Castles, Convents and Rooms with Views; the 93 Paradors of Spain Are Hotels You Want to Spend Time In

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 26, 2012 | Go to article overview

Castles, Convents and Rooms with Views; the 93 Paradors of Spain Are Hotels You Want to Spend Time In


Byline: ROSLYN DEE Award-winning travel writer ros.dee@assocnews.ie

The thing about a great number of hotel 'chains', especially those that fall into the good-value category, is that if you've seen one, you've seen them all. A bit like Lidl supermarkets. When I walked into one of those a couple of years ago on the Greek island of Zakynthos, I knew exactly where the bottled water was. Why? Because the layout was identical to my local Lidl in Greystones.

Parador hotels ain't like that.

Yes, there is a similarity at times when it comes to the set-up of the diningroom, but choose to stay in one of the 93 Spanish, state-owned Paradors and you could end up in a castle (a real one), an old convent, a grand old house of some kind or, indeed, a modern, purpose-built or former hotel structure. The variety is fantastic.

The first Parador I ever stayed in was, in fact, a modern one in Cadiz, formerly the Hotel Atlantico. It is in the most perfect location in this, one of my favourite cities in Spain. Removed from the city's modern 'strip' as it were, this Parador is perched on the coast road in the old town, directly overlooking the sea and with every room having a balcony overlooking the Atlantic.

The city's famous La Caleta beach is two minutes away, as is the old fishermen's quarter where tapas bar upon tapas bar sit cheek by jowl, offering all sorts of delights including one of the specialities of this part of the Costa de la Luz: tiny, fried fish. The Cadiz Parador has been closed for a couple of years while rebuilding takes place but it is scheduled to reopen in September, one of the best months to visit Andalucia.

Over the years, I have also sojourned in the Paradors in Siguenza (a 12th century castle), in Avila (a former convent), in Antequera (modern) and have dined in Ronda (where the hotel overhangs the town's famous gorge), Toledo, Arcos de la Frontera and Segovia. …

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