Before there was aircon, Andalucían peasants kept their cool in homes cut out of the rock. Now visitors can do the same. Lesley Gillilan finds new life in old caves
• Five great cave hotels
We arrive at dusk, while it’s still light enough to tell that Malutka’s Andalucían Grotto has a spectacular view. The street is on a ledge of rock, high above the town of Baza. From the terrace, we look across the scorched flatlands of the Altiplano de Granada towards the hazy hills of the Sierra de Castril. The air is scented with jasmine. There are tortoises in the garden. Fairy lights dangle from a vine.
Malutka herself is there to greet us, dressed in a flowing peasant frock, hair pinned and plaited (think Wilma Flintstone meets Pocahantas) and trailing a husband and two little dogs. One of them, a cross-dressing chihuahua called Orion Moonstone, is wearing a blue lace tutu. Husband Colin is in a flashy Hawaiian shirt. It’s quite a welcome – and that’s before we see inside the cave.