Last weekend I finally got in to see the wonderful gardens of Casa de los Bates in Motril. I had been meaning to visit for years. Ignaki met me and showed me around the splendid house which operates as a small but special hotel. Seven bedrooms, the kind of personal service and attention to detail that hotels used to offer as standard.
But, of course, it was the splendid gardens that i wanted to see most. It took four years for Ignaki, his mother and brothers to renovate house and gardens after they bought the place in 1994. Hard work, but it has paid off. The gardens are glorious. Many of the plants and trees first arrived at the coastal port of Motril centuries ago from Cuba and North America. The water gardens are reminiscent of those at the much more famous Generalife at the Alhambra Palace. It's my sort of garden. Allowed to be itself and not over formal. Lots of nooks and crannies. A gorgeous grotto. There's something to discover and admire around every corner.
The XIX century house itself is of Cuban influence but originally that was only the hunting lodge.
The work goes on to bring the gardens back to their former glory. Where the former bigger palace stood, facing the house, a new construction is underway. It will be built in a style sympathetic to the original palace. It will be the venue for the many weddings that already take place at Casa de los Bates.
I had always believed that the name came from bats (i.e. the house of bats), but the owners tell me it may have actually been named after an English gardener who worked there many years ago. His names was Mr. Bates. As long as nobody is sure about the origins of the name, i will stick with the House of Bats. I can well believe they flew among the high palms and chirimoyas that surround the house. And, come dusk, they still do.
To walk the gardens by yourself will cost 3 euros per person. For a guided tour the charge is 6 Euros (Ignaki is worth every penny as a guide). But to truly enjoy the tranquility and splendour of the place, why not have dinner in the restaurant or stay in one of the comfortable rooms. You can see the house from the coastal road that runs between Salobreña and Motril. Yet, despite how close it is to the beaches of Playa Granada, the house and gardens are so quiet you could hear a bat fly. Indeed i feel sure that, soon after watching a super sunset from the grounds, i heard exactly that.