Aviles (Asturias), Spain August 2021

It was time to spoil ourselves; time to chill in a hotel for a couple of days; a hotel with a large bath, a real bed and a good breakfast. Our approach when looking for such a place is to simply log into Booking.com and apply our search parameters – must take dogs (and not insist upon charging ridiculously high cleaning surcharges) and must have parking sufficient to accommodate the Van (or be close to suitable parking). Thereafter we seek something quite luxurious at a reasonable price. It doesn’t really matter where the hotel is provided it is within striking distance. We found a number of options but the one we chose was the Zen Balagares Hotel on the outskirts of Avila and close to the Trasona Reservoir Park.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Zen Balagares. It was perfect for us and I would highly recommend the hotel but, the surroundings? I kid you not, the approach to the hotel is through an area which resembles a film set for an episode of that post apocalyptic horror television series ‘The Walking Dead’.

Our drive up to the hotel took us first through a fairly scruffy, almost industrial, part of Aviles and then up towards what looked like a quiet upmarket residential area. Then, suddenly, our surroundings changed. We were driving along a series of wide empty roads. There were roundabouts, zebra crossings, street lights and parking places on these roads but neither houses nor shops and absolutely no people nor traffic. This went on for what seemed like miles. We passed an overgrown 18 hole golf course and driving range which, clearly, had been left unattended for years. There was a club house & cafe bar with chains on the doors and a large car park, with parking bays marked for the president and club captain, cracked and covered in weeds. Through the dirty windows of the club house we could see tables and chairs and display cabinets with cups, shields and medals but still no people. Further round the golf course was another run down, glass fronted building – an empty showroom. Through the diry cracked windows we could see scale models and artistic impressions of… This wasn’t a setting for the Walking Dead – a local developer had gone bust.

We carried on towards the hotel and again our surroundings changed. The hotel is surrounded by that quiet upmarket residential area we had seen from the foot of the hill. We had arrived at the Zen Balagares but, having said that… the estate is reminiscent of another film plot. Yes, it’s a perfect setting for another remake of the Stepford Wives. The houses… Enough already!

We spent two great nights at the Zen Balagares. The room was comfortable (and it had a wonderful hot bath), the breakfast was good, the bar was open whenever we needed it and the food wasn’t bad. Oh, and they kept a decent Albarino. The best part however was a very reasonably priced 90 minute hot and cold stone massage. We loved that.

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