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If you are looking for romantic luxury hotels for your holidays, I have a recommendation for you – the Paradores in Spain.

My best travel experience in Spain was not Barcelona, which of course is always fascinating to visit when you are surrounded by Gaudi’s architecture and Picasso/Dali’s paintings.

But my most romantic luxurious experience in Spain was visiting the Paradores.  The original meaning of Parador is Inn. It’s now a brand name for the selection of state-owned luxury hotels, often in a building of historic or artistic importance. Some of the most romantic memories my husband and I have were in the Paradores.

Below is the official description of the origin of Paradores from the Paradores organization:

At the initiative of the Marquee Vega Inclan, S.M. in 1928 King Alfonso XIII opened the first establishment in the Paradores de Turismo Network in the Gredos Sierra. Since then, Paradores has maintained the concept under which it was created: to act as guardian of our national and artistic heritage while promoting quality tourism and dynamising those regions with fewer economic resources. Now in the 21st Century, Paradores de Turismo maintains the principles on which it was founded, adopting them to the needs of today’s guest. To do this, it incorporates and applies the newest technologies, is sensitive to the care of and respect for the environment and projects the finest image of Spanish tourism, gastronomy, history and culture beyond our borders.

Paradores offers its guests diverse and modern cultural activities in accord with today’s demands, which include: history, art and customs, sports and leisure, contact with nature, the sun and the beach, and of course, the search for peaceful havens to calm the tensions of daily life.

They are not the cliché romantic luxury Spa hotels that you see in most of the holiday advertising. They have a lot more than just massage and jacuzzi to offer.

In essence, every Parador is a history book. Be it an Arabic Fortress, a residence for the bishops, a palace, a medieval castle, a convent or a hunting house, every Parador is unique. They are no chain hotels. If you like history, you would love it. If you are not keen about history, you would love it too. Inside every Parador, you feel like you have entered into a classic movie, surrounded by period set and costumes with a big cast. Walking pass the corridor flanked by the life size soldier armour sets, passing through an underground alley before you reach the swimming pool, eating under a middle-age chandelier, very quickly, you will wonder if you are actually the lead actress or actor?

I am going to introduce some of those Paradores that I have stayed in with my husband here and write a separate story for each of them later.

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The first one, which was also the very first Parador that we stayed in, is the Parador de Siguenza , about 3 hours’ drive from Barcelona.

Official description from the guidebook:

12th Century Medieval Castle
Installed in a Moorish citadel constructed on a Roman settlement, this imposing castle was begun in 1123, and was the residence of bishops and cardinals until the end of the last century: Intimate, cosy bedrooms alongside stately rooms.

A splendid dining room where “morteruelo del Senorio Molines” (game dish) can be tasted, along with cod Trijueque style with mushrooms and cheese, roast kid “a la Barrena” and “Flores de Cabanillas” (sweet).

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Map picture

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The second one is a 13th Century Arab Fortress Parador de Jaen .

Official description from the guidebook:

Exceptional: 13th C. Arabic Fortress

Santa Catalina Castle and Hill defend the extend of the horizon of Jaen. The impressive exterior remains in the drawing room, with its arches 20m high and its Arabic roots in the dining room. The softness of the shades contrasts with the vertigo of views, the blue of the swimming pool and the gastronomy: “ajo blanco” (cold garlic soup), partridge salad, “pipirrana” (vegatable salad) and morcilla en caldera” (blood sausage).

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And the third one is a hunting house Parador de Cazorla

Official description from the guidebook:

In the middle of nature
In the heart of the Cazorla Nature Reserve, at the spot known as Sacejo, the Parador has become an obligatory haven for nature lovers. The luxuriant setting eases the enjoyment of its gentle vistas, completed with a peaceful swimming pool. The interior, decorated inn soft shades, offset by leather furniture and sunny windows, is the prelude to a visit to its restaurant, where “gachamiga” (flour, breadcrumbs and bacon dish), “pisto” (fried vegetables) and “pipirrana” (mixed salad) can be sampled.

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