Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sleep like a king

Castles, palaces, citadels, and luxury hotels await travelers from around the world.

[The fortress in Alarcón, in western Castilla-La Mancha, was built in the 8th century and has rooms for up to 28 guests, including a room at the top of the tower, along with a fine restaurant, bar, and garden.]


Spain is full of historic buildings and gorgeous scenery. In 1928, King Alfonso XIII decided to take advantage of this by creating an agency to set up hotels in these locations to promote tourism.

It turned out to be a good idea. Paradores Nacionales de Turismo now offers close to 100 hotels, each unique and memorable, with outstanding restaurants. Many offer the chance to relive history.

A good way to start planning your adventure is by searching the Paradores website, which comes in Spanish, English, French, German, and Catalan. Chose your style: castle, citadel, convent, monastery, historic building, modern building, palace, or regional location in splendid settings. The site is media-heavy, with photos, videos, maps, interactive features, helpful links, histories, and everything else they can think of to tempt you to make a reservation.

Some paradores have "unique rooms" which may have special historical interest, extraordinary amenities, and a few are even allegedly haunted. (Friendly ghosts, of course.) Often paradores have play areas for children. Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to make reservations from overseas.

The room rates aren't always cheap, of course, but the special promotions can be affordable. In any case, with all the information online, it's easy to imagine a visit, and dreaming is free.

Portugal has a similar system of "pousadas." Visit I recommend the castle at Óbidos, where I have stayed.


  1. The U.K. has a similar system, albeit privately administered, called the Landmark Trust. It's wonderful!

  2. Thanks, Tim! It's another excellent way to relive history.