“First, we would like to thank Martha for opening her rustic vacation home for us, where we stayed for two weeks. Having said that, we are very well traveled and highly experience both as guests and hosts, and we have never got a negative feedback on either side, not even once. For that reason, we were quite overwhelmed reading Martha’s review, and it was obvious to us that she was dreading our potential (and justified) criticism, following a very bumpy stay. Her house is lacking basic maintenance which makes a stay there quite challenging. She told us several times in advance that she’s “out of shape” and hasn’t been hosting for a few years, but we never imagined anything like that. Truth is we were not going to mention all details, cutting her some slack, but with the list of absurd false accusations, we feel that we weren’t left much choice. In short, communication was very odd and unpleasant from the get go and like nothing we have experienced before. Then upon arrival, a cleaning fee we never heard of was asked for. But mainly, the run-down house, full of flies wish flaky electricity and a fridge that hardly works to make food last, in a very need deserted area. The only thing that might be true even though it sounds weird as we left the house way cleaner than we got it – is a meal forgotten in the oven. If that really happened, then we’re sorry. That was a synopsis and the detailed experience is to be found below. In short, unfortunately we do not recommend Martha’s house. The experience with Martha as a host started in a peculiar way with an unpleasant attitude we couldn’t relate to and that made us feel uncomfortable before even arriving in her residence. She refused to speak on the phone and so communication was all via text which made it quite hard and awkward at times. Then, she only sent us the directions to her just before our arrival, rather than after booking, making us feel she’s suspecting we’ll arrive before the time agreed on and try to squat it, couldn’t really think of another reason… Finally, it was when we got closer to the village with hardly any reception, we got a word document with a complex and unclear explanation (instead of simply an address or a pin on google maps). We ended up looking for it for a long time, it was already getting dark, and we forced to drive in circles around the village. We finally found a neighbor to ask where “Martha’s house” was and luckily he could show us. The next day we stocked up on food, staying for two weeks with two babies and in a tiny remote village with nothing around, we had to get a lot of things. Coming back to the house, we found out that the fridge is not working well and its temperature is very high (about 14-15 Celsius). Our 200 Euros worth of groceries was going bad slowly and Martha’s response was, “oh, sorry, forgot to mention it”. On top of that, it was making a horrible blip nonstop which made it impossible to sleep as the place is all one space. And it’s not just the fridge, a lot of the equipment is dysfunctional, the kitchen is impossible to cook in, being so tight with no basic tools. We bought a cutting board, a bowl and a peeler so we can at least make decent salads. The electricity in the house is hardly working and more than two appliances at the same time will make the fuse box collapse, that is probably the reason for all the dysfunctional appliances. We had to deal with it every time we switched the oven on, and with the washing machine it was even worse cause it’s so old it’s impossible to restart the program, it will be stuck for hours before we could use it again. Then there’s the flies. Everywhere. All the time. It was a pure torture and nothing we tried helped. Cleaned the surfaced obsessively, kept all windows except for the only one with a screen in the bathroom closed, fought them with the endless amount of bets scattered in the house – nothing, just endless amount, consistently. And then there’s the issue with the thing that made us feel the most uncomfortable. Few days before arriving, we asked if it would be possible to make it two days earlier since it was making our trip back less intense, not driving for many hours in one day. Martha said we were welcome but it won’t leave her enough time to clean the house as she would have usually leave it for guests. We weren’t sure what she meant by that and travelling with two crawling babies during Covid, hygiene is a priority. That was the point when we tried to communicate more effectively and offered to call but she refused. That is why we left the dates as planned. We asked and received all directories for the house and surrounding (except for the location of course) so we could plan in advance. We read it thoroughly and nothing was mentioned regarding a cleaning fee. Then on arriving to the house, there was a hard copy of the same document and surprisingly it said a fee of 40 Euros is expected upon departure. This made us uncomfortable and even upset as she specifically made it very clear she was the one cleaning the house. Also, we just arrived from a house three times as big, in Asturias which is a more expensive part of Spain, and the cleaning fee, which was obviously mentioned in advance, was 30 Euros. *************************************HOST RESPONSE**************************************************** It looks as if we have some different recollections and perceptions of the events. For instance I never refused to speak to them on the phone. I explained from the very beginning that I am fairly deaf and have a disability that makes it difficult for me to hear, specially when there's such bad reception. I am fairly forgetful of late and sometimes I get confused about what had been said so having in it in writing helps me. We told them that we were of a certain age and not particularly digitally able and for that reason my preferred choice of communication was