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.
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. Check your options on the booking page here.
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 abound and many fine 20th century paintings by the likes of Antoni Tàpies, Eusebio Sempere, Amadeo Gabino and Menchu Gal adorn the walls.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
The castle is low on facilities, the real joy of the place comes from leisurely strolls around the castle and the grounds, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the tremendous views.
It does though have a fabulous restaurant with a very elegant dining hall. There you can become acquainted with some of the rich cuisine the surrounding La Mancha and Levante regions of Spain.
The menu doesn’t stray often from local, regional dishes with sturdy classic like La Mancha stew, morteruelo game pâté, lomo de orza and ajo mortero, gachas de mortas, as well as some freshly caught fish from the adjacent Júcar River. Be sure to try some desserts here too, like their cheese ice-cream and sweet almond sauces (suspiros) for which the area around Alarcón is famous for. There is a bar and cafe at the castle too with a great choice of Spanish wines on offer.
The castle bears the name of the little hilltop village in which it is located, it is one of central Spain’s most lovely, and historic, and it still has a beautifully medieval ambience. The hotel reception can arrange various activities in the surrounding area too such as horse riding, fishing, hiking, canoeing, mountain bike riding and various excursions including local winery tours.
By the banks of the Júcar River, Parador Alarcón is, as mentioned, at the entrance to one of Spain’s loveliest villages. There you can visit the famous Santa María Church with its beautiful Renaissance era altarpiece, and Castañeda Palace and enjoy some stunning views of the surrounding countryside. This countryside is full of natural beauty too, with wetlands, woodlands, small river beaches, rocky coves and the Alarcón Gorge, a particularly good spot for hiking.
The city of Cuenca is 80 km away, Madrid 180 km and Valencia 170.
A LITTLE HISTORY:
Parador Alarcón goes back a long way. It was built by the Moors in the 8th century, under the jurisdiction of the Emirate of Córdoba, and remained with them until the 1184 when, after a nine month siege, it was captured by King Alfonso VIII.
In the early 14th century, Ferdinand IV of Castile granted the castle to the writer, Don Juan Manuel, a nephew of Alfonso X of Castile, and it was at Alarcón that he wrote most of his works.
It passed three generations with his family before being returned to the crown by King Peter of Castile. In 1372 Henry II of Castile then granted it to Alfonso I of Aragon, along with the title Marquis of Villena, then 23 years later took it back.
In the 15th century, it, and the title, was passed to Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, on May 23, 1446. The Marquises would later side with Joanna of Castile in her struggle for the throne against the infamous King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and despite being on the losing side they managed to hold on to the castle and their lineage remained in place for the next few hundred years.
The castle become vacant during the Middle Ages and slowly began to deteriorate until 1712 when its then owner, the Marquis of Aguilar, renovated it and made it habitable again.
It was sold in 1720 to Duke Alejandro de Alarcón and Duchess Julia de Alarcón, and passed hands a few times until 1863 when it was bought by Rafael Lázaro Álvarez de Torrijos. It remained with the Álvarez de Torrijos family until 1963 and would open three years later as a Parador hotel under its new owner Manuel Fraga Iribarne.
WHAT OTHER GUESTS SAY:
“Wow! This parador is a cracker. It is in a lovely location, has amazing views, the staff are friendly and professional and the meals we had there were outstanding. Try the Thistle Stew for something completely different and delightful. The waitress for our evening meal in the restaurant was excellent as was our room which was in the tower and had an amazing view over the village of Alarćon. Overall a terrific place to visit so as Molly Meldrum would say, “do yourself a favour” and go and book a night at Parador de Alarćon….”
“The uniqueness of staying in a castle was amazing. It was a stunning , clean hotel with lovely staff. Lift to our 5th floor – even in a castle! So thankfully no stairs with lots of luggage! Food in the restaurant was really good. Only 14 rooms at this hotel so very quiet!…”
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- Avenida Amigos de los Castillos, 3, Alarcón