Spain’s Awe-Inspiring Hotel Chain
We’re currently driving across Spain via paradores. Paradores can be found in most Latin countries, para meaning to stay or stop. In Spain, the paradores are a network of over 90 state-run hotels consisting of restored castles, monasteries, convents, fortresses, manor houses and palaces, and are found in some of the most beautiful corners of the Iberian Peninsula.
They’re classified into different types; ‘Esentia’ – monumental and historic hotels, ‘Civia’ – urban hotels, and ‘Naturia’ – hotels close to the coast and nature. But there are also modernist masterpieces, as in this one in Lorca, which is built to incorporate the archaeological finds on the site.
The great thing about them is their monumental glamour; many are high up and built on a gigantic scale. They are also reasonably priced and utterly unpretentious. The downside is that their restaurants can feel bland and corporate. They’re not for lovers of boutique frou-frou.
In many paradores the walls are so thick that you feel cold in high, high temperatures. But for their size, they can be quirky. I stayed in one parador in a nunnery where the staff had arranged the breakfast fruit into weird religious scenarios, and another which had a baronial hall filled with suits of armour and a giant staircases dwarfing anything from a Hammer horror film.
It’s a pity the UK hasn’t done the same with its national trust properties. It would be nice to wake up in them instead of visiting for an hour.
With just Valencia left on the trip it’ll soon be time to head back to London and decide what to write next. I’ll be asking for your help in that decision in the coming days!