A friend of mine is on a mission to make me super jealous of his jaunts in the Extremadura region of Spain. In between learning how to roast paprika, make sheep milk cheese, prepare tapas, dine on several course meals and visit World Heritage sites, he’s slumbering in 16th century abodes once fit for a king.
In this rugged terrain of mountains, valleys and plains, several mansions and castles were built by conquistadors who made a fortune exploring the Americas before returning home to showcase their wealth. Several of their opulent homes have been turned into hotels. A stay in one of these establishments pairs history with one-of-a-kind aesthetics and modern, 4 star comfort.
Here is a sampling of palace and former convent hotels from the Paradores Hotel group that my friend has gushed about for the last several days.
Parador de Cáceres (Cáceres) is a 14th century beauty that blends historic features with modern sensibilities. The palace has been converted to a mix of double and twin bed rooms, common areas, lounges and a restaurant where the palace’s original brick and stone archways are a prominent architectural feature. Each guest room has a TV, a mini bar and a telephone.Located in the old section of Cáceres, the Parador de Cáceres is perfect for immersing oneself in the ambiance of this Renaissance era town that is considered one of the best preserved towns in Europe. Check prices at Priceline or Travelocity.
Parador de Guadalupe (Guadalupe) includes the once home of Marquis de la Romana and the 15th century San Juan Bautista Hospital. The hotel’s Mudejar-style courtyard with its fountains, native plants and lemon and orange trees is a lovely place to enjoy the palace’s grandeur. The Parador de Guadalupe, with its common areas, guest rooms and restaurant, also has a seasonal swimming pool. Compare rates at Priceline or Travelocity for this Parador property as well.
Like the Parador de Cáceres, the Parador de Guadalupe is in an historic town center. The Royal Monastery, a World Heritage site, is next door.
Parador de Plasencia (Plasencia), founded in the mid-15th century was not a palace but a convent. This Gothic style building is central to this walled market city on the bank of the Jerte River. My friend was enamored with his stay here and pronounced the Parador de Plasencia “incredibly enchanting.” Room options range from twin beds to doubles. Again, check Priceline and Travelocity for booking options.
For the most enchanting stay, book a room in one of the hotel’s “unique rooms.” La Florida, with its separate living room is the largest suite of the two, but the fireplace of De los Zúñiga sounds splendid. A stay in one of the unique rooms is a package for two that includes breakfast, a dinner from the tasting menu and “extra surprises.
Along with the seasonal swimming pool, the Parador de Plasencia has a gym. The hotel also has a restaurant and common areas for hanging out when one is not meandering among the historical treasures of this town.
You can book a stay in a Paradores Hotel property from the company’s website which my friend recommends. There are several magnificent options in various parts of Spain. Browsing the choices is like visiting a hotel candy store of visual treats.
A good place to start is the page where there is a map of Spain that shows the hotels’ locations and provides an alphabetical listing.
Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association. Photos courtesty of Paradores Hotels.