The story may sound familiar, but it is new.
You visit somewhere and you fall in love.
And you never want to leave, and not only this; you want everyone to be able to fall in love with this somewhere. And suddenly (a long suddenly lasting some four years) there it is: a different hotel, a restaurant with food the way it should taste, a breathtaking and dramatic landscape (OK;that was always there!), and a host of secret places just waiting to be discovered.
Do you dare to discover it too?
Monroyo, or Mont-Roig de Tastavins if you prefer is situated at some 857 metres above sea level in the heart of the Matarraña region; a place that is still difficult to pin point on a map. The town itself, of scarcely 400 inhabitants, does not have the majestic feel of La Fresneda, Valderrobres, Beceite or Calaceite, the more well known towns in the area. It’s charm lies instead in the harmony of its natural landscapes, pine forests, almond and olive groves all of which are bathed in a light which has been captured by many an artist over the years.
Passing by Monroyo in the future and not stopping will not be so easy from now on. The frequent pit stops to buy a cured ham, wild mushrooms or even truffles, when in season, can now be enjoyed at a leisurely pace by staying in a new and somewhat singular hotel built on the outskirts of the town, just beside the Ermita of the Consolación.
What immediately springs to mind when thinking of the hotel, which has taken it’s name from the Ermita itself, is its proximity to the natural surroundings. It would not make any real sense to drive all the way to Monroyo and close one’s self up within four walls. Not even in those harsher winter days. That is why there are only three walls in the rooms here. The fourth has been replaced in each case by a large window and terrace overlooking the sunset, the view of which is only interrupted by the soft pine covered mountains. No other building in sight. Absolute privacy and the feeling that the views belong only to you.
The kitchen and the restaurant delight in gastronomic gratification. The kitchen, which is normally off-limits in any normal hotel, is the place where everyone meets in Consolación. It is open all hours and there are always refreshments and snacks on offer for the guests to avail of. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in the old barn which has been converted into a dining room of stone, steel, wood and glass. The dishes take their inspiration from products local to the Matarraña region and use only produce in season where possible. They are no-nonsense contemporary dishes that would sit well on any menu which marries tradition and innovation.
The bedrooms to start with are not actually bedrooms but individual kubes, fronted with natural pine and placed on a cliff edge- the access to the kubes is via a natural garden carpeted with rosemary and thyme. The kubes are 36 metres squared each of simply lined minimalism. The floor is of black slate and the bathtub sunken within the floor itself. There is separate bathroom with rain shower. A chimney is suspended from the ceiling and an armchair and reading light for your novel of choice.
The sky itself is another gift for the quiet observer at Consolación. At night, especially without moonlight, the backbone of the Via Láctea. During the day it offers a palette of colours ranging from blues to oranges. From the lawn or while lazing in the hammock by the pool gaze upon a balcony of water integrated into the rock face; a scene that David Hockney might have liked to paint.
Once inside it is not easy to leave Consolación. A multi media room which they call the playground, a den room with open fire re-christened the garage and the library also with open fire is simply the library. Either one of these rooms tempt us to linger while sleep slowly rests upon our shoulders.
If you really have to leave Consolación at all, nothing better than the famous Camino of Santiago which passes right by the door of the Ermita on the stretch of the route leading from Tortosa to Zaragoza. Of course there are many other “caminos” or routes available which can be enjoyed by walkers, cyclists, hunters or painters. Many of these routes lead you to the Matarraña river and onto natural stone ridges which allow you to walk even further into the gorge. Other routes end in caves filled with pre-historic paintings which are now designated world heritage sites.
The Matarraña, despite its captivating beauty, has not had it easy. It is situated on the border between Aragón and Cataluña. It is a bi-lingual land, an agricultural land with a difficult geographic make up. This geography has meant that people have lived on narrow twisting roads far from everywhere and still do in their majority today.
The amber stoned palaces, castles and churches hint at a past filled with knights templar, Jews, Moors, Christians, inquisitions and feudalism, which in many ways, has not entirely disappeared. The fact is that time; and this is another secret you will discover if you go to Consolación, time goes by much more slowly.
For booking + info: Hotel Consolación ∗