My husband and I booked an apartment in the Casa Rural del Corral in Malpartida de Plasencia for 5 days in June this year as a base to explore one of our favourite areas in Spain: Extremadura. We had previously stayed in Malpartida twice, in the Canada Real Hotel, but this time decided to try somewhere new.
Despite our very literal 'Spanglish' translation of its name, Malpartida de Plasencia isn't the "bad part" of Plasencia. It's a large village, which at first appears to be a confusion of streets. Although we had a rough idea where the Casa was, we couldn't find the road on our SatNav. Fortunately there are many yellow signs pointing the way to the Casa. With a little practice & a map from the owner, it was easy to find the next time!
Having stayed in some pretty shabby self-catering accommodation in Spain before, we had low expectations. So we were completely blown away with how modern, clean and comfortable the apartment was. It was open plan and very spacious. The kitchen is small but functional - this was important to us as we are vegetarians and veggie options in Extremadura are extremely limited. The shower was great and the two air conditioning units, which we needed on a couple of really hot days, were very responsive and kept us cool.
Although there is a small indoor swimming pool, we didn't try it out as the owner said we needed to wear a swimming cap. We have found this to be a requirement in Spanish hotels before, so if you want to swim there, pack a cap!
Malpartida doesn't have a High Street, but has little shops dotted around the town. There is a small Dia supermarket which you can walk to in 10 minutes from the Casa. The main town of Plasencia (15 minute drive) has a lot more shops if you need them, including a Carrefour hypermarket.
In terms of things to do, the Casa is a great place to stay for nature, walking and sightseeing. Monfrague National Park is on the doorstep. You can reach the visitor centre at Villareal de San Carlos in less than 20 minutes. The park has lots of walking trails, which is rare for Spain and there are bird hides at strategic points. The rocks of El Salto del Gitano were packed with large nesting colonies of Griffin Vultures. This area is also worth scanning for nesting Black Storks, Egyptian Vultures and Black Vultures. The Castillo is also worth climbing up to. There you can look down on the flying vultures and the vast dehesa of cork oaks stretching for miles in all directions. Flowers and butterflies are amazing too, although if you go after June, most flowers are dried to a crisp!
If you like birdwatching, explore the minor roads around Torrejon el Rubio and Santa Marta de Magascar - where you can see lots of birds of prey. There are quite a few nature guides to the area, including the Crossbill Guide to Extremadura. The Garganta de Los Infiernos - a nature reserve in the nearby Val de Jerte.
Slightly further afield is the amazing town of Trujillo with its medieval and renaissance architecture and lesser kestrels. The walled city of Caceres is also a great town place to visit as it is a UNESO world heritage site.
In conclusion, it's a comfortable place to stay with lots of things to do in a 'hidden' rural part of Spain. The owners are friendly and speak English, although knowing a few words of Spanish still helps. We chose to get the Portsmouth to Santander ferry and drive (with an overnight stop in the Parador at Benevente). But it's easy to fly to Madrid and hire a car; the Casa is only a 2-hour drive away.