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If you’re keen to explore the pata-negra heartland of Spain’s Extremadura region, make the Monasterio de Rocamador your base.

Surrounded by the oak groves typical of Extremadura, which teem with semi-wild pigs munching on acorns and getting tastier by the minute, Rocamador is a weird, wonderful and totally unique hotel, in a quite unlikely part of the country. The region is so-called because it’s beyond the Douro river, not because it’s extremely hardcore; however, a day or two driving around, and you’d be excused the confusion. It’s one of Spain’s least populous regions, but to my mind most starkly beautiful.

The hotel is housed in a former monastery, making the rooms all wildly different in size, shape and style. Rocamador’s owner is actor Carlos Tristancho, who appeared in several early Almodovar movies, and it seems that the flamboyant style of those films lives on in his characterful hotel and his highly personal colour schemes. Not that it’s wacky or mistaken, nor are half the rooms great and the other half horrid; but there’s a touch of the Willy Wonka to the place that makes it as light-hearted as it is high-end.

It’s as good for hideaway honeymoons as it is for über-active mountain-biking, hiking or cycling trips, or gastronomic excursions into a region with more than its fair share of culinary laureates. You could double your weight in a week eating real jamón ibérico or las secretas de cerdo, a dish I have been unable to find reference to since, but which was so deliciously fatty it couldn’t be cooked near open flame. The pata-negra refers the black hooves of the pigs; they live entirely on a rummaging diet of bellotas, which gives them their rich, sweet, woody flavour, and price tag to match that of fresh truffles.

There's a touch of the Willy Wonka to the place that makes it as light-hearted as it is high end.

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