A Beautiful and Worthy Splurge at Spain’s Parador de Granada


It’s difficult not to wax poetic about Spain’s Parador de Granada–located literally on the doorstep of both Spain’s stunning Alhambra and the Palacio del Generalife. Suffice it to say: If you are ever going to splurge on a hotel for a special night(s), this might be one place that’s worth it.

Often cited as the most expensive and most popular Parador (you need to book months in advance) in the Spanish government-run lodging program, Parador de Granada’s blissful and enviable setting is obviously the reason—especially nice after the mobs of tourists leave the Alhambra for the evening (it closes at 8 p.m.). Guests enter through a brick archway (and gate) onto the Parador grounds where dozens of roses in every color amidst aromatic herbs (herbs are used in the kitchen; roses decorate dining room tables) line the entrance into the Parador. (I also had a beauteous white rose in my room.)

Throughout the hotel, a lovely Andalusian ambiance pervades—with tasteful décor that includes some original features like stone archways, beamed ceilings, and antique furnishings. It’s fun to simply wander around (at reception, a map in English and other languages gives a detailed “walk” through the Granada Parador Museum pointing out its history), and a sunset drink on the terrace overlooking the Summer Palace is a romantic and relaxing must. 

The 40 guestrooms (five are junior suites) are spread throughout the older section as well as located in a more modern wing. Check-in was easy with English-speaking staff and helpful bellmen who delivered luggage and stayed to explain the hows and wheres of everything (coffeemaker, temp control, and t.v).

I had a room on the 3rd floor in the older section (#302) which looked out across to the Summer Palace, Generalife and below to a knot and rose gardens. It was one of the most unforgettable hotel room views that I can recall ever.

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Even my walk-in shower had a small shuttered window that looked out on the picturesque pool below in the newer section of the Parador.

My room also had a small sitting area and twin beds that made into a king like most European rooms. The bed was comfortable, linens lovely, and lots of bedside plug-ins are always a plus. (Wi-fi is available and free). Besides plenty of towels, hairdryer, shower amenities and a beautiful robe to use, the Parador adds extra touches like a special souvenir bookmark /poem by Federico Garcia Lorca and bedside dishes of wrapped candy.

The hotel itself within the Alhambra complex was once a Franciscan monastery built on the site of a mosque and palace founded in the 14th century. Wandering around, I saw hints of that ancient past in the irrigation channel that runs through it, along with some of its unusual “honeycomb” architectural details. At one time, Catholic Monarchs–Spain’s famous King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabel– chose to be buried here–and actually were—at least until 1521 when they were moved to the Royal Chapel in the Cathedral of Granada. You can still see the slab on the ground near the altar marking the place where they were buried along with a bit of the mosque that was here even before the church.

Next to this altar area, I loved the former cloister which has been made into a zen-like lounge, complete with a bubbling fountain, surrounded by columns wrapped in scented jasmine that infuses the entire space with an aroma that is nothing short of heavenly. I felt like I was at a spa; it’s a lovely place to hang out, think about the glory that once was– and understand the ancient meditative appeal of the sound of water and the scents of flowers. I found a glass of wine didn’t hurt either.


Breakfast is not included unless it’s noted on your rate, but it’s an extensive, abundant, and artful display of opulence with plenty of fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, heaps of pastries, even hot churros, warm potato omelette, and more. Don’t skip the fantastic herbal marinated salmon (made with the garden’s herbs).


Lunch or dinner in the restaurant is another pleasure. Based on its 15th century Nasrid roots, the lunch menu I enjoyed featured a delicious harisa soup, spicy crusted sea bass and vegetable stew—and a wonderful light dessert of myrtle sorbet–prepared from the herb in the Parador’s gardens.

Official room rates vary widely, depending on the season. A recent check for a premium June night showed $450 for a standard twin. But as always, Paradores also offer discounts for Golden Days (+55) and Young Getaways (under 30s).

Make reservations directly through the website. You can also reserve a room at agoda.com or Priceline.

Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long whose stay was provided for by the Tourist Office of Spain (Chicago). Her flight to Granada was courtesy of Iberia.

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