I have lived in several places in Spain and I’ve been able to see a large part of this diverse country, try out its amazing food in different regions, drink its great wine and see its beautifully contrasting landscape. That made me ponder my final Spanish subject to write about before I leave Spain once again after an extended stay… I could talk about the delicious Spanish tapas, Spanish wine or maybe something more serious such as the extremely high unemployment rate in Spain…
All interesting topics but also topics that have been discussed often and extensively so I decided to go for something most tourists visiting Spain and even a lot of expats living in Spain, don’t know much about: Paradores.
Some of the most unique hotels in Spain
Sleep in a Spanish fortress, monastery or castle…
Paradores de Turismo de España is a chain of Spanish luxury hotels, founded by King Alfonso XIII of Spain as a means to promote tourism in Spain. The first Parador, Parador de Gredos in Ávila, was opened in 1928 by the King himself and today there are 94 Paradores from 3 to 5 stars all across Spain.
The concept behind Paradores is to open exceptional historic properties to the public, and use the hotels profits to maintain these beautiful buildings. Most of them also have excellent restaurants offering traditional cuisine at a high standard using local and seasonal produce. The Hostal dos Reis Católicos in Santiago de Campostela is considered to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the world, and one of the finest Spanish Paradores.
In addition to having establishments in ten World Heritage cities (Toledo, Segovia, Ávila, Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca, Córdoba, Santiago de Compostela, Cuenca, Cáceres and Mérida), more than half of the Paradores are set in buildings of historical significance. Many others allow travelers to stay in national parks and in the most interesting natural areas of the country.
Regardless of the Parador’s date or style, they all are refurbished to a high standard offering all modern comforts, as long as they comply with protected building regulations. Prices at Spanish Paradores vary depending on the room, region and season and are by no means only affordable to the wealthier among us.
Paradores stretch from Galicia in the north-west through Catalonia to Andalusia in the south of Spain, the Canary Islands and to the Spanish cities in North Africa.
Parador comes from the Spanish word ‘parar’ which means to stop, halt or stay. And even if you can’t stay in one of these amazing hotels, stop at one for a meal, a drink or just to have a look at the amazing buildings.
These hotels are a well kept secret
So why doesn’t everyone know about these hotels? While I’m sure every Spanish person has heard of Paradores, as a traditional Spanish company they seem to have long overlooked the power of advertising in foreign languages and kept promoting their hotels mainly in Spanish.
Nowadays though you can book through their website in English: www.parador.es/en
At the same time interesting videos showcasing their beautiful hotels such as the one below are only available in Spanish… Watch it anyway though, even if you don’t speak Spanish because the video gives a great snapshot of some of Spain’s beautiful historic buildings kept alive by Paradores.