through the love home swap platform, they complained about it so we compromised by switching to WhatsApp. Incidentally it has now helped going through all of the texts to put it all in place. I also never said I was out of shape hosting, we've been hosting for years, I said I was out of shape dealing with 1 year old twins. Still, went out, bought a new electric heater an extra cot, a new mattress and bedding and a high chair and transformed one of the bedrooms into a nursery. Mike spent several days converting a corner of the living room into a play pen. I am well aware we didn't have to do any of this as we agreed that a mattress on the floor would be fine but as grandparents of now grown up twin boys ourselves we wanted to make them comfortable and to make it special. We have travelled with children and we know what is like and thought it would be a nice thing to do for them. Which by the way, no regrets there, we enjoyed doing it very much and were happy to do so. We disinfected the house top to bottom and bought extra cleaning and disinfectant products at their insistance. When asked to look for a babysitter, I spent a few days on the mission. I tried with friends and neighbours first but couldn't find anyone available so I ended up on line. There was a small fee to pay to get their contact number. I had several attempts in order to get the most suitable one. I interviewed them until I found one I was satisfied with after all it was going to be another stranger in our house. At that time I was not aware they were fluent in Spanish therefore I had to assess not only their qualifications but also their level of English as well as making sure they had their own transport and didn't mind going to the middle of nowhere etc. Never crossed my mind to ask them for them fees. I wouldn't exactly call this out of shape, if you asked me. We did all this out of the kindness of our hearts but apparently we are terrible hosts because we failed to supply a potatoe peeler. Our first incentive to do this swap was because they asked for 23 nights and we are collecting points. Then they kept changing it until the last minute it was only 13. That made it much less attractive but we were so far into the negotiations we went ahead. Plus we already had the cots. Not only they kept changing the dates but they took ages replying for confirmation. We spent a whole week-end just waiting, we still didn't know the exact final dates of arrival and departure or whether they were still coming at all. They weren't replying to texts. Finally we received an extremely long and convoluted rant very late one night. That's what made us stick to the original dates and it was us who notified them in writing that we were very sorry but that it was not possible to accommodate them a few days earlier because they were just doing my head in with all their hygiene par-lava. The GPS doesn't work around here and sends couriers 20 kms up the mountain so there's no point of giving the address and as a principle we don't give it to anyone until we have full confirmation in writing they are coming, the same with any information about the house but we gave them very comprehensive details on how to get there as soon as we had their confirmation. No fear of squatters, I can assure you. We told them, as we do with any guest, that it is an old country house fairly isolated on the mountains with animals roaming around and to expect flies and creepy crawlies as this is the nature of living in a rural village. It's well illustrated in the love home swap web, we know it isn't for everyone. Sometimes there are more than others, sometimes there are none, but it's definitely not something I can control. Alas, my superpowers don't stretch that far yet. We do supply a wide selection of colourful fly swats. I believe some people have made a game of it even with teams and point scoring. We also provided a mosquito net for the main bed and there is a window net in the bathroom and nursery. Understandably had the kitchen been equipped with Le Creuset cookware we wouldn't be asking for 100 points per night. The incident with the fridge, is grossly exaggerated and it came to nothing at the end. My guess is they tinkered with the temperature settings because the alarm wouldn't switch itself on out of the blue. When they contacted us their groceries were 150€, they have magically mutated into 200. Had anything gone really wrong, we would have had no hesitation in refunding them however they had no problem using most of the things we provided but it never occurred to them to contribute by replacing some of it. The cleaning fee they say was so over the top, well in Madrid we pay way more than in Asturias, that's for sure. This is a rural community and we like to support local people and pay decent wages. The fee is not for me, it's for the cleaner which goes to the house when we are not there. I was surprised to find they were so familiar with my cleaning arrangements. They claim that they weren't told before they arrived, maybe not but they were given the choice once they were there and it was presented like this: “if at the end of you stay you don't feel like cleaning and clearing up the house you can take advantage of our cleaner, Karen. You can let us know when you leave and we'll call her. 40€ cleaning fee to be left on the table for her”. I admit that perhaps is not that well worded but it is hardly a demand, an imposition or an ambush as they intimate. It's an optional offer. As for them leaving the house better than when they moved in I'm not even going to go there. I'm fairly confident I could produce a 'before & after'. They could have taken up the offer and we would have been none the wiser. What we did ask, though, and we did so before we formalized the booking so there were no possible misunderstandings, was for a small contribution towards electricity as it has gone so