In Granada’s southern hinterland, you’ll find the lush Valle de Lecrín. In the middle of it is the Garden of lemons, which consists of a finca and town house. Here you can invite family and friends for a luxurious country stay in beautiful nature.
I wake to the sound of birdsong, periodically accompanied by small rapid bumps. As I trip out onto the first-floor balcony where the rooms are, to watch the morning sun peek out over the valley, I find that the little bumps are the sound of a lemon as it falls from its tree and hits the ground. Otherwise, it’s completely quiet.
I’ve been sleeping alone in one of the three bedrooms at the Garden of lemons finca, Jardín de los limones (lemon garden) on one of those rare spring days when the finca isn’t full of guests. For most of the year, the finca is rented out to families and friends celebrating anniversaries or just wanting to relax, businesses and various students attending one of the many courses held on site, including yoga, writing and painting courses.
As I stand on the top floor balcony of the finca, enjoying the morning view of the valley, lemon, orange and olive groves and Sierra Nevarra in the background, I understand why the owners, Henrik and Ingo, have left Denmark and settled here. The finca is located in the small village of Melegís, in the unspoilt countryside of Valle de Lecrín, where tourists rarely pass.
In my bathroom, I can stand under the shower and enjoy the view of ripe lemons hanging heavily from a tree.
Decorated with a sense of quality and love for art
The first thing that struck me when I walked through the door of the finca was Henrik and Ingo’s exceptional sense of decor and aesthetics. The finca is newly built and constructed on top of an old “cortijo” (typical Spanish farmhouse) and looks beautiful with its white facade and dark wooden shutters.
The couple, who both gave up their music careers in Denmark to move to Spain, have a great love of art, design and not least antiques from France in particular. Each room has been decorated with great care and exudes personality and a confident sense of style, giving the place a very special atmosphere. And there’s plenty of light and clean lines, just how we like it in the Nordic countries. Far from an anonymous holiday home, it feels like being invited into a private home.
On the ground floor, the large living room has a large grand piano in the centre. The sofa corner is in front of the fireplace, and the dining area is close to the kitchen, which is an extension of the living room. The couple bring the theme of nature inside everywhere, and you’ll find oranges and lemons beautifully displayed on tables among ceramics and silverware.
So on days when the weather’s bad and you can’t eat and socialise outside, you’ll find the most delightful indoor living space, with plenty of room for friends and/or family.
Space for both activities and fun
In addition to the three double rooms, there is also a small annex off the finca, which can sleep a couple of teenagers. But even if the house is full with eight people, there’s still plenty of room for alone time.
The grounds are large, and Henrik and Ingo have arranged small cosy corners, both around the pool, the orangery and lots of other small places. As everywhere else, the couple has of course taken care of the senses in all the cosy corners, either with decorations from nature or simply by placing a chair strategically so that you get the most beautiful view in your little cave.
Henrik and Ingo also take advantage of the good space, so they often host larger groups of students, who then stay both at the finca, in the town house and in hotels in the nearby village. The newly built orangery has recently been used as a studio for painting course participants, and many more will certainly come here in the future.
El limón town house
Garden of lemons also consists of a small town house, El limón (the lemon), which Henrik and Ingo live in. The house is located in the charming village of Chite with whitewashed houses a few kilometres from the finca. However, the couple are happy to rent out their home to guests who wish to stay there. This gesture confirms the enormous openness and warm welcome and treatment they both give me during my visit.
The couple’s sense of design and aesthetics also shines through in the 185 square metre two-storey house. The house is fully renovated, bright and with a lovely mix of modern furniture, antiques and art on the walls.
Local craftsmanship and quality furniture
As in Jardín de los limones, there are plenty of Danish, French and Spanish touches in the form of modern and antique furniture as well as art on the walls and ceramics.
The hall of the town house is dominated by a beautiful staircase leading up to the first floor. The staircase and kitchen are made by local craftsmen, and Henrik and Ingo have carefully selected the best materials for the house.
The hallway looks onto a small patio and gives access to the bedrooms and guest toilet.
On the upper level, there is a lovely whitewashed roof terrace with both an organically shaped pool and the opportunity to dine and socialise outside.
The house is located high in the town, so from the terrace there are the most beautiful views over the valley with the Alpujarras mountains in the background.
Space for immersion
The town house – of course – doesn’t have as large a plot as the finca, but Henrik and Ingo have made sure that there are small cosy corners in the house where you can sit in peace and quiet and read a book or just relax.
Delicious food on the plates
When you stay at Garden of Lemons, you can choose whether you want to buy catering or cook for yourself. You can even choose to cook with Henrik, the Garden of Lemons chef.
Henrik is not just a good cook with a great passion for food. The couple’s own crops are usually the main ingredients in the dishes, and he ensures that both the good taste and aesthetics that characterise the whole place also find their way to the rustic dishes on the plates.
While I was visiting, Henrik made a simple but very tasty pasta dish with sage and freshly grated lemon for lunch.
The evening menu, which we enjoyed in the company of some of the couple’s friends, featured a range of delicious Andalusian dishes with an Arabic twist.
Henrik has had a passion for food for years, and he shares his recipes on his blog and is currently working on publishing a cookbook. If you want to spoil yourself, I can definitely recommend you to let him do the cooking while you enjoy the sun and the area.
Take a bite of Garden of lemons home
Henrik and Ingo make both olive oil and marmalades from lemons and oranges of their own cultivation. I tasted both the olive oil and the lemon marmalade. Both were intense and fresh in flavour and of a quality far beyond the mass-produced products you can buy anywhere in Spain. So be sure to bring home a jar of jam from your holiday.
Discover the villages of the Lecrín Valley
Valle de Lecrín lies on the south-western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and here are charming, villages which are well worth visiting. A car is a must when staying at Garden of lemons. The car offers great freedom to explore the beautiful scenery of the Lecrín Valley and visit some of the small villages.
While Henrik was in the kitchen, Ingo and I drove to the centre of the village, Melegís, which the finca is on the outskirts of. The village has only about 400 inhabitants and – of course – a few bars where you can enjoy a tapa and a glass of wine.
Melegís was an important city in the 15th century, when it was briefly the capital of the Kingdom of Granada under the Moors.
In the 18th century, Melegís was inhabited by nobles and people with political influence, and you can still find some of the families’ coats of arms on the houses.
The town’s small church is also worth a visit. It is built in a mixture of mudejar and renaissance style and dates from 1560. In addition, it is nice just to walk around the quiet streets with small shady corners and squares.
Of course, you should also take a walk in the village of Chite, where the town house is located. If you want to visit other villages in the area or go hiking, Ingo and Henrik will be happy to give you tips.
Excursion to Granada
Granada is only about half an hour’s drive from the Garden of Lemons, so it’s an obvious place to visit – and not least – Spain’s most famous attraction, the Alhambra.
While Henrik nursed the crops at home on the finca, Ingo and I went to Granada. The rain is pouring down, but that doesn’t stop us from strolling around the city streets. Even on a rainy and grey day, Granada’s cobbled streets and beautiful buildings are a delight.
We passed the cathedral, some of the city’s main squares and the silk market before making the ascent through Granada’s Arab quarter, Albayzin. At the top, at the Mirador de San Nicolas, we enjoyed the fantastic view of the Alhambra, which we did not have time to visit.
Prices at Garden of lemons vary depending on the type of stay you want and in which of the houses. You can rent the houses individually or together. You can contact Garden of lemons via their website
10% discount for Spain by Hanne readers
Garden of lemons gives you 10% discount on a stay in either the finca or the townhouse. Tell them you’ve read this article when you book and the discount will be deducted.