In the historic center of Granada, Spain, on the city’s bustling Gran Via, the five-star AC Palacio de Santa Paula mixes tranquility (it’s partially housed in a 16th century convent)with elegant innovative design and style.
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection (AC), the hotel has managed to maintain parts of its building’s history as well. Guests who look up can see the (preserved) remains of an ancient fresco on a wall near the terrace (once the central cloister),
while guests looking down on the “floor” of the sunlit cloister will find engraved stones that seem to be grave markers. A stroll around the property also takes visitors to another little private courtyard where more rooms are situated. A peek into the hotel’s restaurant, El Claustro, and you can see what was once the Santa Paula convent refectory.
An excellent English speaking and friendly staff made check-in easy and delightful. The hotel has 75 rooms in various layouts–befitting an old property. Mine was considered a Suite King–and my particular room was configured in a way that had to work around some of the odd angles of the building’s ancient structural heritage. There was a separate room for the King-sized bed (along with a wall mounted television) and artwork that consisted of a beautifully framed shadowboxe which showcased original pieces of the property– discovered when the convent was being transformed into the hotel.
The room wrapped around to a wedge-shaped sitting area with another smaller flat screen television sitting atop a long credenza that also held cups, tea supplies and an electric kettle–and a Keurig coffeemaker with espresso cups.
Walls in both rooms were painted in striking hues; bright orange on one side, the other a golden yellow. The brilliant orange was the accent color (including a matching spread on the bed) and the color complemented the polished dark wood floors perfectly. It felt very Spanish.
The bathroom was spectacular, tiled in a way almost reminiscent of the colorful tilework I saw later while wandering in the Albaicin district nearby. Double sinks, luxury bath amenities, plus robes, slippers, and a hairdryer were all part of the package. Besides 24-hour room service, there is also free wi-fi –and air conditioning in all the rooms (not to be taken lightly in this city’s sweltering summer heat and where many of its hotels don’t offer it).
If you haven’t walked enough while touring the nearby Alhambra (a 10-minute taxi ride away), there is a nicely outfitted smaller exercise room offering treadmills.
Breakfast is not included in the rate, although I thought the breakfast buffet –even at $22 –was a pretty amazing spread. Late afternoon I discovered the best place to be was on the terrace near the cloister– away from the hustle and noise of traffic on Gran Via. There, sipping on a cold beer, nibbling some tapas, it was easy to reflect what a (real) blessed and tranquil respite this place truly is. Room rates start at approximately $180 a night but vary according to season. For more information, or to make reservations, check the website. You can also research rates and book through one of the many booking sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com or Travelocity.
Review and photos by Donna Tabbert Long who was a media guest of the hotel.