The house which Hotel Rural Auñamendi now occupies has been in the hotel and catering business for fifty years. It was first used as a bar, “Casa Zazón”, the precursor of the current hotel because it is still a family business today. The building was gradually extended and renovated, and then fully overhauled in 2014 before becoming the country hotel we know today.
You may wonder what “Auñamendi” means… It is the second name of Mount Anie, the first mountain in the Pyrenees to pass 2,500 metres and also the word used in Basque to refer to the Pyrenees as a whole. Not bad for one word!
In the village square
Our hotel is in the square of Ochagavía-Otsagabia, one of the prettiest villages in the Pyrenees. Ochagavía serves as a threshold to the Forest of Irati, one of the largest and best conserved areas of woodland in Europe, and an ideal base camp from which to get to know the Navarrese Pyrenees. The River Anduña passes right through the middle of the village, which has served as a location for a number of films, including “Secrets of the Heart” by the Navarrese film director Montxo Armendáriz.
Huddled around the fortified Church of St John the Evangelist, which has a remarkable Renaissance altarpiece, the steep roofs of the village’s well-tended houses slope down towards the River Anduña, the main artery of the village. It is well worth taking a stroll through Ochagavía’s cobbled streets, stumbling across some of its more surprising nooks and crannies, and admiring the old ashlar houses that survived the fire that razed many to the ground during the War of the Pyrenees in 1794. Ochagavía-Otsagabia, with its magnificent doorways, ancient windows, forged ironwork, broad eaves and coats of arms, is a true open-air museum.