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Luxury hotels set in medieval castles, mansions converted into youth hostels, designer B&Bs in the heart of buzzing cities – there is a huge range of places to stay in Spain. The country has some 10,000 establish ments and over one and a half million beds to choose from; it’s no wonder that tourism sustain’s Spain’s economy. Suites in once-royal palaces are at the top of the scale and then there are luxury beach hotels on the Costa del Sol and in the Balearic and the Canary Islands. Visitors can stay on remote farms, or in old, self-catered villas. For budget travel there are pensions, familyrun casas rurales, guesthouses and camp sites, as well as refuges with stunning views for mountaineers. Some of the best hotels in all these categories and in every style and price range are listed on pages 562–75.

Hotel Grading and Facilities

Spain’s hotels are classified into categories and awarded stars by the regional tourist authorities. Hotels (indicated by an H on a plaque near the door) have one to five stars. Hostales (Hs) and pensiones (P) are cheaper than hotels, offer fewer comforts, and have one to three stars. A pensión that is not good enough to be awarded a star is known as a casa de huéspedes (guesthouse).

Spain’s star-rating system reflects the range of facilities available rather than the quality of service. Most hotels have airconditioning, and many provide amenities like internet access or a restaurant offering local fare. Most hotel restaurants are open to non-residents. Hotel-residencias (HR) and hostal-residencias (HsR) do not have dining rooms, but some serve breakfast. Among Spain’s largest hotel chains are Meliá Hotels International, Grupo Riu and NH-Hotels. Tour operators often book rooms in Spain’s larger hotel groups


Paradors are government-run hotels, classified from three to five stars. Spain’s first parador opened in the Sierra de Gredos in 1928; there is now a wide network of over 90, on the mainland and the Canary Islands. Most, and certainly the most historic, are located in the centre and the north of the mainland. The best are in former royal hunting lodges, castles, monasteries and other monuments; some modern paradors have been purpose-built, often in spec tacular scenery or in towns of historic interest. A parador is not nec essarily the best hotel in town, but it can be counted on to deliver a high level of com fort and service. Each is furnished in its own
individual style, and has a restaurant offering regional cuisine. They are generally well signposted. If you plan to tour in high season or to stay in the smaller paradors, be sure to reserve in advance. The paradors may be booked through the Central de Reservas or through London agent Keytel International.


Spanish law requires all hotels to display their prices behind the reception and in each room. As a rule, the higher a hotel’s star rating, the more you pay. Rates for a double room can be as little as €35–50 a night for a one-star hostal; a five-star hotel will cost more than €275 a night, but a room price higher than €350 a night is rare, especially outside Madrid or Barcelona. Prices usually vary according to room, region and season. A suite or a room with a view, a balcony or other special feature may cost more than average. Rural and suburban hotels tend to be less expensive than those in the city centre. All the prices on pages 562–75 are based on mid- or high-season rates. High season covers July and August, Easter and the Christmas period, but in some areas it runs from April to October. In the Canary Islands the winter is high season.

Many of Spain’s city hotels charge especially inflated rates for their rooms during major fiestas – such as the April Fair in Seville , Los Sanfermines in Pamplona , Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife  and Easter Week – and major trade fairs.

Most hotels quote prices per room and meal prices per person without including VAT (IVA), which is 10 per cent on the mainland and 5 per cent on the Canary Islands

and by credit card or banker’s draft from outside the country. If you have to cancel, do so at least a week before the booking date or you may lose all or some of the deposit. In most cases hotels will honour a booking only until 8pm unless business is poor. If you are delayed, call the hotel to assure them you are coming and to tell them when to expect you. When you check in to a hotel you will be asked for your passport or identity card to comply with Spanish police regulations. It will normally be returned to you promptly as soon as your details have been copied. You are expected to check out of your room by noon on the last day of your stay, or to pay for another night.


Most hotels accept major credit cards. In some large, busy hotels you may be asked for an author ization hold on your credit card until you check out. Make sure this is cancelled when you pay your bill. Personal and travellers’ cheques are not accepted in almost all Spanish hotels, even if backed by a cheque guarantee card or drawn on a Spanish bank. Many people pay cash, and in some cheap hotels this may be the only mode of payment accepted. Tipping hotel staff such as porters and cleaners is left to the discretion of the guests.

Casas Rurales

The owners of some casas rurales (country houses) accept a few visitors, usually in high season. They are most numerous in Asturias, Navarra, Aragón and Catalonia (where they are called cases de pagès). They are also becoming common in Galicia and Cantabria (where they are called casonas), and in Andalucía. Casas rurales range from manor houses to small, isolated farms. Some offer bed and breakfast; some an evening meal or full board; and others are self-catering. Do not expect hotel service or lots of facilities. You may, however, be given a friendly welcome and good home cooking, all at an affordable price. You can book casas rurales directly or through regional associations, such as RAAR in Andalucía, Ruralia in Asturias, Turismo Verde in Huesca, Aragón, Ruralverd in Catalonia and AGATUR (Asociación Gallega de Turismo Rural) in Galicia.


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