Rustic-chic chillout retreat in wildest Andalucia

FOUNTAINHEAD IS JUST THE PLACE to trade the crowds of the costas for the magic of the mountains. This Andalucian hillside hideaway with shades of ethnic chic is just made for us-time.

Fountainhead looks out onto wildest Andalucia. This is a chillout destination made for away-from-it-all recharging and relaxation. We stepped out of our car  to breathe in the crisp mountain air scented with wild fennel, gazing out at utterly peaceful hillsides covered in almond and olive trees, with the craggy Sierra de Caramolos mountains rising behind. Only the tinkle of goat bells and the chirrup of crickets in the afternoon sun broke the stillness.

Four very private suites and a terrific restaurant make up this little mountainside nirvana. Each casita-style suite has mile-wide mountain views, colourful decor, and a private plunge pool where you can skinny-dip or get an all-over tan.

Hit the spot

40 minutes from Malaga, near the white village of Riogordo.

Choose one of four themed suites: we loved the bold sunshine shades of Arizona, with its primitive art and round jacuzzi bath. 

Be savvy
The last 2km  is a rustic track – but the views are worth it.

Be smitten
Away-from-it-all hillside hideout.

The suite life

Eclectic interiors mix shades of ethnic charm. Each has its own private plunge pool, sun loungers and a terrace for eat-as-you-please alfresco dining.

Inside, you’ll find a kingsize bed, sofa, whirring Casablanca fans, a CD player – even binoculars for watching the wildlife – and mini kitchen. Exotic fabrics – silks, satins and voiles – add to the theatrical vibe, while mosaic tiled bathrooms with fluffy cotton robes are screened from the bedroom area. There’s even a log stove for nippy nights in the mountains.

The Sultan suite is done out in Ottoman style silks and damasks  with splashes of turquoise and gold. Indian carries the Asian theme further with carved wooden doors and ethnic pieces. Oriental has a striking scarlet and black canopied bed and chaise longue, while Arizona – our favourite – has its own jacuzzi bath.

Don’t expect TVs, mobile phones, techno-tricks and internet on tap here – Fountainhead is made for simple, away-from-it-all getaways. You’ll be left alone with everything you need,  while your hosts are on hand if you need them. It’s a place to be at one with nature – and go au naturel if you like.

Rustle up eats as the fancy takes you. You’ll find a well-stocked fridge loaded with Cava, local hams and manchego cheese, home made jam and fruit, and a basket of warm bread and croissants arrives at your door each morning. Just brew the coffee, pour the juice or mix a sangria according to your whim.

For yet more unwinding, book a massage and float in the huge bath of the darkly embracing Bathhouse. Book a face treatment or have the rest of you scrubbed, seaweed-wrapped and buffed with Fountainhead's own body products for the ultimate wind-down.

Fountainhead’s intimate restaurant has won plaudits galore, and is one of Andalucia's gastro destinations. Mediterranean inspired dishes use local organic produce and olive oil from the hotel’s own olive crop, and there’s an intimate corner bar for pre-dinner drinks.  If you can’t be bothered to leave your quarters, in-suite dining can be arranged.

This is a place to wind down and do as little as possible. But if you’ve got itchy feet, you’re just half an hour from the sea and an hour from the historic city of Granada.

Fountainhead was reviewed for Room for Romance by Sian Davies

Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.

Dining in
Its walls lined with owner Peter's culinary paintings,  Fountainhead’s restaurant serves outstanding modern European cooking.  Olives, almonds and veggies are harvested in the hotel’s own gardens and almost everything on your plate is organic, local and seasonal. Enjoy local game, lamb and fresh-landed fish cooked with olives, capers and lemon – all complemented by an impressive wine list. And if you just want something simple, that's fine too.

There’s also a traiteur (deli) menu on offer during the day, with warm crusty bread and local tapas.

Dining out

Try the tapas of Serrano ham and sherry at Andalucia’s oldest inn, a 30 minute drive into the mountains. A 20 minute drive takes you to Lake Vinuela, where you can tuck into local embutidos – sausages – and a cold beer, while 40 minutes gets you to the sands at Torre del Mar for fresh grilled sardines at a little beachfront  chiringuito.


Fountainhead Restaurant.

What’s cooking?

Owner-chef Helen Bartlett’s puts her own inventive spin on Mediterranean cooking. The results are outstanding. – we loved our langoustine broth with lemon grass and ginger, grilled sea bass with sweet pepper confit and assiette of desserts.

Top table?

Facing the mountains for those sunset vistas.

See & Do

You’ll probably opt to soak up the rays with a good book next to your plunge pool, but there’s plenty to do here if you choose.

Wander through unspoilt Riogordo – on the old olive oil and grape trail – where village life is just as it used to be. Go mountain hiking in an area of outstanding natural beauty where eagles and wild orchids are commonplace, or explore the terrain on horseback. Drive to the hilltop village of Camares, with its stunning mountain vistas. 

Further afield, you’re an hour from the wonderful Alhambra palaces of Granada, and even less from the beaches near Malaga. The city has a castle and a Picasso museum if you don’t want to get sand in your shoes.


Pop into the deli overlooking Lake Vinuela for great local produce. Malaga has a great central food market as well as a Sunday flea market. And do buy some of Fountainhead's own-brand body products and olive oil to take home.

Wind down in Fountainhead's intimate Bath House, where all products are 100% natural and organic. You can float in mineral-rich Dead Sea salts and essential oils, or book an aloe vera facial treatment, massage, seaweed body wrap, or  brown sugar body buff. The candlelit Dead Sea salt bath should float away those tensions.

After dark
Riogordo has some lively village bars, though for nightlife proper you’ll need to head for the costas. But we think you'll simply want to sit on your sunset-facing terrace, crack open a bottle of well chilled local vino and count the stars.

Riogordo’s El Paso passion play is one of Andalucia’s most famous.

Count the castanets at the World Dance festival in Malaga.

Riogordo stages its own fiesta in mid August.

Partido del Rio El Terral, Riogordo, Malaga 29180

There is free guest parking, and you’ll need a car if you plan to explore.

Malaga central – 40km

Roughly EUR 70 from both the station and airport.

Malaga – 50km

Rooms and suites

Four individual suites

Special features
All have exotic decor, a private terrace garden with plunge pool and stunning views.

Look out for the well-stocked fridge, CDs, scented candles, fresh flowers and binoculars for watching wildlife.


Rates guide

From EUR 225


Generally closed mid November - mid February.




Minimum night stay?
2 nights at weekends

Have breakfast as late as you like. You’ll find a well stocked fridge and fresh bread and pastries are delivered to your door.

Room service

Available any time on request



Air conditioning
No – but you're up in the hills here. Rooms are cooled by ceiling fans.

Wedding license?

No – but you can hold a wedding party here for up to 120 guests

Eco conscience

The hotel uses organic and home grown produce as much as possible, solar panels for hot water, and eco low-energy heating panels in winter.


Room for Romance Extra

A complimentary bottle of Cava.



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