Many of the finest Spanish castles have been converted into luxurious hotels that will make you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.
The landscape of Spain is dotted with castles and palaces that have loomed over cities and villages for centuries. Kings, queens, princes and princesses don’t reside in these magnificent medieval structures anymore – but you can. In the 20th century, many of the finest Spanish Paradors were converted into hotels that will make you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time. Here are just a handful of your best options for getting the royal treatment.
Parador de Granada
Located inside the Alhambra UNESCO World Heritage Site, Parador de Granada was built by Catholic monarchs on the site of a Nasrid palace. Today, the castle, which was first constructed in 1238 A.D., is a window into Spain’s diverse past, when Christians and Muslims mixed freely – the Nasrid were the last Muslim dynasty in Iberia. The Nazarí Room here is a prime example, blending the aesthetic styles of these vibrant cultures with engravings, portraits and furniture. Explore the enchanting and extensive gardens, relax by the intricate fountains, and soak in views of the Alhambra from each room. The dining room here is exquisite as well – don’t miss the “Gazpacho Andaluz,” a cold soup beloved by Andalusians.
Parador de Alarcón
The Middle Ages come to life at Parador de Alarcón. High atop the dramatic cliffs of Pico de los Hidalgos, overlooking the waters of the Júcar River, this 14th-century castle is straight out of a fairy tale. The rooms here have an otherworldly feeling, where contemporary touches and comfort meet old world design – canopied bed, anyone? The impressive ramparts, watchtowers and passageways all speak to Parador de Alarcón former status as one of Spain’s most formidable fortress – some rooms even feature “arrow slit” windows for archers. No one’s laying siege to the castle these days, however. They’re coming up the winding mountain road to live like a king or queen – for a night or two at least!
Parador de León
Located on the picturesque outskirts of historic León in northern Spain, Parador de León was commissioned in the 16th century by King Ferdinand the Catholic. He employed some of the finest Spanish and French architects and sculptors to create the astonishingly detailed carved façade, towering columns and beautiful cloisters. Today, you can enjoy all Parador de León has to offer, including elegantly appointed guestrooms, a library stuffed with rare and historic volumes, and a restaurant that features the best flavors from traditional local cuisine, accompanied by excellent wines from the Bierzo and Tierra de León regions.
Parador de Oropesa
The ancestral home of the prestigious Álvarez de Toledo family, Parador de Oropesa was built all the way back in 986. That’s relatively new, however; Oropesa itself is thought to be one of the oldest inhabited sites in all of Spain. Stroll through the castle’s grand courtyard, and climb to the top of the Homenaje Tower, boasting spectacular views of vineyards, olive groves and the snowcapped Sierra de Gredos mountains – the perfect central Spain panorama. Want to supercharge the feeling of time travel? Book a stay Oropesa’s Medieval Days, when the town recreates its colorful past every April.
Parador de Alcañiz
A castle/monastery that dates back to the 12th century, Parador de Alcañiz is highlighted by a serene garden, Gothic wall paintings, a Plateresque sepulcher and a baroque façade. For a truly royal experience, book the Alfonso el Batallador suite, spread over two sumptuous floors in the castle’s southern tower, boasting breathtaking views of the Teruel town of Alcañiz and the Guadalope River. And don’t miss the chance to explore the town itself, with an amazing array of underground passages and the famed Fountain of 72 Spouts.