There must be a mistake on the GPS, we thought, as we drove off paved streets and onto a dirt road that seemed to lead nowhere. Our mini Fiat Panda felt every rock and dip and I was certain we had taken a wrong turn sometime in the last hour. However, we continued driving anyway and arrived at this charming handwritten sign for Arriadh Hotel, our blind faith in Google Maps newly reaffirmed.
Run by two friendly Dutch expats, Wilbert and John, Arriadh Hotel is a freshly remodeled home-turned-boutique-hotel surrounded by mountain scenery and views as far as the eye can see. We were welcomed with an informal check-in, a handwritten note in our room, and a glass of wine in the living room where fellow guests were reading, chatting, and relaxing in the sunny Andalusian afternoon.
Our short stay at the Arriadh felt like visiting the home of a long lost friend. Wilbert and John were friendly, conversational, and full of recommendations that they were eager to share with their guests. We took their advice and went to Taberna Manolo in Arriate for dinner with one of our fellow guests, a Canadian teacher who was unwinding from a whirlwind excursion all over Spain with a spirited group of students.
We arrived a bit after 9 and typical of Spanish hours, the main street was still quiet and the sun was still lingering. Manolo, the namesake of Manolo's, was warm and genial, bringing us all of the specials from the kitchen that evening. We didn't even glance at the menu before an array of Spanish dishes with a touch of fusion landed on our small table. As we ate, more locals emerged and filled the streets and bar with the sounds of a life well lived. It was the perfect atmosphere for our last night in Spain; a warm summer night, cozy neighborhood restaurant, travel-filled conversation with another adventurous soul, and delectable dishes made with love and some pretty tasty spices.
It was short but sweet stay. The next morning, we had a flight to catch at Malaga Airport and Wilbert and John prepared a breakfast for us ahead of our early departure so we wouldn't miss our flight. I was trying to linger as long as possible to catch the gorgeous morning sun as it rose over the property. I'm sure you can see why.