Mi maravilloso viaje a Casa Rosalía para Castañeda Boutique Hotels
On behalf of Castañeda Boutique Hotels I was fortunate to be invited by Oleg Lazovski together with a fantastic group of Spanish,travel and gastronomic experts, for a 3 night stay at Casa Rosalía. It was off-season, in a quiet January in Brión, Galicia just after Three Kings Day. Castañeda Boutique Hotels is a recently formed entity to promote their portfolio of small scale hotels. I was wined and dined there and visited the portfolio and places that are attractive to their visitors, many of which lie on the Camino de Santiago. I’ve prepared a list of their hotels and places visited on Google Maps.
My followers will know that I’ve actually done most Caminos in Spain and Portugal, where there are 58 routes in total (only 12 are official routes)! I’ve often helped guide Groups of English speaking visitors from the USA, Canada, South Africa,UK,Sweden,Holland,Philippines inter alia. I’ve therefore stayed in an enormous variety of accommodations from Albergues to Paradors,to the good, the bad and the ugly ! So I was really looking forward to the weekend in Galicia and giving my unbiased and experienced opinion as a Camino de Santiago expert, Tourist and Gastronomic Blogger and Level 10 Google Maps Local Guide, on Castañeda Boutique Hotels portfolio.
Castañeda Boutique Hoteles has recently been formed by José Manuel Castañeda to consolidate his existing hotels under the same brand. The intention is to focus more on accommodating the discerning pilgrim or traveller looking for an alternative and up market stay while on the Camino de Santiago or visiting the local sights be it Muros on the coast or the capital of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela. The offer is high quality establishments a cut above what’s already available where the local gastronomy takes centre stage in strategically important and attractive locations. Most lie in the province of A Coruña within easy reach of Santiago de Compostela.
The new brand includes the gastronomic hotel Casa Rosalía, in the municipality of Brión, the origin of the chain. There’s the country houses of A Meixida and Pardal and the holiday apartments Luxury Marina, all in Padrón. La Casa da Roisa, in Rois, and the apartment, Casa da Roisa in Santiago de Compostela. All of these establishments are located in the province of La Coruña. However, the El Olivo boutique hotel in Caldas de Reis is in the province of Pontevedra which will soon be added together with other locations.
In addition, very admirably, they offer customers/pilgrims a pick up/drop off transfer service within a 30 kilometre radius. This means, for example, for tired pilgrims that don’t want to walk to the hotels, they can stop, preferably in a bar and wait to be picked up then dropped off the next day at the same point to restart their camino. They can also be transferred between hotel and Casa Rosalía to enjoy the gastronomic offer there. If you’re a pilgrim you will know that an occasional luxury like this really helps to make it such a memorable experience.
The jewel in the crown of their portfolio has to be the 30 bedroomed (capacity for 50 pax) Casa Rosalía. This was where I was to spend three cold and at times wet (yes it’s finally been raining a lot in Galicia after such a dry summer!) but exciting nights of my tour. This 250-year-old farmhouse dating back to the 18th Century has been converted into a fantastic rural hotel with historic charm located in Brión, only 10 km from the centre of Santiago de Compostela.
My stay was both relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable from the moment I checked in and opened the door to a spacious bedroom. Dinner in its quality a la carte restaurant on a quiet Saturday night was thoroughly enjoyable with tasty appetisers like mini ham croquettes, mussels in a vinaigrette sauce and a fish pate. The main dish was delicious fresh monkfish with a salad and boiled potatoes. Dessert was flan and a crepe (filloa in Galician). The food was washed down with an excellent albariño white wine (Señorío de Lazoiro from Bodegas Villanueva) and a superb red from Ribera del Duero (Cantaburros). That set the standard for the stay as we were spoilt with the best Galician cuisine can offer including octopus (pulpo a la feira), fried squid, seafood rice (arroz caldoso con marisco) and cocido (boiled meats especially pig and chorizo with vegetables like grelos (green turnip top leaves), cabbage, potatoes and chickpeas). Looking at the menu all the dishes were competitively priced.
