Spain has something unique: state-owned hotels located in (mostly) historic buildings. All over Spain you can stay in old castles, monasteries, palaces and convents. All the locations are spectacular and have been chosen for their historical and/or geographical characteristics. Not only that, Paradors (as they are called) are known for their restaurants which serve the cuisine that each region is known for. Staying in a Parador is a great way to get to know Spain.
Living in Spain, we’ve set ourselves a goal to work our way through the country’s Paradors. For this post I researched all the Paradors (there are 90). You’ll find them in every corner of Spain: in cities, the countryside, and along the coasts.
Prices: some start as low as 70 Euros/night. The average is about 100 Euros/night. A couple however are quite expensive: the Parador de Santiago de Compostela starts at around 226 Euros a night while the Parador in Granada (the most popular of Spain’s Paradors) starts at 320 Euros.
This post highlights 16 of the Best Parador Hotels to discover in Spain.
I’m going to start at the top left of the map (in Santiago de Compostela) and work my way counter-clock wise.
Below: Click to enlarge
16 Parador Hotels to discover in Spain
1. Parador de Santiago de Compostela
Booking.com rating: 9.2 (Fantastic), Starting price 226 Euros
It is considered the oldest continuously operating hotel in the world (since 1499) and has also been called the “most beautiful hotel in Europe”. The Parador de Santiago, known as the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, was built by Ferdinand and Isabel (the Catholic Monarchs) as a hostel and a hospital where pilgrims could recover and rejuvenate after hiking the pilgrimage routes to the city.
Located in the center of Santiago de Compostela, it is near all the sights including the Cathedral (one of Spain’s most beautiful cathedrals). Santiago is one of Spain’s most historic cities.
The parador has a luxurious dining room that offers fish and meat prepared in the Galician style, along with regional specialties like apple filloas (a type of crêpe) and crème brûlée.
If you choose to stay here make sure to book early.
2. Parador de Corias
Booking.com rating: 9.2 (Fantastic), Starting price 95 Euros
Condé Nast Traveller chose this parador as the best non-urban hotel in Spain. The Parador de Corias is located near the Asturian town of Cangas del Narcea in a spectacular monastery that has been declared a National Historical-Artistic Monument.
The Parador features a church with large baroque altarpiece and a museum with archaeological remains. Parador de Corias also has modern spa facilities. Menu highlights at the restaurant include Asturian white bean stew with pork and sausage and grilled Asturian beef sirloin.
Outside, next to the Parador is a Roman bridge. All around are mountain landscapes and scenic hikes. Parador de Corias is a great place to relax away from it all.
3. Parador de Leon
Booking.com rating: 9.6 (Exceptional), Starting price 180 Euros
This parador has the highest booking.com rating of any parador in Spain. We spent 4 months in lockdown in Leon when Covid hit in early 2020 – and never had a chance to visit the Parador (which was closed at the time).
It is located inside the convent of San Marcos, a gorgeous building that rivals Leon Cathedral as the highlight of this historic city. Built in 1541, the convent includes a church and a museum. The detailing on everything – from the façade to the balconies to the columns and statues – is spectacular.
More on Leon: Highlights of a self-guided walking tour of León
We’ll be back one day in Leon and plan to stay in this parador.
4. Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 100 Euros
This castle/palace was once the home of Emperor Charles V. It has fortified towers, large grounds and an excellent swimming pool. The Parador is located in the pretty town of Jarandilla which is known for its medieval bridges and religious buildings and it is surrounded by nature.
The restaurant serves typical dishes from the Extremadura region: fried suckling pig, braised goat, patata revolconas (paprika mashed potatoes with bacon) are a few examples.
5. Parador de Cáceres
Booking.com rating: 8.9 (Fabulous), Starting price 105 Euros
In the heart of the historical town of Cáceres, the Parador de Cáceres is located in a Renaissance palace that has been declared a World Heritage Site. The parador is renovated and prides itself on combining tradition, modernity and comfort.
