Tucked away in the Spanish hills lies a very special holiday villa. With everything a young family could ever need during their vacation (and probably a bit more!) Dove Villa proves to be a huge hit with Tots families year after year.
This year it was the turn of Charlotte and her beautiful family, who travelled to the Costa del Sol, stayed at this wonderful place earlier in the summer, and had such a fantastic time she put together this wonderful review for us.
Hi, I’m Charlotte, a mum of two gorgeous children (a busy chatty pre-schooler and a cheeky one year old), wife to an NHS doctor, a travel addict and a full time University lecturer. We live in rural Warwickshire, not far from the historic town of Stratford Upon Avon.
I’ve just returned to work after my second child but we certainly made the most of my maternity leave – going on no less than 7 holidays (5 of which were abroad!). We love exploring the world with our little people, making memories that will last a lifetime. A passport and a plane ticket and a passion for adventure feels like the best gift I can possibly give my children.
My husband and I have always loved exploring the world but a lack of time and a lack of money (we were both students for far too long!) meant that we hit our thirties with a huge bucket list of destinations that we were yet to visit. When I found out I was expecting our first child (back in 2013) I have to admit to being worried that holidays would be a thing of the past and that snow-capped mountains and golden sands would have to wait for a while! How wrong I was. I can honestly say that with some careful thought and lots of preparation holidays with children are a joy and that we’ve had some of our best experiences as parents.
We’ve just returned from an idyllic two weeks exploring the delights on offer in Andalucia, Spain. The first week was spent seeing the moorish sites of Seville and Cordoba (more about that at some point) but the second week was spent having some much needed R&R at Dove Villa, in the hills north of Malaga – our very own slice of paradise for a week.
Booking through Tots to Travel
Yet again we booked through Tots to Travel – the accommodation they offer is simply in a league of its own and knowing that your children are going to be well catered for, welcomed and therefore happy really takes the pressure off us mummies and daddies (and makes even the run up to a family holiday relaxing!)
Regulars to my blog will know that we’ve been very lucky over the last 6 months or so and we’ve had a number of fabulous holidays. When it came to planning our summer holiday we quickly settled on wanting to see Seville and the Alhambra…so our search of the Tots to Travel website was restricted to the properties in southern Spain. There were a few options but Dove Villa stood out from the crowd largely because of the idyllic peaceful and rural location with the added bonus of a private pool.
As we’ve come to expect from Tots to Travel the booking process was seamlessly smooth. Once we’d paid an initial deposit we were sent the detailed booking form (via the online booking portal) – allowing us to indicate what child/baby equipment we’d need as well as booking additional cleaning services, home cooked meals and mid-week cleans (the added extras make such a difference!). Communication with the owners (Susan and Harold) was amazing. I had a number of friendly email exchanges to sort out and finalise details like our first evening meal (yummy lasagne!), location of baby cot and arrival time. It’s these special touches that make such a difference when travelling with little people.
If, like us, you don’t particularly like staying in the centre of a large and busy resort but quite like having access to the facilities they offer then Dove Villa is spot on. Whilst it’s reasonably remote (think picturesque mountain roads with incredible views) it’s easily within striking distance of so many of the main landmarks in Andalusia (1hr30 from the Alhambra Palace in Granada, 1hr 30 from Cordoba and 30 minutes from the coast at Malaga). The access road, whilst rustic, was perfectly manageable (even in our awful hire car!) and the Google map directions worked perfectly (although we didn’t believe them at first!).
The views from the property are stunning and we spent many an evening watching birds sore above the hills and listening to the bells of nearby goat herds – all whilst sipping ice cold Cava (does it get better than this?)! It’s worth noting that there is a motorway viaduct relatively close to the villa but it doesn’t impact on your stay in any way (although when the children were quiet, and that was rare, you could hear a faint noise).
The villa is well placed for supermarkets, Casabermeja (around 10 minutes) away has a very well stocked supermarket as well as little independent food shops within the old town (it also has two play parks and a Friday market). Slightly further afield, Antequera also has a number of large supermarkets as well as an incredible play park (award winning in fact!). Bread is apparently delivered to the villa Monday -Saturday – but I have to say we didn’t have much luck getting any!
Susan and Harold originally brought the villa as their family holiday home and it certainly retains the home from home feel. They now live in the adjacent house meaning they are there should you need them.
The immaculate flat, with its own private entrance, has everything (and more!) that you’d need for a stress free family holiday. The terrace (equipped with shaded dining area and comfy sun loungers) is not overlooked at all and the swimming pool was secure and maintained daily (thanks Harold!).
The Villa had a well stocked kitchen – should you want to you could easily knock up a gourmet dinner for the whole family (or you could just ask Susan to rustle up one of her meals – the one we had was delicious!).
The welcome hamper was without a doubt the best I’ve ever seen….we could (and did!) eat the food for the whole week.
Toys and equipment
One of the main reasons to book with Tots to Travel (aside from the fabulous properties!) is the range of toys and children’s equipment that is available and waiting for you on arrival. There’s nothing better than seeing the smiles on your children’s faces when they see boxes of toys…it also saves you having to lug out a suitcase full of plastic things!
Dove Villa has a wonderful shaded play area to the rear of the property equipped with a very high quality wooden sandpit (and a huge number of buckets and spades), an Ikea play tent and tunnel as well as a slide and two trikes. This space was a big hit with the whole family and was usable throughout the day (thanks to the canopy!). There was a number of other toys in the house (a walker, a rocking horse as well as shape sorters, building blocks, balls, cars, to name just a few) and a huge selection of books for all ages.
The villa had a really good selection of baby and child equipment (all bookable before arrival) – so we had a lovely cot, nappy changing area, bed guard, steps etc.
To be perfectly honest you could easily spend your days by the pool and enjoying the toys on offer but we love exploring new places and making new family memories. We also find that the odd trip out has the added bonus that it keeps little people out of the sun for part of the day and encourages even the most reluctant toddler to have a snooze on route! Here’s a taster of where we went whilst staying at Dove Villa.
El Torqual – Is an incredible mountain-top national park around 15-20 minutes from the villa, near the village of Villanueva de la Concepción. It’s known for it’s unusual limestone rock formations, reported to be some of the most beautiful and impressive in Europe.
Antequera park – Antequera, around 30 minutes from the villa is well worth a trip. It has an award winning play park (and a convenient cafe!) and was a huge hit with our two children.
Alhambra – The palace and fortress complex located in Granada is a UNESCO heritage site and only 1hr 30 from the villa. The gardens are stunning and the children loved exploring the water fountains and hidden pathways and the main palace (Nasrid Palace) has to be seen to be believed.
Malaga and the Coast – La Malagueta – A holiday in this part of the world wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the coast. There are a number of beaches in easy reach of the villa. We chose to visit La Malagueta and combined this with an early evening meal in the harbour.
Córdoba – Ok, so we didn’t technically visit Córdoba whilst staying at Dove Villa but we did spend 4 nights here beforehand. Its an easy 1hr 30 drive from the villa and boats more stunning moorish architecture as well as Andalucia’s first gastro-market (Victoria Market).
To sum up…
Yet another incredible family holiday…plenty of fun filled family memories (including our youngest walking for the first time!)
We loved exploring a beautiful part of Spain and it was wonderful to have a taste of ‘el campo’, country life in the hills north of Malaga. We rarely go back to the same place (there are so many places yet to explore!) but yet again Tots to Travel didn’t disappoint. We’ll certainly be logging back on when it comes to booking another holiday!
To book your own little slice of Spanish Paradise