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- Staying within the walls of one of Europe’s most iconic historical sites, Granada’s Alhambra fortress, and being able to stroll around the grounds after the tourist hordes have left feels like an exclusive experience and that it certainly is. The only way to do this is to stay in the luxury Parador de Granada, something which makes it one of Andalusia’s and Spain’s most desired hotels and so, unless you are lucky, it can be extremely difficult to find a room there without booking months in advance. THE ACCOMMODATION: The accommodation is in a beautifully atmospheric medieval building, a building which was once part of the Alhambra Mosque & Palace later converted into a convent just after the Reconquista. It was also once the burial place of Spain’s most famous Royal couple, King Fernando and Queen Isabel, before their remains were later moved to Granada Cathedral. The spot that was their resting place is still there to be seen today. They have double and twin rooms, some of which also come with a sofa bed to sleep one extra person if needed. There are also 5 suites at the hotel, around 40 metres square they have a separate living room READ MORE
- Parador de Alcañiz is a stunning hilltop castle overlooking the town of the same name between Zaragoza and the Mediterranean. It has a history going all the way back to the 12th century and some of its original features intact, from that time, from the later medieval period and from after its conversion from a defensive fortress to a monastery and then to a residential Palace in the 18th century. The views from all around are absolutely stunning, you could spend many happy, peaceful hours just wandering the atmospheric grounds. Internally, though renovated on numerous occasions over the years (and centuries!), the castle has a very charming old world feel. Much of the common areas – the dining hall in particular – look and feel tremendously medieval, and the food, mostly local and traditional, is excellent. THE ACCOMMODATION: The castle, despite its size, has just under forty rooms in total and so maintains a quite cosy feel. They range from doubles and twins to triples, with extra bedding being available for children. READ MORE
- Parador de Chinchón is a 17th century convent palace, in a charming little town near Madrid, now converted into very classy, stylish and friendly hotel. Kudos go to the interior designers here for keeping a perfect balance between the modern and the historic. The exteriors are very much old style (apart from the obviously modern outdoor swimming pool) and beautifully atmospheric, with a lovely old cloister and traditional gardens perfect for strolling and lounging around in. The interiors are a lovely blend of modern luxury hotel and centuries’ old palace. The original architecture is on display almost everywhere and the majority of the furniture and fittings is antique but you still have all the comforts of a modern luxury hotel. The rooms share the ambience – they are bright, spacious and elegant. There are two restaurants on site with very highly rated food on offer, cheerful service and an atmospheric dining hall. READ MORE
- Parador de Alarcón is a truly stunning 8th century Moorish fortress turned luxury castle hotel, in the village of Alarcón, near Cuenca, Spain. The setting is spectacular, the hotel has a wonderfully authentic historical ambience and it has one of the finest restaurants in the region. THE ACCOMMODATION: Parador Alarcon, though quite a large structure, has only 14 bedrooms and so is very much a boutique hotel. The choices are between standard doubles, standard twins and superior doubles. All of them are beautifully designed and decorated, and have a real touch of class, though the superior doubles, located in the castle tower, are really worth the extra premium. At 28 m² they have plenty of space and come with romantic four poster beds. Though generally rustic in style the accommodation has all mod cons; private bathroom, satellite TV, WiFi, air-con and mini-bar etc. as well as some very luxurious bathrooms. Internally and externally the castle is a stunning place and is lovely to just wander around. It was fully renovated in 2003 and great pains were made to preserve its historical identity, so it does feel very ancient despite the luxury hotel comforts and facilities. Well chosen antique furniture pieces READ MORE
- Most famous former guest: Orson Welles. Parador de Cardona is a towering, 9th century era, hilltop fortress near Barcelona now converted into a beautifully atmospheric, modern luxury hotel. It is seen as the most important medieval fortress in Catalonia and one of the most important in Spain, the strategic setting allowing jaw dropping views and the castle itself still retaining a strong historical ambience. THE ACCOMMODATION: They have a choice of rooms; doubles, twins and triples and some large double suites. The rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable and furnished in a generally modern, quite minimalist style. The building as a whole is incredibly impressive and steeped in Catalan history, and though the rooms are of a high standard and have some historical details here and there, they generally lack the medieval ambience of much of the rest of the castle. A wander around the grounds of Parador de Cardona as the sun sets is the best way to soak up some of that lovely ambience, you can admire its sturdy ancient walls and towers, the romanesque Church of Sant Vicenç de Cardona and the 11th century Torre de la Minyona for example with the views from the top of READ MORE
- The 5 Star Parador de Santiago – Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos is an integral part of the historic core of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, and one of the world’s very oldest hotels. It is located on Obradoiro Square beside the cathedral which marks the end of the infamous Camino de Santiago something the hotel is intrinsically linked with. It was commissioned by King Ferdinand in 1499 as a place of rest and recuperation for pilgrims. A mixture between a medical hospital and a hotel, known in those days as a hostal, guests were originally allowed a free stay of 3 nights in summer and 5 nights in winter courtesy of the Spanish Crown, a deal which sadly is not available to modern pilgrims. ACCOMMODATION: You have a choice of accommodation at the Parador, from basic double and twin rooms through what they term superior rooms and then suites. The suites are probably not worth the extra premium, the basic rooms might be a little underwhelming, especially when being part of such a gorgeous building, and so we feel the best value lies in the superior rooms. All of the rooms and suites have a very distinct historical ambience, READ MORE
- Castillo de Arteaga is a fabulous Neo-Gothic castle hotel near Guernica in the rolling hills of the Basque Country. The present day structure was built in honour of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Imperial of France, in the mid 19th century, on the site of a ruined castle dating from the mid 15th century. Its four grand towers now make a very imposing sight over the wilds of the Urdaibai Nature Reserve and its interiors are a lavish feast for the eyes, though it has been fairly recently renovated the design and decoration remain true to the historical essence. The castle has just 13 rooms & suites for overnight stays and so has very much an intimate, boutique hotel feel. It can also pleasantly feel more like a stay in the home of a long lost relative rather than a stereotypical hotel stay. The small number of rooms and the quality of its hospitality though means it should be booked well in advance. THE ACCOMMODATION: The castle’s 13 rooms are divided between standard double and twin rooms, junior suites and full suites. The standard rooms are anything but standard, they are spacious, comfortable and beautifully decorated, and they offer very good value READ MORE
- Most Famous Residents: Ferdinand II of Aragon, Isabella I of Castile. Castillo del Buen Amor/Buen Amor Castle near Salamanca, Spain, and less than two hours from Madrid, is a splendidly atmospheric place with a history going all the way back to 1227, and the reign of King Alfonso IX. The property is huge, with a great amount of common space; there are a total of seven living rooms for example and outside there are beautiful gardens, a vineyard, a maze, a pine forest and a saltwater swimming pool. THE ACCOMMODATION: They have a range of rooms and suites, 41 in total and all doubles or twins (all with king or queen size beds as standard), from Standard Rooms through Deluxe and Superior Rooms to the largest of all, the Junior Suites. Check your options on the booking page here. In most hotels there would be a great difference between these room types but the standard rooms here are elegant and spacious enough to warrant a grander title perhaps. The deluxe and superior rooms though, apart from being slightly more ornate, have more space and more natural light and, as the price difference is relatively small, it’s probably worth the upgrade. A READ MORE