Cáceres is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its Roman, Moorish and Gothic architecture. Thirty towers from the Moorish period still stand today (the Torre del Bujaco being the most famous) and you’ll find lots of churches and convents. The city is a popular filming location due to its unspoilt character.
6. Parador de Trujillo
Booking.com rating: 8.9 (Fabulous), Starting price 85 Euros
Another parador in Extramadura, the Parador de Trujillo occupies the former convent of Santa Clara. Inside you’ll see doors and windows framed in granite, stone vaults and staircases. There are two cloisters, one with Renaissance arches and columns. The parador has atmospheric rooms, there’s a swimming pool, and the restaurant serves local specialties such as lamb, sirloin, and roasted cod.
Trujillo itself is a historic city, highlighted by beautiful Plaza Mayor (Main Square). Sights include San Martín de Tours Church, the Palacio de la Conquista (Palace of the Conquest), the Casa de las Cadenas (House of the Chains), and Trujillo Castle.
7. Parador de Carmona
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 130 Euros
The Parador de Carmona is built over the ruins of a stunning fortress standing high above the town of Carmona. The architecture is typically Andalusian with azulejos (tiles) and Mudejar (Islamic influenced) elements. There are fabulous views of the countryside, a large swimming pool, and a gorgeous interior courtyard. The dining room is located in the former refectory and is one of the most spectacular in the Paradores chain.
Carmona is one of the oldest towns in Europe and has many historical buildings. Highlights include the Moorish fortress known as the Alcazar de la Puerta de Seville, the Roman necropolis, and the Museum of the City of Carmona. Carmona is 30 km from Seville so it’s an easy trip from the Andalusian capital.
8. Parador de Malaga Gibralfaro
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 150 Euros
The Parador de Málaga Gibralfaro stands atop Mount Gibralfaro opposite the Castillo de Gibralfaro. We visited the Castillo on our first trip to Malaga and the location is reason enough to stay at this parador (the Castillo de Gibralfaro was by far our highlight in Malaga).
The views from the parador are fantastic. The setting, on a foresty hill in the middle of Malaga, is spectacular and you can hike down and find yourself in the heart of the city.
Unlike most of the paradors listed in this post, this one is modern having been built in 1948. But it’s the natural and historic setting (being right next to the Castillo) that makes this parador special.
9. Parador de Granada
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 320 Euros
There is a reason this parador is so expensive – it is located on the grounds of the Alhambra, arguably the most spectacular site in all of Spain. Imagine, you can wander the grounds of the Alhambra long after the doors of the palace have closed and the tourists have left. This feature has also made the Parador de Granada the most popular parador in Spain (make sure to book months in advance!).
The parador is part of a Moorish palace and mosque (built between 1332 and 1354) which was later converted into a Franciscan convent. The building is in classic Mudejar style, merging Arabic and Christian elements. There are 40 rooms which are all different. The restaurant serves local specialties such as Andalusian gazpacho, “Tortilla de Sacromonte” (a local omelette), and “Pollo a la alpujarrena” which is a chicken dish with lots of garlic.
10. Parador de Jaen
Booking.com rating: 9.0 (Fantastic), Starting price 120 Euros
One of the most incredible locations for a parador, the Parador de Jaén is situated next to Castillo de Santa Catalina on a hill overlooking the city of Jaén. Having been to Jaén previously, staying at the Parador tops our list when we come back.
Besides incredible views of the city and countryside, the hotel is modern with all the comforts (including a swimming pool) and a restaurant serving regional specialties such as Pipirrana Jiennense (a typical Andalucian salad), Iberian ham, and Jabali stew with Moorish eggplant.
11. Parador de Alarcon
Booking.com rating: 9.0 (Fantastic), Starting price 168 Euros
Another incredible castle stay. The Parador of Alarcon is set in an 8th Century medieval castle located on a promontory overlooking the fertile plain of the river Jucar. Built by the Moors in the 8th century, it was captured by King Alfonso VIII in the 12th century and was later the home of the famous writer Don Juan Manuel.
