Spanish Lullaby

A hilltop hideaway in a rugged landscape proves the ideal blend of past and present

A 14th-century former monastery, 17th-century church, and 10 cubelike contemporary cottages occupy a ridge at Hotel Consolación.
A 14th-century former monastery, 17th-century church, and 10 cubelike contemporary cottages occupy a ridge at Hotel Consolación.

Sparsely inhabited and enduringly wild, the pine forests of northeastern Spain’s Teruel Province seem an unlikely place for a cutting-edge design hotel. Barcelona is a two-hour train ride away, and a rail connection to Madrid doesn’t even exist. Yet on the outskirts of the town of Monroyo sits Hotel Consolación, a striking anachronism that—despite, or perhaps because of, its contemporary influences—blends surprisingly well into the craggy terrain.

The hotel's Baroque guest room.
The hotel's Baroque guest room.

It helps that the hotel isn’t entirely of the present. When they purchased the property in 2003, owners Daniel Delgado and Ignacio Mas were drawn as much to the area’s history of isolation from the modern world and its potential for privacy as they were to the existing 14th-century hermitage—as well as the adjoining 17th-century church, which still serves area residents. (One look at the surrounding hillside and it’s apparent why the ascetics made this their refuge.)

Spanish Lullaby
An open fireplace in the Baroque room.
An open fireplace in the Baroque room.
Alvar Aalto lighting above a platform bed in the Nordic guest room.
Alvar Aalto lighting above a platform bed in the Nordic guest room.

So Delgado and Mas enlisted Spanish architects Estela Camprubí and Eugénia Santacana to preserve the relic while creating accommodations suitable for the 21st century in its shadow. The structure is now home to two minimalist guest rooms, installed in the spaces where the monastery’s inhabitants once slept. Spare but not spartan, the Nordic room features a clean white palette and Danish influences, including light fixtures designed by Alvar Aalto and midcentury-style wood armchairs and stools. The Baroque room is more dramatic, with moody indigo walls, gilt artwork, and an ornate chandelier above the bed that casts a warm glow reminiscent of candlelight. In both rooms, original wood beams make a rustic statement that continues in the structure’s public spaces: in a stone-walled lounge known as the garage, and in a restaurant dominated by cotton-draped Parsons tables, with walls papered in metal sheeting. There, Valencia-born chef Ruben Amorós prepares seasonal, locally sourced specialties that are as memorable as their setting.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The restaurant's almond-and-garlic soup. A lone pine rises from the landscape. Sardines and red pepper on toast—a quintessential Spanish appetizer. A midcentury-style seating area in the lounge known as the Garage.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT The restaurant's almond-and-garlic soup. A lone pine rises from the landscape. Sardines and red pepper on toast—a quintessential Spanish appetizer. A midcentury-style seating area in the lounge known as the Garage.

To complement the old-world atmosphere of the main building, Camprubí and Santacana expanded the hotel’s footprint just beyond a natural garden of fragrant rosemary and thyme, fashioning 10 freestanding cubes set into a neighboring cliff. Inspired by the work of Los Angeles modernist architect Craig Ellwood, the pair incorporated natural elements for an industrial look that brings the outdoors in. Black slate flooring and soaking tubs, platform beds, and fireplaces suspended from the ceiling add a sleek note to the guest rooms’ wood-clad exteriors. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide an unobstructed view of olive and almond trees for miles. Televisions are, of course, nowhere to be found.

The hotel's pool, which overlooks ancient olive, pine, and almond trees.
The hotel's pool, which overlooks ancient olive, pine, and almond trees.
A leather sofa beckons in the library.
A leather sofa beckons in the library.
Wood beams and terra-cotta tile in the Baroque room.
Wood beams and terra-cotta tile in the Baroque room.

Even the pool hews to the sylvan environs. Carved into the rock a short walk below the cube suites, the geometric opening has the feeling of a natural spring: quiet, calming, eternal. Basking in the sun, you’ll forget there’s another world out there. And that’s just how the people of Monroyo want it to stay.

Spanish Lullaby
Spanish Lullaby

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