extremely expensive lately and it was starting to get fairly cold and all the hot water, heating and appliances are electric otherwise to please be mindful. The fuses tripped not by default but by design: that indicates the amount of electricity they were using but they don't mention any of this and of course they didn't take any notice either way either. I don't need being given some slack, thank you very much. I have photographs of everything I wrote in my review and I certainly don't need to come up with preposterous false accusations. Let's see if we can refresh their memory: Why would I invent an old pair of men's smelly black Nike's snikers? Or the stinking smell of a tray of roasted vegetables left rotting in the oven? How would I know the brand of the prophylactics they use? I don't use nappies or baby wipes, so I know they were not mine nor the fairly filthy blue ball shaped as a coronavirus. The size of the black pants left by the side of the bed was 'petite' I am very large and … I could go on. They know they never offered a replacement of any sort for the broken key box… and the rest... Then there was the ludicrous long winded apology about the little boys playing with the clothes' pegs; apparently they had scaterred them all over the place. What a joke! What's wrong with these people, all they had to do is pick them up from the floor! I am not in the habit of writing bad reviews and I don't see what I would be gaining by making any of this up, on the contrary this is going to spoil our star ratings. The only reason I have for writing this review is because I feel taken for a ride: all that time, expense and effort. A nice thank you note probably would have done the trick. We never in a million years would dread their criticism because we are confident with what we offer. We never presumed it was the Hilton and we never pretended to be other than what we are: an old couple with an old little house in the country. What we are really dreading, though, is the next electricity bill. My initial statement still stands, they asked for a lot and in return they gave nothing. ”
traditional Spanish rural house at the edge of a tranquil hamlet only 1 hour from Madrid
traditional Spanish rural house at the edge of a tranquil hamlet only 1 hour from Madrid
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- 2 Bedrooms
- Sleeps 4
- 1 Bathrooms
About our home
74 m² of open plan accommodation with well equipped kitchen. Big balcony at front of the house and large garden at rear with breathtaking views and spectacular sunsets and night skies.
There is no audio or visual equipment of any kind as the silence and the views are magnificent – however you can bring your own. There are books, cards and games and DVDs to watch on computer.
Easy parking in front of house for up to 3 vehicles
Bedding and towels provided.
Tea, coffee and basic breakfast/snack making ingredients provided on arrival. - Only 1 hours' drive from Madrid capital and airport. 10 minutes drive from historic Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and International Golf Course La Herereria (also town with frequent bus and train services, shops and bars).45 kilometres from ski resort of Navacerrada.
- Vacation Home
- Equipped for kids
- Central heating
- Washing machine
- No pets
Martha's reviewsAs a host (6) As a guest (1)
“The house is very comfortable. WE had all we needed. The views from the balcony are just wonderful, what a treat to sit every evening and watch the sunset. The silence at night was complete, the temperature was very nice. The house is located in a very special area, we saw cows and horses freely on the mountain. We visited several places: El Escorial, Ávila, Segovia and La Granja de San Ildefonso, everything within a 1h drive. Communication with Martha was easy. She took care to make our stay as nice as possible. She sent us all the information we needed. La casa es cómoda, teníamos todo lo necesario. Las puestas de sol eran espectaculares. Por las noches, silencio total. A pesar de que era agosto, la temperatura era muy agradable. La casa está en una zona rural en la que encontramos vacas y caballos paciendo libremente. Aprovechamos para visitar Ávila, Segovia, El Escorial y La Granja de San Ildefonso, todo a una hora aprox de camino. La comunicación con martha ha sido fluída, hemos recibido tota la información necesaria. ”
“The landscape was truly breathtaking and beautiful! We were lucky to be in this true sanctuary, Martha's home and La Hoya! It definitely helped to put life into perspective! ”
“Welcoming, warm and quiet house with splendid views in a great location”
“We had a very happy time at La Hoya. The house is compact but everything worked very well, plenty of hot water and a complete kitchen with plenty of gadgets, etc. beautiful views from the balcony of mountains as far as the eye can see. and lovely sunsets. It was a bit more isolated then I expected and the road to it was a but tricky in the dark. Martha was very helpful throughout and gave us a very comprehensive list of things to do, where to go, trains time, etc She was always at the other end of the line if we needed anything which was great. The nearest town, 10 miles away, is lovely with lots of restaurants, and a historic Monastery. Perfect for a quiet relaxing holiday. ”
“We had a great stay at Martha's home in La Hoya. We were very comfortable and enjoyed the remoteness of the location. However, was still very convenient to Madrid and other places to visit. Would very much recommend as a lovely place to stay. Thank you Martha for your hospitality. Steve & Jenny”
“Martha and her group were very nice. Would totally recommend her to for other SWAPS.”
More about us
We are a semi retired couple still very active
I am an artist and Mike is an entertainer
We love to travel: city, sea, mountain...
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