks to Mona for lending me a heavy jumper!). Other facilities include a dining room, incorporating a small lounge area, whose decor demonstrates Mona's flair for interior design. Guests can have a meal in the dining room, take tapas in the bar, or eat out at the terrace restaurant. We have enjoyed a wide variety of Stefan's cooking, from pulpo (octopus), to wild boar, to spinach and avocado salad, to paella. Wines and coffee were always good. Breakfast is a cold buffet, which suited us perfectly: cereals, yogurt, fruit salad, bread (home made), ham, cheese, pate, salsa and olive oil. There is internet access. Stefan is American and Mona is English, which helps English-speaking visitors, although we had fun trying to improve our Spanish vocabulary, talking with Victoria and Toni, two of the staff.

Zahara de la Sierra is a great base for walking and Mona will happily suggest walks and apply for permits on your behalf, given sufficient notice. On our first visit, she arranged for a local guide to take us on the famous El Pinsapar walk. At New Year, we did several walks on our own, including the Garguanta Verde, the Walk of the Griffon Vultures, and Mr Henderson's Railway Walk. Zahara is also a good base for visiting other 'pueblos blancos' (white villages), such as Grazalema and Benaojan. Or you can venture further afield to Granada, Seville or Cadiz.

We loved this 'Little Hotel' and the surrounding area, and would heartily recommend them to others.

Little Hotels note:
See the photos sent to us by SJ. Go to Hotel Al Lago and scroll down to the Guest Reviews.

We may not have as many reviews as some, but we do know their provenance. They have all been written by people who have visited this hotel after booking through Little Hotels. We publish all reviews, unedited, except for the occasional spelling correction.

Here's What Some People Have Written On Other Review Sites or in the Guestbook:

"Very hospitable and comfortable. Ideally located for nature lovers, walkers, bird enthusiasts."

"Worth the find, outstanding food."

"Hosts Mona and Stefan couldn’t be more helpful."

"You are free to just wander around and the staff are very attentive but informal."

Guest Rating: 8.8 / 10
This rating has been calculated by combining data from various websites which publish ratings for Hotel Al Lago.

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In the hotel
  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Terrace
  • Free WiFi
  • Car parking
  • Bicycle hire (prior arrangement)

In your room
  • Flat‑screen television
  • Internet access
  • En‑suite bathroom
  • Hair dryer
  • Air‑conditioning and heating
  • Balcony with lake view

We Say

Stefan and Mona have brought their special skills to Al Lago (cooking and interior design respectively) and created a boutique hotel in a beautiful location right beside a stunning lake, enveloped in the equally stunning Sierra Grazalema. Many visitors come here especially for the food. 

A Word From the Owner

"At Al Lago a warm welcome awaits you, and our restaurant, renowned for its locally sourced well thought out menu, is open every day in summer and 6 days a week in winter. We endeavour to provide a relaxing, comfortable environment for you and are happy to organise activities for you and your family to enjoy during your stay."

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