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.
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, though they may have modern luxury hotel features; wifi, satellite TV, air-con, mini-bar etc., the sense of history is inescapable, something which goes beyond the four poster beds and antique furniture, it really does seem to seep through the walls. The common areas of the hotel even more so, and it is impossible to forget what an ancient and illustrious building it is.
Check out all the details – prices, reviews and more photos – on the booking page here.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
The hotel is large and and you could spend hours happily wandering around the ancient cloisters soaking in the atmosphere. There are many lounge and seating areas too, and bars which include a lovely outdoor terrace area overlooking the square, and where you can idle in the evening watching the weary pilgrims arrive at the cathedral.
It also has two really great restaurants; the Enxebre which serves traditional Galician food, which includes lots of great seafood, and Dos Reis which serves more general Spanish food. The food in both gets consistent rave reviews, particularly at Enxebre which can serves for some as a first introduction to the rich Galician food culture.
Beyond that Parador de Santiago doesn’t really have, or indeed need maybe, much in the line of facilities. It is very much a place to relax and soak in the extraordinary atmosphere, and as a central base to explore the city of Santiago.
The hotel was built as a place of recuperation for pilgrims after the camino so it’s no surprise that it is right at the heart of the city on the famous Plaza do Obradoiro, where the cathedral also lies. You can sit on the Parador’s terrace and watch the tired pilgrims coming and going from the cathedral, with many of them then wandering over to book into the hotel.
There is more to Santiago than the cathedral or the parador though and its historic core is lovely to explore, with an incredible amount of history, particularly religious history to be discovered.
There are many points of interest; the Gemirez and Rajoy Palaces, the Church of Santa Maria Salome, the Monastery of San Marin Pinario, the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People), the Church of Santa Maria del Sar and the Museum of Tapestries being a few of the best examples.
Note: there is no parking on the hotel premises but there are many nearby car parks.
A LITTLE HISTORY:
It was designed be a place where pilgrims from all over Europe could find a free bed for a few nights and rest themselves before having to return to their homeland (for many of them much of the journey home would also be on foot). There guests/patients could find multilingual staff and a team of nurses, doctors, nuns and priests to look after their needs.
The concept was something between a medical hospital and a hotel, entities which came to be known as hostels in later centuries. Hostels, hotels, hospitals and hospices meant the same thing in ancient times; the words have the same origin in Latin (hospes=guest), with the former two now describing what would have been referred to as inns in the Middle Ages, and with the word inn now more likely to be associated with what would have been known as a tavern (a bar).
El Hospital quickly became a very famous place and such was the quality of care for its guests it evolved into something of a centre of medical excellence, attracting some of Spain’s, and Europe’s, best professionals in the field and becoming a medical hospital not only for pilgrims but also for the people of Santiago in general.
Its dual purpose continued well into the 20th century with General Francisco Franco, a native Galician, himself staying there, and it was he who, in 1954, incorporated it into the Spanish State sponsored Parador/historical hotel network. To make the grade much renovation and modernization was needed and once completed Parador de Santiago then opened its doors to paying guest as a luxury hotel, one of Galicia’s finest.
“Amazing location in the square, with a wonderful bar overlooking the square. If you have walked one of the routes into Santiago I can not recommend it enough to be able to sit there with a drink (or food) and watch others coming in and celebrate how far you have come. The hotel is very set up for the high numbers of visitors it has, but has designated areas for guests which tours can not go into, so it maintains the feel and aura of a luxury hotel….”
“Exceptional: This parador is part of the core history of Compostela. It is a beautiful and historic building. Rooms are large and have appropriately antique feel while providing all modern luxuries. The location on the main square cannot be beaten. The staff are friendly and attentive. The only other hotel I could compare it with is Raffles in Singapore. Not cheap but worth every Euro……”
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- 1 Praza do Obradoiro
Santiago de Compostela
- Concierge Services