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Andalusian insights: the luxury of silence

“Let us have the luxury of silence,” Jane Austen, “Mansfield Park” With constantly beeping phones, demands from offspring, the rhythmic ping of notifications and constant hum of home technology, it can sometimes feel like we are being constantly attacked by the gnat-like pecking of noise. Our lives are faster and fuller than ever before and, as noise continues its unrelenting advance into the quietest pockets of wilderness, even the wealthy are finding a silent retreat impossible to locate. In a world full of noise, silence has become the most sought-after luxurious commodity. From noise-cancelling headphones to the rise in popularity of silent retreats, there has never before been quite so great a premium placed on silence. Noise doesn’t have to be audible, noise can be anything which causes us nuisance; all those emails, texts, and digital media alerts that consume our consciousness can be damaging to our psyche. Taking time out to reflect on ourselves and really relax is a luxury we seldom indulge, but one which is crucial to our overall health. Have our noise-soaked lives driven us mad!? We often go on holiday to get away from it all – the idea of using a holiday to de-stress and unwind is not a new one. But how often do we take time to truly enjoy the luxury of getting away from it all by switching off (completely) and enjoying true peace and quiet? Here are some tips, specific to Andalusia, but applicable elsewhere… Private villa versus hotel It’s intuitive if you consider the comparison. Many hotels may offer a haven of sorts, lush and quiet, once you close the door of your room or suite; however, how many people must you pass at the entrance, reception, in the lift or corridors? What distraction of noise and complexity of busy energy? Can you open a window without additional noise and commotion? In Andalusia, hotels can often be clustered together, and in the city Andalusian life is bound to be raucous as the fun-loving Spaniards have a well known penchant for late nights and vibrant social encounters. By contrast, a private rental allows you your own private space, to be shared only with your own family and friends. Here you establish your own guidelines and schedules. As a home away from home, you come and go privately without concern for shared space with strangers. Andalusia offers such a rich wealth of culture beneath the surface and the best way to experience the slow pace of local life is to live like a local in a private residence all of your own. Nature, naturally Likewise, it only makes sense to stay in a rural location if it is the luxury of silence that you seek. Andalusia is a diverse landscape, well known for its sun kissed coastlines, but revealing towering mountains, inland prairies, wetlands and sprawling olive groves and vineyards. The cities have their own appeal, but the magnitude of open space and stunning silence in between are surprising. The Costa del Sol has long been known as a bit of a boisterous playground for fun loving sun seekers; yet, just off the beaten path, still within sight of the magnificent Mediterranean, lies an easily accessible quietude sublime. Meanwhile, there are plenty of peaceful beaches between Maro, in eastern Malaga province, and Motril in Granada province; near Cadiz on the Atlantic coast, and the famous Cabo de Gata near Almeria. Order in From your peaceful, private retreat, order in services to facilitate your “switch off”. Think contemplative, introspective activities such as a meditation coach or yoga instructor. Book a private hiking guide to introduce you to the marvels of the Andalusian nature, stopping to consider the gentle sounds of birds and breezes. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxing massage back at your rental home and at the end of the day, relieve yourself from kitchen duty with a private chef who will prepare your meals for you there, freeing up even more time for quiet contemplation poolside or in the garden. Go tech-free In the ancient hills of Andalusia, it can sometimes feel like stepping back in time. Farmers still haul their produce to the market by donkey, old Roman roads and bridges connect hillside villages marked by Moorish and Phoenician relics, and the sun burns a slow arc across an eternal sky. This sentiment is quickly dispersed by the ping of an incoming message on a smart phone. The ancient land comes fully equipped with high speed internet, WiFi, 4G, etc. So switch it off! Just see how easily the hours pass without submitting to the habit of constantly checking your social media feed, reassuring yourself that the business hasn’t abruptly collapsed with out you in the office, or sharing what would otherwise be intimate moments with the rest of the world. Peace and silence do require effort. Your children may not be enthusiastic about the prospect of spending days disconnected from the internet and their friends far away, but they can also learn to realise the deeper connection with their surroundings that comes without the distraction of a hand-held device. Anyone who has ever attempted meditation knows the difficulty of clearing the mind and creating inner silence. But for the uninitiated, it is virtually impossible to do with the distraction of audible noise and external bustle. Plan the perfect setting, make the time, take a deep breath and enjoy the silence. Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto. Cortijo el Carligto is a private Andalucían hideaway and luxury rental estate in the hills of Malaga, Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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