Have you come across this Spanish word before? A ‘Parador’ is a state-run tourist hotel usually found in rural beauty spots or places of historical interest. The Parador in Spain is often converted from interesting buildings such as castles or monasteries and offers much more than just bed and breakfast.
The origins of the Parador
Paradors originated right back in 1910 when the Marqúes de la Vega Inclán was assigned the task of creating a group of hotels in Spain. The first was The Parador de Gredos which was opened in 1928. However the Parador claiming to be one of the oldest hotels in the world is the Hostal los Reyes Católicos which is set in the northern city of Santiago de Compostela. It was originally built as a 15th century hospital at the end of this world-famous pilgrimage route.
It is perhaps particularly interesting that the Spanish Paradors are state run and yet continue to prosper in a market which is traditionally highly competitive. Perhaps some of their success is down to their determination to appeal to a whole range of tourists rather than a restricted market. There are deals for the over 55s, young people between 18 and 30 and those wanting a wedding in a stunning location.
Some of the Paradors are particularly well positioned for a golfing holiday or have their own spas and gymnasiums. If you want more than an overnight stay in one hotel you might try a Parador ‘route’. These are three night stays in hotels with a particular theme and in a particular vicinity. So, for example, you can sample three different hotels in the west of Spain on the ‘Route of the Castle’ or travel from the Costa Blanca to the Costa del Azahar staying each night in a different Parador.
As a result of this being a ‘chain’ there is a level of conformity – which means that you can expect quality assurance when booking your stay. There seems to be a healthy blend of uniformity and individuality. Hotels share common promotions but are also promoted according to their own individual strengths.
The Paradors offer special rates for young people under 30 and have a discount rate of 10% for those over 55. Alongside this are a number of special offers and you should browse the website to select what’s best for you. The ‘Find your Parador’ page includes a map of Spain showing where each Parador is located and enables you to find one quickly and easily in an area that you might particularly want to visit.You can access more information about individual hotels from the site.
The prices of the Paradors do vary and another feature on the website enables you to pick your price and view what’s on offer. Don’t forget though that there will also be special promotions that might bring the price down even further. This really is a very good way of finding a recommended hotel to meet your needs at a reasonable price and with easy booking online.
We can’t begin to cover the full range of Paradors in this article. After all, they are each unique. However,we have chosen three examples we’ve put on our ‘wish list’ perhaps they will tempt you too.
Parador de Zafra
Building: This castle was originally the Palace of the Dukes of Feria and dates back to 1437. There are stunning grand surroundings with courtyards, terraces and minstrel galleries
Location: The Parador is set in Zafra city centre, an old city dating back to before the Roman Empire.
Price range: 80 to 100€
Strengths: the hotel has a swimming pool and beautiful gardens. As you would expect the accommodation itself is spacious, airy and full of character.
Parador de Santiago de Compostela
Building: The building was originally a royal hospital in 1499 for the benefit of pilgrims travelling to Santiago. It is considered to be the oldest hotel in the world.
Location: Santiago de Compostela in the north of Spain is famous as being the ultimate destination of those walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. The hotel is situated near the cathedral in the old quarter.
Price range: 200 to 400€
Strengths: This is a really spectacular building in a spectacular location. It might be a bit more expensive but it does have excellent ratings.
Parador de Mojácar
Building: Paradors aren’t always converted from ancient monuments and if you’re wanting a slightly more modern building this Parador might be just right for you.
Location: Mojácar is a beautiful town characterised by its white Spanish houses clustered on the hillside.
Price range: 85 to 145€
Strengths: It includes a swimming pool set against stunning views – one way of relaxing, enjoying a swim and not being nose to tail with package holiday makers. Although built more recently than most of the other Paradors, there is just as much attention to detail.
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