Family Adventure Awaits in San Rafael
Coming to Spain is often about immersing yourself in culture and history by visiting museums, castles, palaces Roman ruins, aqueducts, walled cities and so much more. However, if you are travelling with children you might need to add in a dose of good ‘ole fun into your trip or you could find yourself with mutinous faces when you enter yet another monastery for a tour.
Only an hour from Madrid, in the foothills of the Guadarrama mountains, San Rafael is an ideal spot to take your children for a day or two of adventure and fun before you get back to some cultural touring.
The Town of San Rafael
San Rafael itself is a very small town and doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of amenities. Ironically, San Rafael started off as a tourist town, which wasn’t a common occurrence in 1784 when it came into existence. A road was built so that King Carlos III would have a route from Madrid to his Royal Palace of San Iledefonso. As the Royals travelling the road needed to stop for a night on route, an inn was built in what became San Rafael‚—along with a church and a priest’s house. It wasn’t until 1874 that San Rafael started to have a bit of a population growth when the city council offered free plots of land to build manor houses. The Madrid elite came and built luxury residences—some were small private palaces, others were gentleman colonial looking country homes. The houses in and around San Rafael are elegant and give off a peaceful environment.
Adventure and tranquility under the same roof at La Casona
At the family-friendly hotel, La Casona del Pinar, both children and parents will enjoy a relaxed and yet adventurous atmosphere. La Casona achieves a beautiful balance between encouraging activities and yet offering plenty of relaxation.
The Amenities at La Casona
On-site, the facility has a tennis court, basketball court, football pitch, ping-pong table, park with slides and swings for children, a well-equipped gymnasium for adults and of course a swimming pool with plenty of lawn area. Once a week they also offer zip-lining and climbing with monitors.
On the relaxing side of the scale, the hotel has well-kept lawns, some open, others with benches and more treed. There are areas that are surrounded by rose bushes and in the spring plenty of flowering trees.
The cafeteria near the entrance is surrounded by a lawned area that excudes tranquility. The cafeteria serves excellent food and very reasonable prices and there is a large space for just a few tables so you never feel cramped. Some of the tables have canvas tarps as walls which serve as wind-blockers in the evening breeze. On the weekends, live entertainment is often provided.
La Casona is an older facility. Some of the rooms have been renovated and updated and have a modern luxurious feel. They are decorated in a modern style, complete with a double jacuzzi tub and rustic touches.
Family rooms are in a section of the hotel that is clean, well-looked after but more basic than the newly-renovated rooms. The rooms have either a double bed and a bunk bed, or two twin beds as well as a bunk bed.
A weekend adventure
After having spent a weekend with my children—8 years and 14 years—I can wholeheartedly recommend this place as a fun family get-away. The children kept busy and active the entire weekend between the parks, the soccer pitch and the swimming pool. They of course especially loved the zip lines. The monitors were excellent—kind, helped and teased the children, but very professional as well. All equipment was checked and double checked before allowing anyone to go on the zips.
There is a small practice zip-line area that is only a couple of meters off the ground. We were all harnessed up and told to take advantage of this area to lose our fear. They told us (parents get to go as well) to let go and feel how the harness will catch us so that when we were on the higher zip-lines we wouldn’t have to be scared.
The climbing wall
Once the practice was completed by everyone, we all moved along to the rest of the course. It seemed like it was small, but in the end, we were zipping and climbing for over three hours. The longest zip line was a little more intense. You picked up a lot of speed and the landing was a couple of stops and a safety mattress that brought you to a bouncing halt. For the children and most adults, it was just that, a bounce and jolt and you were on your feet—a couple of the heavyweights had to make sure to put their feet down quickly or they would have a not-nearly-so-soft landing on their backside.
The final activity of the day was jumping from a 12-metre high platform while being held by the zip-line ropes. It was a style of bungee jumping. Everyone was a little nervous at the idea at first, but after seeing a number of people jump—including very young children—most of the group took the plunge.
Additional activities in San Rafael
If all these are activities on-site aren’t enough to keep your children busy, the hotel is within the Sierra de Guadarrama natural park which has hundreds of well-marked hiking trails. Nearby there are riding stables where you can have guided horse trail rides.
Once you are ready to head back to your culture visits, you have Segovia, El Escorial and Avila all within an hour or hour 1/2 drive.
La Casona de Pinar information:
Telephone: +34 921 171 412