Unique and authentic are two words that come to mind when describing the Spanish government’s paradors, properties usually located in castles, monasteries and palaces across the country, with an average of 60 rooms each. There are 94 properties in total, offering a boutique and personalized experience for guests.
The parador of Santo Estuvo in the heart of Galicia, is a former monastery set in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The name coming from the Spanish verb, parar, means to stop or stay, with no two paradors looking the same or having the same story. Of the 13 UNESCO-recognized cities in Spain, paradors can be found in 11 of them. Indeed, you may find yourself sleeping in a room where kings and queens have slept before you! While each property is historical, the service and amenities are very modern, so guests will enjoy comfortable stays ranging from three- to five-star accommodations and even beyond.
The parador at Cardona is within a 9th century castle atop a hill overlooking the historic town of Cardona.
For example, the most recently-opened parador in the town of Lorca, Murcia, sits within the 13th century Castle of Lorca, a meeting point of three cultures (Islamic, Jewish and Christian). While doing excavations there, a perfectly preserved synagogue was discovered where a convent had been built on top. Another example, the parador of Granada, is a small four-star hotel in a 15th century convent which is part of the famous palace of Alhambra. This is Spain’s most popular parador and reservations usually have to be made months in advance.
On the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, Leon’s parador is a living museum of stately rooms dating from the 16th century. There are special rates for pilgrims.
It is exceptional to find a national government that is also a very successful hotelier. In this case, Spain deserves unqualified recognition as a uniquely gifted host. Bookings for all paradors may be made through www.parador.es/en. Note the special Golden Days discounts in all paradors for clients 55 years old or better and special parador discounts along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across Northern Spain for people who are walking parts of the Camino as pilgrims. To learn more about the pilgrimage options, see our collection of richly-illustrated articles about experiencing the Camino in different ways.