48 Hours in the Coast's Best Kept Secret

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I can scarcely believe I am about to do this but, here goes - I am about to share the best kept secret on the Coast. When asking the question about which location would be ideal for a romantic getaway that doesn't involve air travel and is less than two hours from Marbella, the name Vejer de la Frontera kept popping up.

Therefore I decided to visit and investigate what all the fuss is about. When you approach the town it is perfectly manicured and downright gorgeous. Located in  Cádiz province, Vejer de la Frontera is one of the area's most spectacular sites, thanks to its geographical location, not to mention its history.

Visiting this special place is like taking a trip back to the past of southern Spanish society. The historic centre consists of characterful cobblestone streets and is virtually free of cars, with the sole exception of the local residents who will sometimes be seen driving their vehicles through the streets in a slightly erratic manner, so beware.

I would recommend that you park your car as you arrive in the town or you might end up in a narrow cul-de-sac from which it can be difficult to extract yourself. We managed to find a suitable space and wheeled our luggage through the winding cobbled streets to Hotel V, which is small luxury boutique hotel that has been beautifully restored from a 17th century manor house and is located in the town centre. As soon as you enter you can sense a rich history, teamed with some modern twists.

Keen to see more of the town we left our luggage and started exploring.

Our first stop was Las Delicias, a refurbished theatre with the funkiest of vibes. Upcycled crates used as décor, vertical plant walls and hanging light bulbs, cool background music playing. Why had we not visited before? After a glass of wine and a starter we decided to try another place that was recommended by the hotel.

Vina Y Mar was tiny and quaint, with one of the smallest kitchens I have ever seen, but with the biggest wine and sherry selection from the region. Ramón, who served us enthusiastically and knowledgeably, described the daily specials and recommended the local sherries with a particular passion. This place is definitely worth a visit if if you are into interesting menus with a twist. Beetroot bread anyone? Exhausted from the drive we decided to have an early night as we had a full day of exploration ahead.

Our morning started with a 9am yoga session conducted by the lovely Jana Doss and, as it was so windy, this was held in the reservoir, 20 meters below ground. On arriving back at our room, breakfast was served and consisted of tasty local produce and a well deserved cup of tea.

As we began to explore the town, I couldn't help but notice all the amazing, tiny speciality shops. Ajonjoli sold olive oils, authentic home baked breads, Spanish cookies and some very interesting selected products.

Eclectica Deco was a small décor shop with cool home accessories, including pink flamingoes, cactuses, ceramics and more. This turned out to be heaven for a foodie and props addict like me! Kombucheria sold artisanal, local and organic products, including kombucha. What was all of this doing here? And why, in my 10 years of living in Spain, had I never been? It was as is these places had ripped a page out of the style magazine, Wallpaper and decided to create the most amazing little spaces that ooze cool and are usually found only in big cities.

I received an insider tip that a restaurant had opened only two weeks previously, and was run by two sisters who had spent a lot of time in Mexico. As major lover of Mexican food this place had to be put to the test. Again, the décor was cool, the menu small but perfectly formed and everything that we ate was out of this world. I will be day dreaming about the Patatas Bravas for years to come, as they were the best I have ever tasted.

After a full day of walking we headed back to the hotel, where an ayurvedic massage was awaiting. Pacci was fantastic and I must say it is the first time I have had my whole face massaged - plus places on my body I scarcely knew existed! All in all, just what the doctor ordered after a long day.

Invigorated and rested, it was time for dinner and we decided to try out Jardin de Califa - a Moroccan inspired restaurant that has been included in the Michelin Guide for a number of years running. Priding itself on local produce, seasonality and choosing organic products whenever possible, this place did not disappoint. It also had many vegetarian and vegan options, even gluten free bread.

One common denominator stood out over the weekend and that was how proud every single vendor was of their produce and their method for sourcing it whether it be a 30 year-old sherry, a specific dish or even the colourful tiles that covered the floors of most places we visited.

If you are looking for an authentic culinary experience combined with history and a sprinkle of funk, with an über cool vibe, then Fronter de La Vejer is the place to go. It's perfect for a romantic getaway, but equally suitable as a family friendly destination.

 
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