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At the Spanish paradors, state-owned luxury hotels,  you get amazing quality at a great price.  Here is Parador Málaga Gibralfaro.
At the Spanish paradors, state-owned luxury hotels, you get amazing quality at a great price. Here is Parador Málaga Gibralfaro.

Spanish paradors – luxury at a bargain price

You get what you pay for, as the saying goes. Sometimes, though, you get more than what you pay for. Spanish paradors offer the height of luxury and quality at a low price. With age discounts too.

The tight lines of the Parador Alcalá de Henares just outside Madrid are broken up by curved passageways and soft materials. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, with bathrooms that give you that spa feeling. Outside is the beautiful park, which highlights elements of the city’s literary heritage. Three illuminated letters in a tree are a reminder to guests that this is a cradle of literature. It really is a beautiful hotel and is very popular with residents from the local region.

“People come here to celebrate confirmations, weddings, for bachelor parties or just to relax in the spa,” Isabel Hernández, Deputy Manager at the Parador Alcalá de Henares, tells Scandinavian Traveler.

State-owned luxury

Parador Alcalá de Henares is a typical parador – a hotel located in a historic building, such as a fort, monastery or castle. In its past life, Alcalá de Henares has been a monastery and served as a prison. All paradors are affiliated to a chain, Paradores de Turismo de España, which opened its first hotel in 1926. Today there are paradors all over Spain, from the Canary Islands to Galicia.

Paradors came into being back in 1926, when the Marquis of Vega-Inclán ordered the construction of a place to stay in the Sierra de Gredos mountains. This was the start of the Junta de Paradores y Hosterías del Reino chain. The idea was to build infrastructure that would not otherwise have been achieved through the private sector. In places with a rich history and cultural heritage, as Miguel Nombela, tourist attaché at Spain’s tourist office in Norway, explains.

“Paradors are part of an autonomous company where the only shareholder is the Spanish state,” Nombela says.

A unique model of state-operated hotels.

“The funds to run them come from Turespaña (the national tourist office).”

In 2017, a total of €54 million was invested in paradors. In 2016, the net return on operations was €8 million.

“The paradors present a modern image of Spain and at the same time help to maintain our cultural heritage.”

That’s precisely what the Alacalá de Henares does, with its sophisticated, well-considered architecture and sculpted garden.

“A model of the parador has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York,” Hernández says.

Hotels with age discounts

There are 97 paradors in total across Spain. Prices vary with the season.

“This summer has seen discounts of 15 percent compared with regular rates and up until 30 September, you can get three nights for the price of two and five nights for the price of four,” Nombela says.

Discounts are also offered for guests aged over 55 and for those under 30 years of age. Where in the world other than Spain will you find state-owned luxury hotels that offer social discounts? Nowhere, as far as we know.

Six great paradors in Spain:

The lobby at Parador de La Seu d’Urgell, a few dozen kilometers from Barcelona. Photo: Parador.es

Parador de La Seu d’Urgell, not far from Barcelona

This accommodation is located in an old Renaissance monastery in Lleida in north-west Catalonia. The monks who once lived here would probably not recognize the place. It has been redeveloped with care and is not much different from other luxury hotels in terms of facilities. There’s a pool, bars and restaurants that fit seamlessly into the old buildings. The city of Lleida is home to around 120,000 people and is a good base for hiking or skiing in the Pyrenees.

Parador de La Seu d’Urgell

Carrer de Sant Domènec, 6, 25700 La Seu d'Urgell, Lleida,

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From 85 euro/ night

Parador de Vic-Sau enjoys a beautiful location with an amazing view

Parador de Vic-Sau, 80 km from Barcelona

This parador is situated just 80km from Barcelona. You’ll stay in a traditional country house with a beautiful garden and a swimming pool offering views of the nearby mountains. If you fancy a little local shopping, you can stroll around the small town of Vic. For amazing food, though, it’s just got to be the parador. Here you can enjoy dishes in the traditional Catalan mar y montaña style, with ingredients from the sea and the mountains.

Parador de Vic-Sau

Paraje el Bac de Sau. Ctra. de Tavèrnoles, bv 5213, km 10, 08500 Vic

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From 95 euro/ night

Great food is an important part of the parador experience. At Parador de Gibralfaro in Málaga dinner comes with a splendid view. Photo: Parador.es

Parador de Gibralfaro, Málaga

The old Gibralfaro castle in Málaga is today home to a stylish hotel offering views across the city of Málaga and the bay. Hungry? We recommend eating at the parador, where the chefs serve up Andalusian specialties such as crispy boquerones and other delicacies from the sea.

Parador de Gibralfaro, Málaga

Castillo de Gibralfaro, 29016 Málaga, Spania

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From 130 euro/night

Parador Úbeda in Andalusia, southern Spain, is in one of the country’s World Heritage Sites

Parador de Úbeda

The town of Úbeda is one of many in Spain to have been awarded a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. The town’s parador is a Renaissance building nestling right in the middle of the World Heritage Site. The rooms retain an old-style charm, with romantic four-poster beds and balconies with views of the old Plaza Vázquez de Molina. Inside the building is a beautiful, quiet patio and there’s also a lovely garden with spring water. They serve Andalusian specialties with an elegant twist.

Parador de Úbeda

Plaza Vázquez de Molina, s/n, 23400 Úbeda, Jaén

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From115 euro/ night

Parador Alcalá de Henares outside Madrid is a tasteful and elegant hotel in a former monastery

Parador Alcalá de Henares, Madrid

A beautiful parador located in an old building that has been used as both a prison and a monastery. It’s home to a fantastic restaurant serving high-quality local food and also has a spa, a garden and a patio. Around 200,000 people live in the city, which has been here since the Copper Age. It’s also the birthplace of the author Cervantes.

Parador Alcalá de Henares, Madrid

Colegios 8, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid

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From 110 euro/ night

Text: Inga Ragnhild Holst

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