This place is a real find – an impeccable, upscale boutique guesthouse where the cool, clean minimalist lines of the Swedish aesthetic meet the warmth and charm of historic Andalucia.
Casa Shelly, created by owners Chris & Javier, is a stylish 7 guestroom home-from-home for visitors looking for smart, elegant accommodation in the ever-popular Spanish town of Vejer de la Frontera. It’s also ideally presented for private vacations – available for rental in its entirety, fully serviced as a boutique hotel.
Casa Shelly is in Vejer’s old town, within the medieval walls of the original Al Andalus citadel. It is found on the pedestrian street ‘Eduardo Shelly’, within a few minutes’ walk of the town’s picturesque main square.
Vejer is undoubtedly a foodie destination, renowned for its bars and restaurants serving high quality local produce in creative ways. There are plenty of nearby places, within walking distance to enjoy drinks and bites in traditional or contemporary settings.
Parking is a little tricky in these ancient Andalusian towns, so it is best to leave your car in one of the public car parks as you enter Vejer, and then take a taxi closer to the hotel, or simply walk. Chris, the host, is happy to meet guests and help them navigate through the beautiful streets to Casa Shelly.
As historic hilltop town of labyrinthine narrow streets and white-washed homes tightly clustered together, their balconies decorated with geraniums in terracotta pots, Vejer de la Frontera looks and feels like the quintessential Andalusian town. Add-in an internationally recognised food scene, the adjacent unspoilt beaches of the Coast of Light (Costa de la Luz), and the expansive pine forests and pastoral landscape of Cadiz province and you have a seductive holiday destination.
Despite it feeling gloriously isolated from modern life, surrounded by countryside and close to an undeveloped coast, Vejer is relatively easy to get to from the rest of Europe. Gibraltar, about 80 minutes’ drive to the south, offers a good choice of international flights, whilst the regional airport of the city of Jerez, famous for its sherry wine industry, is less than an hour away and has routes with low cost carriers. Seville, Andalucía’s capital is a little more than an hour and a half away, whilst Malaga Airport, Spain 4th biggest international hub is 2 hours to the east.
The Costa de la Luz is the beginning of Andalucía’s western Atlantic coast, acclaimed for its world-class blue fin tuna, caught annually in the artisan ‘Almadraba’ fishing season. In the last decade or so, I have seen Vejer truly come into its own, attracting international attention in the lifestyle and travel media.
I found that Casa Shelly offers the luxury of stylish surroundings yet with a friendly, boutique guesthouse feel. It’s a historic Andalusian house, with authentic features, lots of character and bespoke interiors.
As one approaches the property down the cobbled street, the house captures one’s imagination with its wrought iron balconies, traditional exterior window blinds of woven ‘esparto’ grass, and it’s characterful, worn wooden door with iron studs.
Once a dilapidated and neglected house, Casa Shelly has now once again regained its elegance and prestige. Inside the renovations have created a fusion of old world charm, (with arches, timber & tile ceilings, wooden shuttered windows and authentic ceramic floors) with clean, uncluttered spaces with new blond oak woodwork, pared-down décor and classic furniture of muted tones. Reclaimed and new materials combine to make for a fresh, clean ‘look and feel’ that retains the character of this once palatial family home.
Welcome & Check-in
As one might expect in a boutique guest house, as a visitor you are received as an expected and appreciated house guest – a style so often missing in larger properties. Chris, originally from Sweden, but a resident of Spain for over 20 years, has an understated, genuine style, offering a warm welcome.
I was in number 6, one of 7 individually styled guest rooms. 6 is at the front of the house, over-looking the pedestrian street. It is simply decorated – making the most of the high ceilings and natural light, offering a sensation of space, and has two floor to ceiling windows that open onto small balconies big enough to hold terracotta pots. The sound of the nearby church bells add to the village atmosphere (thankfully though the bells stop ringing at midnight and are still until the following morning, providing a natural alarm clock!)
The bed was superb – really comfy and made up with good quality linens. The bathroom was open plan, at the end of the room, yet set back around a corner. The W.C was separate. No bath tub but a large walk-in shower, as well as a double width wash basin. Quality body and hair products, thick bath and hand towels, hairdryer, tissues etc. completed the amenities. No facecloths, and no robe or slippers which I would like to have seen in a room of this quality and price point.
There is no air-conditioning, but in my experience this is not necessary in these types of historic properties, with thick walls, shaded by adjacent houses – the overhead ceiling fan should be more than sufficient for summer and personally I prefer a fan than artificially cooled air.
The heated towel rail was a nice touch, as was the underfloor heating which will be a welcome luxury once winter arrives in Andalucia. Despite the sunny days in southern Spain, at 200 metres elevation, Vejer can certainly be nippy for a few months a year.
Additional Egyptian cotton towels are provided for the beach, the best being the nearby El Palmar some 15 minutes’ drive away.
There is a double wardrobe with safe big enough for PC and tablet.
Complimentary water was provided.
I managed to have a look at a few other rooms. There is a ground floor room better suited to people with limited mobility or disabilities.
Two other rooms had small private terraces with seating, although the inside space was a little more limited. As is common in historic properties, each room was subtly different in layout and size reflecting its position in the house – abut all shared the muted, pared-back décor aesthetic.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property.
The rest of the Property
On the ground floor, the entrance opens out into the central patio courtyard which now benefits from a glass roof, bringing the space into the house – it is furnished as a lobby lounge with sofa and chairs.
The adjacent salon is more intimate with a fireplace. Since I visited during the property’s ‘soft opening’ a few details like coffee table books, magazines and other more personal touches were still being added to complete the ‘look’ of the property.
Taking the stairs down to the rear of the property, there is a kitchen room and outside patio terrace with charming fountain and fruit trees – a perfect place for enjoying a drink or morning breakfast.
An honour bar is planned, allowing guests to help themselves to local Andalusian and Spanish’s wines and other refreshments.
The house also boasts a roof terrace – a place to enjoy the Andalusian sunshine, offering views out across the town’s roof tops and towards the wetlands of Barbate and the coast.
Children over 15 are welcome, but pets can’t be accommodated.
Rooms start at 100 euro in low season, rising to about 140 euro in high season.
Address: Eduardo Shelly 6, Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain
Tel: +34 639 118 831