High atop a hilltop, Parador de Tortosa offers sweeping views of the town and the Ebro River Valley from its commanding position. Built within a 10th century fortified castle, the four-star Spanish parador feels like a refuge –filled with peace, quiet and tranquility.
Part of the reason for its blissful natural silence is no doubt due to the fact there is absolutely no traffic anywhere near. In fact, when the little van I was traveling in made its winding way up the steep road to the castle and entered the arched stone portal into the parador grounds, it barely fit between the walls. We all held our breaths and applauded after we’d made it through. (Another vehicle was not quite so lucky and took some time to maneuver.)
Within the historic grounds, guests can wander amid the remains of columns from Roman times, or peek through a fence into a small medieval Arab cemetery. A walk downhill to the city center is only about 10 minutes, but remember coming back you will be hiking up a steep hill.
An ancient stone fence partially encloses the beautiful outdoor swimming pool -which is a popular draw of the parador too—especially welcome during the summertime when the region’s hot Mediterrean climate kicks in: Tortosa is south of Barcelona, and just off the east coast of Spain.
The hotel itself is actually a modern construction but fits in so well with the surroundings you’d hardly guess. Inside, décor includes plenty of wood beamed ceilings and wrought iron light fixtures. It’s fun wandering through the labyrinth of hallways or having a glass of wine in one of the sitting areas or out on the terrace. Although when I was there, a “First Communion” party was going on—so I went back up to my room and had my glass of wine out on my lovely wood balcony– with the panoramic town and river views in the distance and the swimming pool directly below.
Each of the 72 guestrooms spread out over three floors are tiled and furnished similarly, with wood and leather headboards, dark wood desks, drapes over shuttered windows, comfy beds and wood balconies. Wi-fi is free and available in all rooms and areas.
I had a corner room on the second floor, with fantastic views. I loved the wood shutters on the windows and kept them open for cool night breezes–the only sound was church bells marking the hour; in the morning the amazing light over the town and the birdsong was incredible. Gazing out on the city and river below I felt as if I could have easily been in another century.
The parador (paradores are Spain’s government -run hotels) also serves breakfast and has a restaurant for dinner that features Catalan cuisine—but generally it doesn’t start serving until after 8p.m. (You’re in Spain, remember.)
The spacious dining room is very nice—with some of the castle’s original stained glass windows incorporated. As for the meal, I found dinner adequate but not spectacular. Rates for rooms only (no meals) start at approximately $134 and go upwards. But do know that paradores also offer discounts for Golden Days (+55) and Young Getaways (under 30s).
Review and photos (except where noted) by Donna Tabbert Long who was hosted by the Tourist Office of Spain (Chicago) while on a story assignment.