There’s something special about traveling to a secluded location, far away from cities, crowds, and tourist traps; entrenched in tradition and closer to nature. Yet seclusion is rarely accompanied by great accommodation, the kind that makes you feel welcome and deepens your connection to a place. Tucked deep in the Picos de Europa mountains, a small family run B&B called La Posada de Cucayo, is getting everything right.

I scoured the internet for weeks ahead of a holiday in Spain looking for a place that was off the beaten path. Eventually I stumbled on a small town called Cucayo nestled deep within the Picos de Europa, a mountain range and national park that spans three districts of Northern Spain – Asturias, Cantabria, and Castile y León – and is renowned for its hiking, caves, and extraordinary landscapes. Cucayo, which is in the Cantabria region, looked beautiful, sufficiently remote, and exactly what I was looking for. It also had only one option for accommodation: La Posada de Cucayo guesthouse.

Although the journey is worth the effort, getting to Cucayo is no easy feat. The village is a few hundred metres above sea level tucked in the heart of the Picos de Europa mountains, so you’re in for an uphill drive. Sharing the road with “confident” Spanish drivers who were comfortable speeding up and down the snaking roads after years of experience, we cautiously made our way up under thick fog, holding our breath along the razor-sharp turns with few guard rails lining the road to separate our manual rental car from the steep declines beside us.

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Our stress quickly faded as we reached the top and amongst the stunning scenery and historic village, encountered La Posada de Cucayo. La Posada is an unbelievably charming guesthouse run by three siblings, Anna, Tina, and Alberto, located beside the town’s former bar built half century earlier by their father. The hosts of La Posada could not have been more welcoming and for the duration of our time there, they went out of their way to make the stay truly special.

Although La Posada was recently constructed and has a modern interior, the building fits with the village’s traditional stone homes. The guesthouse’s ten rooms are clean and comfortable, with most featuring a balcony overlooking the valley. As soon as you take in the spectacular view, you’ll immediately forget about the perilous but beautiful journey to get to this point.

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Cucayo is a quaint but unbelievably beautiful town. A few dozen homes, all in the traditional Cantabrian style and built between the 16th and 18th centuries, make you feel as though you’ve been swept away to a different time. Cars in or even near Cucayo are scarce, though you’ll likely run into some of the local residents out for their daily stroll, perhaps on their way to La Posada themselves, where watching the latest Spanish gameshows seems to be a regular pastime.

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La Posada de Cucayo has the only restaurant in the village and everything on the menu is from the family’s farm adjacent to the guesthouse or foraged nearby. The food is traditional, sustainable, and fresh, from the hens you can hear clucking through the open windows to wild mushrooms picked by Tina on her morning hikes.

Visitors spend their days hiking the incredible terrain surrounding Cucayo. Tina, the resident English speaker, is very knowledgable about the area and can provide several hiking routes depending on your skill level. The landscape is gorgeous, with large escarpments, green rolling hills, and animals roaming freely in the fields. Be forewarned, even a short hike can evolve into a multi-hour adventure if you bring your camera along as there are incredible views, characteristic of the Picos de Europa, at every turn.

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While the saying ‘once in a lifetime‘ gets thrown around so much that it’s lost its strength, I struggle to find a better way to articulate just how special La Posada de Cucayo and its hometown truly are. It’s certainly an experience that will stick with me for a long time.

La Posada de Cucayo and Picos de Europa photos courtesy of JP Bervoets, Departful