The Hotel proved to have a quiet and cozy atmosphere and was nice and warm. I liked its tasteful decoration,the historic stone fireplace (a lareira) and the service was excellent throughout my stay. Like all the hotels I found the free wi-fi connection to be fast and reliable. Together with its proximity to the main tourist sights means it’s no surprise that Hotel Casa Rosalía is so popular (Customer Ratings : 4.5 Google Maps, 4.5 Tripadvisor & 9.3 Booking). In summer the outdoor swimming pool is open too. I note that pilgrims doing the Portuguese Way are picked up from their sister hotels in Padrón to eat here. Alternatively pilgrims in Negreira doing the first stage from Santiago to Finisterre/ Muxia, what was once thought to be the end of the world and the most westerly points in Europe, can call and be transferred to stay too given the lack of accommodation options in Negreira itself.
We had time in between visits to see one of the highlights of the whole Camino from Santiago to Finisterre/Muxia, the magnificent granite stone Maceira Bridge which dates back to the 13th Century and spans the equally impressive stretch of the River Tambre. The River level was pretty high so I could appreciate the power of mother nature as a few months before given the drought it was almost hidden amongst the dense bankside vegetation which had reclaimed it. On the village side you can also see a complex of historic old stone watermills which ground the corn to make flour. Additionally there is a striking,traditional Galician Manor House (Pazo) once frequented by Manuel Fraga, one of Galicia’s most famous, historical politicians (was President of the Galician Regional Government). And San Blas Chapel, a small Catholic 18th Century Church. The whole complex of stone buildings in the tiny village when seen in conjunction with the bridge, makes it such a beautiful place with one of the best settings in the whole of Spain.
The following morning we visited the charming Casa Da Roisa (4.5 Google Maps & 8.3 Booking). which is located in the village of O Barreiro (Rois Council area). It’s a typical Galician rural stone farmhouse built in 1890. On the ground floor it has a Galician kitchen, with its fireplace and wood stove, as well as a 19th Century living room called Ripeiras, with its beautiful period furniture. There’s a large dining room called Agro do Pouso. This room has a classic Galician oven in a rustic setting. Upstairs there’s a living and reading room, where we can access a large balcony, to observe the beautiful countryside. There are also three bedrooms (2 doubles, 1 with 2 single beds) called A Corredoira and A Fonte and their large bathroom, O Común, and the O Coverto suite, with its impressive carved mahogany furniture. Outside, it has large gardens as well as an outdoor gazebo to accommodate up to 12 people with a barbecue, several fountains, a beautiful and typical stone cross (cruceiro) as well as a swimming pool.
Although the Hotel’s location is quite remote, it’s close to a relatively new camino which runs from Muros to Santiago de Compostela (Camino de Santiago por la ría de Muros-Noia). It’s also only a short drive to the coast and the attractive villages of Muros and Noia with its beautiful estuary. The approach to Muros on the coastal road was very uplifting. The sea and mountain views were impressive. I was looking out across the estuary against an ever changing mountain backdrop with interludes of radiant sunny spells interspersed with a mysterious mist. We passed the wild, golden sandy beach at Esteiro. This is a popular place for the folk from Santiago as its beaches including at Noia are the nearest to Santiago. Many of its residents have their second homes there. We were shown a beautiful riverside walkway at the mouth of the River Maior with Esteiro estuary which also happens to be where the Camino passes on its way to Santiago. Muros itself is an attractive and historic fishing village. It’s a great place to see the traditional Galician architecture and its natural setting at the end of the estuary where it spreads out at the entrance to the open Atlantic Ocean. We noted its granite stone built arcades with balconies at first floor level that are typical of the houses facing the estuary, under which the fishing tackles were fixed and the fish was salted. The area between the Port, the attractive Town Hall and its square and its beautiful and small Old Town are worth exploring.
We then travelled to see the latest addition to the chain, Casa Das Bentinas (Customer Ratings : 4.8 Google Maps, 5 ! Tripadvisor & 9.5 Booking), a charming farmhouse in Bentín, just 5 minutes from the Portuguese Way before pilgrims get to Milladoiro and 6 kilometres from Santiago Cathedral. Again it’s of solid granite stone construction and traditional in appearance with a well preserved hórreo (traditional grain store) near its entrance.
