A Journey Begins

Bienvenida a Aqua et Oleum

In Latin Aqua et Oleum means Water and Oil. Originally an old olive oil mill with a babbling brook, the Mill has been transformed into this luxurious destination boutique hotel and gallery. Situated in the middle of an olive grove and vineyard on the outskirts of Villamiel.

Aqua et Oleum Mill

Discover the Mill.

Our Story
Joseph Shortell, a la entrada de su parcela.
Joseph Shortell

It started as an adventure.

In the heart of Extremadura, amidst the undulating landscapes and historic whispers of the past, Aqua et Oleum found its genesis. Joseph Shortell, an American visionary with roots in South Africa and a spirit kindled by the world, embarked on a journey that would lead to the creation of something truly extraordinary.

A Vision From Afar

Joseph’s connection with Spain began in his childhood with a visit to Malaga and deepened over the years through academic pursuits at the Sorbonne and exploratory stints in Salamanca. It was during these formative years that Joseph’s path serendipitously led him to Extremadura, a region rich with history and charm but often overlooked on the maps of mainstream tourism.

Discovering Extremadura

The allure of Extremadura’s castles, its vast historical influence, and the untouched beauty of its landscapes captivated Joseph. He was particularly enchanted during a visit in 2014, when a post-rain rainbow framing a castle ignited his imagination and sowed the seeds for a daring enterprise.

The Dream Takes Shape

Years later, Joseph discovered a dilapidated mill in Sierra de Gata. It was a place that seemed to call out to him, matching a vision he once dreamt. The old mill, with its worn stones and storied past, was the perfect canvas for what would become a remarkable fusion of art, culture, and hospitality.

Aqua et Oleum: A Tribute

Named ‘Aqua et Oleum’ as a homage to his father, an entrepreneur with a love for Latin, Joseph’s project transformed the ancient oil mill into a boutique hotel museum. Today, its walls are adorned with works from esteemed artists, echoing both the legacy of the past and the creative spirit of the present.

Overcoming Challenges

The journey was not without its challenges. Bureaucratic hurdles and the daunting task of restoring an ancient structure tested Joseph’s resolve. Yet, supported by memories of his father’s entrepreneurial spirit, he persevered, turning challenges into stepping stones.

A Dream Realized

Today, Aqua et Oleum stands as a testament to the power of vision and the enduring call of heritage. It is a place where history meets creativity, where every guest steps into a story that spans continents and centuries.

We invite you to be part of this continuing story, to explore, to discover, and to experience the enchanting world of Aqua et Oleum.

What guests are saying...

Javier Gonzalez
19 June 2024
A wonderful hotel nestled in Extremadura. A group of nine of us rented the entire hotel for our office retreat for five days. The staff is very accommodating and they have a world class chef preparing the meals. I would highly recommend staying here and taking advantage of all the nearby sights Extremadura has to offer.
Leesa Alhadef
19 June 2024
3 couples traveling for two weeks together. Aqua Et Oleum was so terrific on all levels. Visiting rural Spain started as an adventure and ended up being a fantastic vacation. The staff at Aqua Et Oleum was just the right amount of helpfulness. The 8 guest rooms were each unique and well appointed. The luxury bedding and mattresses made for restful nights after delicious wine & dinners. The owner, Joseph Shortell, has created something wonderful in the renovated olive oil mill turned 4 Star hotel.
Gary Alhadef
19 June 2024
What a hidden gem! This place should be on all travelers bucket list. It is a restored old olive oil mill, turned into an 8 room boutique hotel. The owner, Joseph Shortell is a master of design and it is reflected in the tasteful preservation of the old combined with comfort. Spectacular views, relaxed atmosphere and a great staff including an outstanding chef. We will be going back!
Victoria Rb
24 March 2024
Hemos ido a comer y no nos imaginábamos un sitio tan bonito, el entorno es mágico y lleno de detalles, la comida espectacular y el trato tanto del cocinero como sobre todo de la camarera ha sido lo mejor, íbamos con dos niños y les han tratado genial, muy pendiente de ellos. Nos han enseñado las habitaciones y las distintas estancias y es una maravilla. No puedo más que recomendarlo al 100% y en cuanto podamos volveremos. Muchas gracias por todo 🤍
7 March 2024
La atención fue única, nos sentimos como si todo el personal estuviera allí para atendernos cada minuto a todo lo que queríamos o necesitábamos. El lugar precioso, casa rincón puesto von detalle y el entorno de cuento de hadas... para repetir 👍
Miwel Skate
10 December 2023
Maravilloso lugar , recomendable al 100% . Sólo estuvimos comiendo , pero tanto el trato como la comida increíble. Deseando regresar y alojarnos allí.
Noelia Núñez García
6 November 2023
Un lugar con encanto escondido en un paraje natural extremeño. Una estancia magnífica, al complejo no le falta detalle y esta muy cuidado, las habitaciones son cómodas y con todos los accesorios necesarios, el servicio de limpieza hace un trabajo excepcional. Hay que mencionar el trato cercano y atento de todos los trabajadores, desde recepción a cocina pasando por todos los que allí hacen tu estancia tan idílica. Comimos fenomenal y no dieron muchos consejos para visitar la zona y disfrutar de los alrededores. Lo recomiendo 100%.
Beverly Marple
3 November 2023
The property was an old abandoned olive mill with a babbling brook running alongside, that was once used to press olive oil. Back then, the main structure was literally the place where they pressed the olives. When you see the giant press and mechanics which are still in place, you get a very real sense of the history. Today, the property has been preserved, restored, and reimagined into a charming hotel retreat in the stunning countryside of Villamiel, Spain. The rooms are well-appointed, with much thought, care and attention to detail. Likewise, the staff are highly skilled at making everyone feel right at home, has whatever they need, and ensuring your plans will run smoothly, just as planned. I can't say enough about this magical place and the people who make it all happen. There is so much to do and see in the area, as well. We can't wait to come back to explore more of Extramatura and the surrounding areas.
25 October 2023
Great place to stay! "The staff are amazingly friendly and gave us excellent service."

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where history meets luxury—each room a unique story