Two Great Castle Hotels in Spain

These two lovely castle hotels are in Malaga province, Andalucia one overlooking Malaga town and port with the Mediterranean Sea as its backdrop. The other in the mountain town of  Monda not far inland from the coast of Marbella.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina

Wind up from the coast, through a now residential area, and you’ll discover this old summer palace/mansion built on the site of a castle with some romantic ruins within the grounds.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina, Malaga

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina was built by King Phillip IV in 1624 as part of the city’s defences but it didn’t survive long and by the early 20th century the fortress was in ruins. Manuel Loring, Count of Mieres and local of Malaga  had a summer residence built next to it to catch those cooling sea breezes in the heat of July and August.

Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina, Malaga

French architects Levard and Lahalle designed the neo-Arabian style palace which now sits overlooking the bay of Malaga. It was named Castillo de Santa Catalina and is now a 4* star hotel maintaining many original aspects, now shabby-chic decor and of course those fabulous views from its heyday.

With only eight rooms you really do feel like the king of the castle here, we barely saw another guest on our stay.

Hotel Castillo de Monda

Climb up from the coast into the mountains and you’ll find lots of small towns but the most impressive is the town of Monda with its castle atop and town almost surrounding it. The castle with its origins in the IX century was conquered by the Catholic Kings and ordered to be pulled down in 1485 but it wasn’t until an uprising in 1568 that it was practically raised to the ground.

Hotel Castillo de Monda, Malaga

These days there is very  little of the original structure to be seen but the Castle today was designed in a traditional style. The hotel entrance is accessed by a high entry gate and pretty patio, all 25 rooms have lovely views and the salt pool, bar and restaurant on the top floor even better ones.

Hotel Castillo de Monda, Malaga

This is a privately managed hotel and offers relaxation, spa treatments, we had the salt pool to ourselves and it has a very good restaurant so there’s no need to leave your castle at all.

 

Read my review of Hotel Castillo de Santa Catalina

See Hotel Castillo de Monda on my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels site

 

 

 

Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important

Why are some hotel breakfasts so bad? I just have to say….

Breakfast is something I can take  or leave at home. Nothing special, important yes but a banquet, no. There’s never time. So when away, for me the breakfast really is the make or break of a great hotel. It’s often my last impression as we eat and leave. It’s the way for hotels to really sing and dance but often it’s very disappointing.

Hotel La Gastrocasa Breakfast

Hotel La Gastrocasa

A great hotel, and I presume most hotels want to be great at what they provide, have to lay on a finale – the final spread. So why don’t they? How often have you looked over the selection and felt let down?  With no real desire to eat because it’s so uninspiring. What about the coffee machine? Does it grumble like an old man? Take ages? And then the coffee is just plain awful.

Hotel Viento 10
Hotel Viento 10

For larger hotels, yes it’s more difficult but I’m talking about those small, boutique, charming hotels that forget their charm in the morning, like a lover who sneaks out in the night.

Hotel Los Castaños
Hotel Los Castaños

What does it for me? Juice has to be juice. Freshly squeezed. Personally grapefruit or orange or the chance to have a mixture. I don’t want bacon and eggs but hubby would if on offer and freshly cooked but not when congealing and cold.

A choice of wholemeal bread and a toaster that doesn’t take forever then spit the toast out or loose it at the back. Extra virgen olive oil, fresh tomatoes preferably grated,  a choice of chopped fruit  and good coffee, made to order or maybe an Earl Grey tea (but I often have a tea bag with me.)

Hotel Breakfasts are Very Important – to me. Are they to you? Please leave a comment and  let me know what you think and/or some great and not so great breakfasts you’ve experienced.

The Hotel Breakfasts in the photos are ones I paricularly enjoyed and the hotels are on my Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels site. I’ve linked each to its page below.

Hotel Viento 10, Cordoba

Hotel La Gastrocasa, Gandia

Hotel Los Castaños, Malaga

See my post on Two Great Small Hotels.

Avila and Hotel Valderrabanos

My first to visit to Avila was one of pure surprise and delight. Having chosen a hotel within the city walls  our ( with hubby ) explorations began. Normally I research and vaguely plan what to do when heading to a new place, plot the must-sees, maybe the odd good eating place or two, this time it’d been so busy I hadn’t looked at anything.

City Walls, Avila

Our drive was long but Spanish roads inland are often very quiet and nearly always have great views. On arriving in Avila our first sighting of the city walls was a ‘wow’ moment. We had many more. The huge city walls which are intact stretch 2km or so around the old city and most surprising after living in the heat of Andalucia, and in summer, was grass. Outside the walls were carpets of deep, green grass, something we miss being English. What a fabulous contrast that bright blue sky and green, green grass.

City Walls, Avila

As Avila is the highest city in Spain you can imagine the views from the city walls are pretty impressive, they are. Walking the ramparts around about half of the walls is amazing. Most towers are accessible too. I tried to imagine what the inside of the city walls were like in the days the castle was needed for protection, now it’s pretty much full of buildings, and some lovely ones there are.

Hotel Valderabbanos, Avila

Hotel Valderrabanos, a XIV century palace, is right next to the cathedral in a pedestrian plaza, close to loads of fabulous monuments. The Hotel has recently undergone renovations and  the once shabby chic hotel, now  is comfortably charming, with some gorgeous original features, wide corridors, stained glass windows and gorgeous old wooden doors. I’m rather partial to ancient wooden doors.

Hotel Valderabbanos, Avila

Would I stay there again? Yes but, seeing as we rarely stay in the stay place twice because of wanting to experience other hotels too, it’s unlikely.

The main problem with this and other hotels within the city walls is the lack of parking but unloading is allowed then the car has to be taken outside the walls and parked. It is rather pleasant that vehicles are limited in the monumental areas so I can’t have it all ways I guess!

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Being a moutainous area and cold in winter, we’d seen snow sticks on the access roads, one of the specialities of Avila is its huge steaks. T-bones and rump beef, pork and lamb the latter which is rather rare in Andalucia barbecued or chargrilled. These are definitely the dishes you should sample here, meat lover or not.