Along the curves and swerves of Spain’s secret Galician coastline, the nights arrive so peacefully, even the chestnut trees fall asleep.
I wrote not long ago about my first impressions of Galicia: Spain’s most northwestern point.
A network of sleepy fishing villages, wild clifftops with lighthouses and jagged, ragged inland rias, a three day roadtrip here seemed to shine a gentle spotlight on an unknown part of Spain.
But one of the first casualties of exploring “off the beaten track” areas like this is often finding a decent place to stay.
As we pulled up outside El Castaño Dormilón, I’ll admit, my hopes were not that high.
A stone brick house on an unmarked road; trees crammed tight, their canopies like clouds.
I’d be lying if I didn’t briefly consider using those infamous words: Bates Motel.
How wrong a girl can be.
Inside this former village school, the rooms were awash with white and light. My suite at the top of the house bore skylights that seemed to reach and kiss the trees.
The name El Castaño Dormilón means sleeping chestnut, a term referring to the local saying and also the heavy presence of wood in this restored place of childhood learning.
It’s a rare place that can successfully marry minimalist chic with gnarly wooden beams, but owners Mónica and Alex pull it off and with aplomb.
They’re friendly and welcoming, yet know when to step back and allow their guests some privacy.
Mónica used to work in the arts magazine trade in Barcelona, on the other side of the coast, perhaps explaining her eye for artistic detail. A bold splash of colour here, a scroll of poetry there.
Rooms have different themes and colours, although all look as though they belong. The white suite on the top floor has a dressing area, desk and free wifi, jacuzzi jet bathroom with transparent walls to the rest of the room. Beyond the skylights, normal windows open up into the trees, creating the idea, I’m sure, that this is a luxury treehouse for grown-ups.
A Smegg kettle and teacups provide a morning pick-up before taking the lift downstairs.
The open spaces downstairs seem designed for reading, eating, or quiet contemplation.
Mónica and Alex serve up traditional Galician seafood: crusty bread and lemon-zested shellfish.
They also have a wonderful approach to dietary restrictions, a rare pleasure these days in the world of travel.
Thus rested, the next morning it was time to return to the pilgrimage and stride toward those lighthouses.
But it was hard to tear myself away from that sleeping chestnut tree.
And the peaceful sleep within.
Disclosure: I travelled to Galicia, Spain as part of a project between Captivate and the Spanish Tourist Board. As ever, as always I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise I lose that peaceful night’s sleep.