Unless you were born into royalty, plan on marrying a prince or princess, or simply have an obscene supply of cash, you probably think your chances of living in a castle are pretty slim. You’re probably right, but that doesn’t mean your dream can’t be realized on a smaller scale. Spain has more than 3,000 castles, plenty of which you can spend the night in. They’re known as paradors, a name that refers to high-end hotels usually located in monasteries, palaces, or castles. From ancient urban fortresses to rustic countryside citadels, these five stunning Spanish castle hotels offer the gift of living like the aristocracy.
1. Parador de Carmona, Seville
Travelers who want to gaze out from turrets and see verdant rolling hills should opt for a stay at Parador de Carmona. Housed in a 14th-century Moorish fortress, the property presents guests with an authentic castle getaway. On top of spectacular countryside views, visitors will be met with a medieval atmosphere, which is apparent everywhere, from the grandly arched dining room to details like heavy wooden doors. The 63 traditionally styled rooms also come with balconies overlooking the far-reaching scenery. There’s also a restaurant and large outdoor pool on the premises. However, it is worth noting that given the hotel’s rural location, you’ll have to drive to most attractions.
2. Parador de Jaen
Situated atop the Santa Catalina hill and overlooking rustic villages and rocky terrain, Parador de Jaen is a beautiful 18th-century castle with original wooden beams and ramparts plus authentic tiles that will charm any history buff. Even better, the hotel boasts views over the Guadalquivir River and the Sierra Morena hills. Many rooms also feature balconies from which to take in these dramatic vistas. If country walks and relaxing dips in an outdoor pool sound like your idea of a vacation, then this serene, relatively isolated escape will not disappoint.
3. Parador de Granada
Parador de Granada may not technically be a castle, but it was originally built in the 15th century as a Nasrid palace for a Moorish prince, making it deserving of a spot on this list. The property is now an upscale hotel offering the unique experience of staying inside La Alhambra, a fortress complex and UNESCO World Heritage site. While some of the common spaces feature antiques and traces of the building’s grand past, its 40 rooms are contemporary, with understated Spanish decor and up-to-date amenities, such as flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Other highlights include a traditional restaurant -- known for having hosted First Lady Michelle Obama -- and gorgeous grounds with fountains, plants, and striking ruins.
4. Castillo Hotel Son Vida, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Majorca
Housed in a 13th-century castle, overlooking the Bay of Palma, the 164-room Castillo Hotel Son Vida has a star-studded history that has helped shape Majorca's glamorous reputation. A short drive from Palma, the hotel has hosted the likes of Grace Kelly and Aristotle Onassis in its storied past. Today, its highlights include two elegant restaurants and an extensive wine cellar, a large pool overlooking rolling countryside, impeccable gardens, gorgeous gardens, and a golf course. Rooms are opulent, with velvet, ornate drapes, and crystal chandeliers.
5. Parador "Hostal San Marcos" de Leon
Originally meant to house a military order under King Ferdinand the Catholic and later serving as a hospital for pilgrims, this hotel has roots in the 16th century. The Spanish Renaissance exterior contributes to the unforgettable appearance, but it is just as beautiful on the inside. Upon entering, guests will find oil paintings, heavy wooden doors, and carved stone in the lobby. The rooms are spacious with handsome features like hanging tapestries, four-poster beds, and contemporary easy chairs. A cloister, museum, and a shrubbery maze can also be found throughout the grounds.
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