Inside it’s been sensitively converted preserving its historic features with a striking reception area and 5 well proportioned bedrooms (4 double bedrooms with one adapted for the mobility impaired,1 with 2 single beds). The highlight of which is a double suite, all fully equipped including central heating and tastefully decorated. As there’s a lack of high quality accommodation on the Portuguese Way in the Padron and Milladoiro area this small, rural Hotel is a good option for the discerning pilgrim looking to split into two the long 25+ km final stage from Padrón to Santiago.
Then it was on to see Casa da Meixada which is located between Padrón and Escravitude (4.5 Google Maps, 4.5 Tripadvisor & 8.8 Booking). Yet another sensitively converted farmhouse with 5 bedrooms (3 double bedrooms 2 with 2 single beds) and quality fixtures and fittings close to the Portuguese Way. It’s popular with pilgrims especially as the town of Padrón is often full in peak months. They also have apartments in the Old Town of Padrón. Marina Luxury was only recently inaugurated in April 2022.It’s an apartment complex which is modern and elegant situated in a pedestrian area of the town where three are shops, supermarkets, cafeterias, restaurants, etc. and is only 50 metres from the Portuguese Way. Each apartment consists of a room for two people with a full bathroom, living room, fully equipped, 60-inch flat TV screen, oven, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, toaster, hair dryer and a convertible sofa-bed to accommodate an extra person. A continental and buffet breakfast is also offered every morning in the apartment.
Then it was off to visit Padrón for a quick, guided tour in Spanish with friendly and official Guide Alberto Rey. Padrón is the most symbolic place on the Camino de Santiago after Santiago Cathedral itself. Legend says that Santiaguiño Hill is where Santiago used to preach (34-42 A.D). In addition, it’s from the River Sar where disciples of Saint James (Santiago) disembarked with his remains in the Year 42. Santiago Church, which dates back to the 14th century, has the stone (El Pedrón) that Santiago’s boat was moored to. In addition, Colegiata de Santa Maria Iria Flavia is one of oldest churches in Galicia and it’s here that the Bishop of Iria unveiled the news about the discovery of the his tomb on 25 July 813. The 12th Century Codex Calixtinus (first ever travel guidebook!) refers to Santiago de Compostela’s only exit gate, Porta Falquiera to Padrón. Padrón has lots more to see like Carmen’s fountain from the 16th Century and striking hillside Convent. There’s its tree lined boulevard (Planes) which greets pilgrims called O Espolón together with its 1 hectare botanical garden.
Padrón has an important literary history associated with famous local figures including Macias O Namorado, José Cela and Rosalia de Castro, Galicia’s famous poet and the town has a Museum all about her contribution to the Galician Language. I was taken on a circuit which helps to explain the main places in her life including the beautiful 16th Century San Xulián de Bastavales Church. The bell tower, which was erected later in 1782, houses some of the most famous bells (installed in 1828) in Galicia, which Rosalía mentions in Cantares Gallegos. The town is also famous for its “Pimientos de Padrón ”, lightly fried green peppers in extra virgin olive oil served with a sprinkle of sea salt. Some are hot and spicy, most not !
No trip to the area is complete without a visit to the majestic UNESCO world heritage city, Santiago de Compostela which is within easy reach of all the featured hotels and places of interest. Its Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the wonders of the world along with its Old Town and maze of ancient streets. Pilgrims and tourists from all over the world marvel about its religious monuments and significance as a world pilgrimage centre. It’s also renowned for its delicious gastronomy. A lesser known fact is its historic relationship since the 12th Century with the land of Ribeiro whose capital is Ribadavia (Ourense) where the the monks from San Martiño de Pinario Monastery planted vines and made wines which was transported by wine carriers (arrieiros) to Santiago. Another historic camino which is in the process of being resurrected !
Overall an amazing stay (Check out my Video below!) and nothing to complain about, not even the weather as the local mists added to the charm. José Manuel Castañeda and his team are building upon what is already a successful operation given the previous high ratings. The objective is to continue on this road of consistency, maintaining the high standards set, which is no easy feat. Given the founder’s impressive CV and commitment to his job and portfolio over many years, the future looks safe and bright, more awards and star ratings are surely to follow.