Rustling leaves and birdsong: it’s as bucolic as can be. Come for the peace, the famously delicious ham and, in November, the mushrooms. This gentle complex of stone cottages seems as much part of the natural scenery of this secret valley as the cork trees that surround it. Each has its own terrace, each is finished to exacting standards by Dutch owners. Peter, a keen walker who once strode from Amsterdam to Santiago de Compostela, has written a local guide; he and Monica are ever ready for a walk and a chat. The larger houses have underfloor heating, rafters and log fires, and steep stairs to upper sleeping areas, and each dwelling is beautifully modern: tiles from Seville, woven rugs, painted ironwork beds, warm colours. You are welcomed with a bottle of wine. There’s a communal area with books, guides and a guest kitchen, and the gardens are grassy and beautifully kept. It’s heaven for families: donkey rides and a popular pool, trees to climb and restaurants you can walk to (in cobbled Alájar). Portugal is over the border… but you may not wish to venture far.