El Alarife is quite different to our other houses, but it is also the work of one of Spain’s best known architects of recent decades. So not surprisingly, distribution, light, and space are major features; but so too is the location; just 90 meters from the Cala Encendida, an attractive cove at the southern end of the main Roche beach, the house sits on slightly higher ground than its neighbours, and there are lovely sea views from the first floor rooms and terrace. It is without doubt one of Roche’s best designed houses; and has been appropriately names (al’arif in Andalusi Arabic meant architecht or master of works).
El Alarife is particularly suitable for large families or two families (it sleeps ten, with a wing for teenagers should you wish, and it is no more than a skip and a hop to the beach); but it is also a house for groups of adults looking for a bit more than just a beach house. Quite austere from the outside, it lacks no creature comforts inside and the owners have complemented the building’s design with their use of pastels and a reduced amount of well-chosen furniture and objets dárt. All the main rooms on the ground floor (sitting room, dining room, and even the kitchen partially) look on to the terrace, pool, and garden; and the two bedrooms on the first floor have sea views. One terrace gets the morning sun and is protected from the poniente wind, and the other gets the evening sun and is protected from the levante. The entrance doors too have been positioned so as to provide currents, rather than gales, when either of the region’s two winds is blowing. And there are electric blinds in every room and electric terrace roofs that can be adjusted to generate just the right amount of light and shade, even on the brightest Costa de la Luz days. It is a wonderful design, and in fact the last ever design, by its architect, Estanislao Pérez Pita, whose work was exhibited internationally, including in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and who won Spain’s National Prize for Architecture for his renovation of the National Library in Madrid.
El Alarife is built on two floors: the ground floor contains the airy, light sitting room, which has glass doors opening on to both terraces (the morning terrace and the main terrace). It also has a stylish wood-burning stove for the damper autumn and winter evenings. The dining room also opens on to the main terrace, and is next to the kitchen, which, while not large compared to the size of the house, has everything you will want, including a professional oven and hob (the owner is a keen cook and the kitchen has been equipped accordingly!) Off the far end of the dining room is the bedroom wing, with its three bedrooms (one double, one twin, and one with bunkbed) and two bathrooms. This wing also has separate entrances, both at the back of the house and from the terrace. The stairs from the front hall take you up to the first floor, with its comfy TV room, the main suite, and the guest suite. All have sea views and access to the first floor terrace. Three of the bedrooms, like the sitting room and TV room, have ceiling fans.
As for the location, it is 90m to the beach, 300m to the nearest beach restaurant, 500m to the tennis courts and football pitches, and 700m to Roche’s other amenities (children’s playground, pharmacy, minimarket, and a couple of bars). Within a five-minute drive, there is a choice of good local restaurants. You could holiday here without a car; but you would be missing Conil-de-la-Frontera (10 minutes), the hilltop village of Vejer-de-la-Frontera (20 minutes), Cadiz (30 minutes), Tarifa and Jerez (both 40 minutes), and Seville (90 minutes)!