Many peoples’ visions of vacations in Spain are overwhelmed by crowded beaches, partying teenagers and being harassed on Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The Paradores hotels rewrite all these preconceptions – the group of truly unique properties scattered across Spain’s rural, unspoilt regions and towns introduce visitors to a history-rich Spain. Originally built as castles, convents, fortresses, monasteries, churches and palaces, walking into one of these converted properties is like stepping back in time.
The idea to convert these ancient sites into modern accommodations was first introduced by King Alfonso XIII in 1926 who commissioned the Royal Commissary of Tourism to realise his concept. These exquisite hotels are steeped in Iberian history and offer some of the most spectacular settings. Here are a few exemplary properties to whet your Spanish appetite.
Parador de Oropesa, Castile La Mancha
This was originally the ancestral home of the Alvarez de Toledo (Counts of Oropesa). Situated in the Castilian countryside, west of Madrid, it was often used as a refuge for soldiers, noblemen and monks and has a spectacular backdrop of the phenomenal snow-capped Gredos mountain range. There are some quite extraordinary panoramic views of the many vineyards and olive groves, which are best viewed from the top of the Homenaje Tower.
This beautiful castle underwent restoration in 1402 to produce the building that can be seen today and now as a 4 star hotel, provides luxury accommodation whilst managing to retain many charming and historical features.
The courtyard features original columns, arches and authentic embellishments, whilst common areas like the restaurant feature unique vaulted wooden ceilings and antique lighting. The hotel is known for the game and seasonal produce which forms the basis for many of their fantastic dishes.
Parador de Ubeda, Andalusia
The intricate arches and charming inner courtyard with a double gallery will sweep you back to the 16thcentury when the building was constructed as a palace for Dom Fernando Ortego Salido, the Dean of Malaga. It is situated in the renaissance square of Ubeda which houses some of the most beautiful buildings in the area.
Opened as a Parador hotel in 1930, it owes its name to the soldier, Ruy Lopez de Davalos, who was held there in captivity. His portrait now resides over the fireplace in the hotel’s restaurant.
The upper part of the courtyard gallery leads off to the guest bedrooms and is reached by climbing a rather grand staircase. Six of the bedrooms and the suite overlook the Plaza de Vasquez. The square leads to the street, Calle Valencia, where there are numerous craftsmen’s studios, displaying local handicrafts.
The dining room serves international, Spanish and regional cuisine. Specialities include a cold, garlic soup; peppers stuffed with partridge; and the local sausage – perfect for an all round gastro-historic experience.
Parador de Pontevedra, Galicia
A stunning, grand renaissance palace where the Counts of Maceda once resided, this Parador dates back to the 16th century. The interior still boasts the sweeping royal staircases, numerous antiques and distinguished furniture. Located in the oldest part of Pontevedra, its an ideal starting point for visitors who love walking and taking in the sites. There are many porticos and little palaces to discover in the local area.
Pontevedra is not far from the beautiful beaches of A Lanzada, Bueu and Sanxenxo and the thriving city of Vigo. The interior of the Parador still has a regal and stately design and the bedrooms are located at the top of the carved stone staircase.
The dining area keeps with esteemed traditions and is decorated with candelabras, mirrors and many paintings. Here, the menu offers a selection of local fish, meat and shellfish, accompanied by a generous choice of excellent regional wines.
These are just a couple of the many Spain historic hotels which will introduce any newcomer to the Iberian peninsula to the beauty and history of the land; and further enchant any frequent visitors.
This was a guest post written by Holly Maguire (escapio.com).