Spain Travel Tip: Stay in a Castle or Palace (for Less Than a Hotel)

a room with two beds and a table
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On my trip to Spain last fall, one of the highlights was getting to stay in a 10th century castle. Especially when that stay was cheaper than many hotels in the area!

Spain’s Paradores — historic castles, palaces, and monasteries owned by the state and run as hotels — are a fairly unique and little known option to the casual traveler.

a city with a river and mountains in the background
My view of downtown Tortosa from the Parador battlements

Not only do they tend to be affordable, but because of their history they tend to be located in the best parts of town — high on a hill overlooking the city, the best view on the water, etc.

a pool with a deck and lounge chairs
Sit poolside on the coast at the Parador de Cadiz

The on-site restaurants serve fresh local cuisine and is typically located in the original great hall, so you may find yourself at one of a dozen tables under a lofty ceiling.

a restaurant with a stone arch and stone walls
Dining at the “oldest hotel in the world in Santiago de Compostela”

While I suspect many of the locations are a bit more basic than the 4* luxury stay they promise online, they are perfectly comfortable and a great way to appreciate the history of the building in a more relaxed setting than a tour.  Especially at a place like the Alhambra!

You can stay outside the walls at the plush Alhambra Palace, or you could stay in the Parador de Granada, a 15th century convent on the grounds.

a chair in a room with a glass of wine
Overlooking the courtyard at the Granada Parador

Definitely worth considering when planning your trip to Spain!

Check rates:   |   Orbitz   |   Expedia  |   Priceline |  


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  2. I’m from Spain, though have lived in the U.S. for over two decades. Paradores are a well kept secret in Europe. Europeans know about them, and naturally Spaniards do to, but I’m always surprised that Americans have never heard of them. They’re AMAZING. I’ve been to the Paradores in Avila, Cambados (Galicia, northern Spain), Caceres, and a few others and highly recommend them. They’re absolutely amazing properties. I believe 90% of them are historic properties and around 10% are newer properties, so make sure to read up on the specific Parador you’ll be staying at. At the Paradores located in Castilla y Leon, once you’re surrounded by all the medieval history, you can let your imagination take you back to one of the hundreds of battles fought during the Reconquista (look this up if you’re not familiar with the history of Spain). Some castles have turrets, moats, you name it! These are amazing places. For those interested in early medieval history, I highly recommend the Paradores in Avila, Santiago de Compostela (northewestern Spain), and Carmona (near Sevilla, in Andalucia).

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