They say that a hotel is not a home, although Matt and Dany are hoping to prove ‘them’ wrong. And it seems to be working, as their unique, welcoming Bed and Breakfast has been recognised by Tripadvisor as one of the best in Spain, one of eight accommodations in the Valencia Community to achieve this status in the 12th Edition of the Travellers´ Choice Hotels Awards.
Matt is from Holland, where he worked as a talk show host on Dutch TV and that ebullience and enthusiasm stay with him as he welcomes guests to his home.
His partner Dany is making a serious attempt to out-Obama Obama; born in Hawaii of a French mother and Indonesian father, he lived in the USA in Oregon, before trying Amsterdam, where he met Matt. Well, perhaps not quite Obamaesque.
Together they set up Mindfulness Retreat, a guest house, which is also their home, and where they offer hospitality to those travellers who look for something different, something personal and with potential.
The words ‘host’ and ‘guest’ both have the same origin and date back, as does traditionally hospitality, to the root word ‘ghosti’, meaning stranger, from Proto-Indo-European, the hypothetical, reconstructed ancestral language of the Indo-European family, which is 5,500 years old.
This particular hotel-home, where guest and host also overcome the distance between them, is two elegant 100 year old apartments in Valencia’s historical centre joined together to form a series of rooms, each uniquely decorated with their own collection of paintings, sculptures and original furniture aiming for a lived-in look.
They chose Valencia over Madrid and Barcelona for its manageable size, its climate and its people. And that welcoming Mediterranean feeling is transmitted to their guests, who are given wine and conversation from the moment they arrive, followed by suggestions on where to go to eat, shop or enjoy some history and some atmosphere.
Or they can offer a series of relaxation pursuits such as yoga, meditation or massage.
While other establishments offer a brochure, a map and a key to a room, Dany and Matt are much more interested in sharing with like-minded souls, who inevitably become friends, and who often remain friends with the other guests, visiting and keeping in touch.
Apart from their web site, they don’t advertise, or even have a sign outside, as they want to be sure about who enters their home, and for that reason you won’t even find their address on their site.
Matt starts his own day with meditation, to which guests are invited, although they may prefer to await the famous five star Cava-Champagne breakfast consisting of a selection of daily fresh breads, pastries and croissants from a local family-run bakery, a selection of chopped local fresh seasonal fruits from the Mercado Central (Melon, Strawberries, Pineapple, Peaches, Kiwi, Oranges, a selection of cheeses: Spanish Manchego, Brie, Camenbert, Dutch Gouda, Leerdammer, a selection of meats: locally produced cold meats and Spain’s famous Serrano hams, Valencia’s famously tasty tomatoes, Greek Danone yoghurts, a selection of sweet jams (Tomato, Blueberry, Peach, Strawberry), a selection of cheese-spreads, a selection of Dutch Sprinkles (Bitter Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Fruties), a selection of cereals: Granola & Nuts, Kellogs Cornflakes; Sugar Loops, Fruit & Fibre Forrest fruits, American Coffee, Dutch Coffee, Italian Espresso, Juices and of course (pause for breath) Regional Cava Champagne. The expression ‘spoilt for choice’ springs to mind.
Without giving away the exact location, I can tell you that you will be very near one of Valencia’s oldest Romanic churches, a stone’s throw away, for those who are without guilt, from the Cathedral, and can enjoy the rising sun in one of the two comfortable sun-filled lounge-rooms, with sunny balconies overlooking a quiet street. Did you get the co-ordinates, Captain Kirk?
Dany and Matt don’t feel the need to convince you, they would rather pamper and lure you with a seductive experience in which they believe strongly; so much so that if you aren’t happy on your first night there, they will tear up your bill and find you alternative accommodation free of charge; and that’s after you have finished your champagne breakfast!
They are fluent in English, French, Dutch, German and Spanish, and the guest list reflects an international desire to travel in peace and not feel ‘hotelled’ by the experience. On my visit the guests were a woman from London and a Dutch couple, all of whom were able to appreciate the complimentary bottled spring water in their private bed and breakfast room and the Lladró Porcelain Figurines: they in fact invite local artists to showcase their work, which is displayed among a large collection of over 2,000 books, available for guests to borrow and take away (as long also they leave a replacement). But mostly they enjoyed the feeling of coming home after a tour of the city and having someone to chat to and share the experience with.
Traditional hospitality however doesn’t mean they are technophobes. Their home also offers free high speed WiFi internet, a flat screen TV with over 130 national and international channels, as well as recent local and international magazines
There is a twice daily cleaning service, beach-towels, sunscreens, and bathrooms with professional hairdryers, and for those who like to be pampered, a tempting assortment of creams, lotions, soaps and shampoos. Laundry is also included in the price.
They will make thoughtful recommendations and make all your reservations for concerts, theatre, opera or flamenco shows.
Fine bone china tea-cups, authentic oil-paintings and 100 % Egyptian cotton beddings on brand new box-spring hotel beds, and on top of that, hosts who really want to know you and to help you enjoy Valencia.
Of course, if you prefer the surly hotel receptionist with the brother-in-law who owns the worst restaurant in town and the cousin of the taxi driver who is fluent in the longest route to the airport, Matt and Dany will point you in the wrong direction with a sad smile, but with a smile.