One of the many things I love about living in rural Andalucia is the quietness. Peaceful countryside, vast vistas and empty roads. Open roads, sweeping views, gorgeous scenery. Mountains, valleys, olive groves and swathes of sunflower fields. Each small white town, lies as if planted in nature and can be seen as a dot in the distance growing larger. Narrow streets, plants cascading from balconies and pots…….. Read More.
I expect you’ve heard of Parador hotels but did you know they also have suggested routes around Spain? There’s a huge range of itineraries taking in different Paradors throughout Spain mostly of three or seven nights but you can easily add more routes or just extra nights to your route or trip.
My nearest one is the Parador de Santa Catalina in Jaen, a fabulous castle on a hill-style building with incredible views. Some Paradors are modern builds, others fabulous historical buildings.
Which route would you choose to go on? It’s hard I know and this isn’t all of them, but personally I’d choose the historical castles or monasteries which are not only gorgeous buildings but usually have beautiful far-reaching views too.
Parador Hotel Routes
- Palencia Mountains and Picos de Europa Route
- Caceres, Monfragüe National Park and Jarandilla Route
- Montserrat to the Aran Valley Route
- Costa Blanca (White Coast) to Costa del Azahar (Blossom Coast) Route
- Nasrid Route
- Don Quixote Route
- Gredos Natural Reserve and Monfragüe National Reserve Route
- La Mancha wines and National Park of Las Tablas de Daimiel Route
- St. Teresa Route
- Almoravid and Almohad Route
- Andalusi Legacy Route
- Castle Route
- Costa de la Luz Route
- Galician Wine Route
- Green Spain Route
- Kingdom of Leon Route
- Maestrazgo region Route
- Mediterranean Route
- Monastery Route
- Mozarab Route
- Portuguese St. James Way Route
- Ribeira Sacra Route
- Ribeira del Duero Wine Route
- Pyranees Route
- Rioja and Navarre Wine Route
- Rueda and Toro Wine Route
- Royal Sites Route
- St. James Way Route
- Southern Sun Route
- El Cid Route
- Wine and Monastery Route
These routes were chosen to offer not only accommodation but activites in the surroundings too. What better way to visit Spain than having freedom to explore but a framework of what you should see in and around each town, city or Parador.
I would do them all if I had time, driving in Spain is easy, the roads, except in cities, quiet and there are always stunning views.
Top Ten Paradors
According to Trip Advisor the Top Ten Paradors in Spain are:
1. Parador de Santo Estevo, Ourense
2. Parador de Alcala de Henares, Madrid
3. Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos, A Coruña
4. Parador de Cangas de Onis, Asturias
5. Parador de Plasencia, Caceres
6. Parador de Carmona, Seville
7. Parador de Oropesa, Toledo
8. Parador de Cadiz
9. Parador de Alcañiz, Teruel
10. Parador de Chinchon, Madrid
All photos are courtesy http://www.parador.es
Overlooking the Mediterranean sea and city of Malaga the Hotel Santa Catalina has the best view of the city and it’s only a brief taxi ride or short walk down the Malaga’s port, shopping and old town.
Sitting on the hill Santa Catalina in the El Limonar part of town the Santa Catalina castle began life by order of King Felipe IV in 1624 as the ultimate viewpoint to keep watch for invaders.
For a long time the unused castle fell into disrepair and was abandoned, later an Arab-style gentleman’s residence was built on the spot, retaining the castle ruins which lend a romantic feel to the now hotel grounds with over 3,500 metres of gardens and terraces.
After being declared a listed building the hotel has without a doubt the best views of Malaga. History, romance, best views and gorgeous well-preserved mansion make this a wonderful setting for a visit to the Costa del Sol and a great location for a wedding.
My passion is antique Spanish tiles and they were in abundance in this lovely historic castle hotel to which I’d happily return.
I stayed earlier this year with my hubby on an elongated airport pick-up-family trip, which was funded by ourselves. All the photos @Hotel Castillo de Malaga
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Hotel Breakfasts are very important. It’s often the last impression as we eat breakfast before leaving. It’s the way for hotels to really sing and dance but …. often it’s very disappointing.
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. A great breakfast. 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.
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.
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 only lukewarm.
A choice of wholemeal bread and a toaster that doesn’t take forever then spit the toast out or loose it down the back. Extra virgin 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 ‘my’ brand tea bag with me.)
What makes a good to fabulous breakfast for you?
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 have particularly enjoyed and rated highly, you can find these hotels 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.
Paradors are a great option when looking to travel around Andalucia with some fabulous historical hotels and more modern-style ones too. If you’re heading to the famous cities of Cordoba, Granada and Sevilla for example you’ll find a modern sprawling hotel, an old convent in the grounds of The Alhambra and a fabulous Moorish castle.
If National Parks or beaches or more your style then try the Hotel Parador de Cazorla in Spain’s largest National Park in Jaen province or the Parador de Ronda on the famous Tajo Gorge. The modern Parador de Mojacar is right across from the beach as is the Parador de Nerja which is on the famous Balcon de Europa.
Plenty of styles and locations, historical and contemporary but the standards don’t vary.
My choice of Paradors and route for those exploring Andalucia’s cities for the first time and wanting to stay in historical Paradors are:
Arcos de la Frontera
For beach lovers and contemporary hotels:
To see the whole collection visit Paradors.
All images copyright Parador Hotels
The luxurious, elegant, historical 5* Hotel Hilton Sa Torre Mallorca Resort, with a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2015 is just fabulous. Built in and around a 14th century residence and complete with an ancient Neogothic chapel and windmill here you’ll find the best Mallorcan hospitality with a wonderfully eclectic ancient/modern feel.
With 90 classic or contempory rooms, a Pure Spa, indoor pool and childrens and adults outdoor pools and Hilton Fitness gym. There’s also tennis courts, a football pitch all within extensive gardens and grounds.
Hotel Hilton Sa Torre Mallorca Resort – A unique island retreat.