The castle has a huge tower “Torre del Homenaje”, triple defensive walls, and a location on the river Jucar that created a natural moat on three sides. Inside, the medieval atmosphere of the castle has been maintained and you’ll see art by some of Spain’s famous painters.
Restaurant: the Parador de Alarcon is on the boundary of the La Mancha and Levante regions and the local dishes are mostly meat based: “Morteruelos” (hot meat pate),”Zarajos” (cured lamb and tripe), “Cordero en caldereta” (lamb stew) are a few examples.
12. Parador of Alcalá de Henares
Booking.com rating: 9.2 (Fantastic), Starting price 140 Euros
Note: Parador of Alcalá de Henares is located 20km from Madrid’s Barajas airport and is a good place to start your discovery of Spain’s paradors.
Combining old and new, the Parador de Alcalá is situated in a 17th-century monastery school. Being close to the airport, the services are high-quality: there’s a spa, a business center, and conference rooms.
Alcalá de Henares itself is a small city with cobbled streets, the birthplace of Cervantes (widely regarded as the best Spanish writer, he wrote Don Quixote). Calle Mayor, the cathedral, the university and the Archbishop’s Palace are all worth a visit.
13. Parador de Tortosa
Booking.com rating: 8.4 (Fabulous), Starting price 87 Euros
Another great castle stay. Parador de Tortosa is situated in Suda Castle which overlooks the town of Tortosa. It was originally constructed by the Moors in the 10th century and was built on top of an ancient Roman acropolis. It later became a prison (after the Christian conquest in 1148) and even later a palace.
The castle has many Gothic features, a cozy dining room, a swimming pool, and great views. Just below the castle is the beautiful Santa Maria Cathedral. You can explore Tortosa by walking around the walls and fortifications, starting at the parador and leading to many of the town’s highlights.
Typical regional dishes in the parador’s restaurant: “Anguila en suc” (eels in juice), “Suquet de peix” (fish in sauce), “Embutidos de cabra hispánica salvaje” (Wild Hispanic goat sausages).
14. Parador de Cardona
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 110 Euros
Looking over the town of Cardona, the Parador is located in the Castle of Cordona – the most important medieval fortress in Catalonia and one of the most important in Spain. Initially built in 886 AD, it has been the site of many sieges and battles. Within the castle you can visit the Minyona Tower and a church, both dating from the 11th century.
Cardona itself is a medieval town worth exploring. It is also an excellent location for nature sports with many hiking and bicycle trails all around.
15. Parador de Lerma
Booking.com rating: 8.6 (Fabulous), Starting price 104 Euros
This Parador is located inside a former ducal palace built during Habsburg rule in Spain (the building was constructed between 1601 and 1617). It is an elegant building with a large central courtyard and columned arcades.
Across from the parador is the Plaza Mayor (Main Square). Other highlights around Lerma include the medieval quarter, Arch, Cárcel Bridge, San Blas Convent, Santo Domingo Monastery, Pasadizo del Duque (Duke’s Passage) and former collegiate church of San Pedro.
The Parador’s restaurant prepares regional specialties such as suckling lamb, quail and partridge.
16. Parador de Fuente Dé
Booking.com rating: 8.7 (Fabulous), Starting price 75 Euros
A very different kind of Parador, the Parador de Fuente Dé is located among the incredible mountain scenery of the Picos de Europa National Park. Just next to the Parador is the small town’s famous cableway which takes you up to the Áliva viewpoint. The area is a hiker’s paradise including a route up Horcados Rojos, an amazing vertical wall measuring almost 300 meters.
The Parador itself is modern but is warm and cozy. The Restaurant is known for its traditional Cantabrian dishes such as cocido lebaniego (chickpea stew), Shoulder of lamb, and Iberian pork tenderloin.
These are 16 Paradors around Spain that have made it at the top of our list. There are many other Paradors around the country and each is special in its own way. To see more accommodation options in Spain, look up hotels on cozycozy.com.