In Spain there are plenty of basic and luxury hotels that run ranges similar to what you would find in the US. Somtimes you can find under $100 for decent rooms. $200 for fancy modern places. There are a few other excellent lodging options in Spain – aparthotels and hostals (not to be confused with hostels). And Spain offers a system of Paradores, historic buildings that have been converted to luxury hotels.
Spain offers a typical range of hotels including some American chains and some very sheik designer hotels. These can be comfortable and efficient, but be sure to check our notes on booking them below and see some of the alternatives we list.
One great, affordable, hotel chain that is friendly for internet travel planning is the delightfully named High Tech Petit Palace hotel chain. They are basically the Ikea of hotels. They are convenient, family friendly, affordable and modern. But, depending on what you get, in reality they may turn out to be a little flimsy and disappointing. We found the quality to be spotty and some amenities, like the super ultra all over body massage shower, did not function that well. Still, it was convenient, affordable and modern.
A great affordable option for the slightly adventurous traveler is a Hostal. Hostales are not to be confused with youth hostels, you know, the kind with bunk beds for backpackers (though you can find that too). In Spain a Hostal is a hotel alternative where you can get a room in a flat, often with the bathroom down the hall. The owners frequently live there. You can find them on the internet and, when in Spain you'll see them everywhere by the big H signs posted outside. They can offer a really nice cultural experience, the setting can sometimes be a beautiful historic building with quality furnishings and the owners can also be very friendly… or sometimes not. So be sure to check around. In one of my favorite hostal experiences we stayed in a beautiful ornate building overlooking a plaza in Barcelona. On the other hand we spent a long (and cheap) stay in Madrid in a very dark room with a sloping mattress and cranky dueño. Somtimes with hostales, you may have to ask the owners to turn on the hot water heater each time you shower. And sometimes they have restrictions on how late you can come home at night or they may provide a key to get in after a certain hour. In the past we would always pick these on the fly, visiting several before settling on a good one, but now you can scout many on the internet. Best of all hosteles can be much less expensive than hotels. You should be able to find a nice place to stay well under 50 euros/night. And weekly rates are often available.
Apartments and Aparthotels
You can increasingly find apartments for tourism on the internet. Options range from luxurious to pretty basic and most run at least as expensive as hotels. By searching you can find some deals and below we list some good booking sites. We very much enjoyed having an apartment while traveling with our young kids and we were able to find one that was a little less expensive than a hotel. While it is easy to find affordable delicious food in Spain and I'd be happy to eat out every meal, it was also fun to get local specialties at the market and to cook them in a kitchen of our own. Having laundry facilities was priceless and I loved having crispy line dried clothes, though many Americans may have trouble getting used to it.
With young daughters we knew we had to spend some time in a castle in Europe. (You can read more about the castle parador in Alarcon here.) Spain has a government run Parador program in which landmarks are converted into hotels. They offer many discounts packages and have special rates for seniors and youth. They tend to be much more expensive and luxurious than I would usually travel, but I would absolutely recommend at least one stay during your visit. Each is different, but generally they offer fine cuisine that is inspired by the local traditions. And the facilites are modern and stylish. The castle in which we stayed had been updated with modern decor that recalled medeival styles, with a canope over the bed, but with lush modern fabrics, contempory bath fixtures and dramatic lighting that brought out the texture of the brick and stone walls.
You can see a lot on the official Parador website. The site lists various US agents where you can book. I found the reps somewhat helpful for background info. But, as is the case now in the Internet age, I found I knew more than they did about the Parador of our choice. By calling direct to Spain I was able to book a room that I had been told was not available by the local rep.
Hotel Booking Tips and Accommodation Websites
There are many inconsistencies in prices for hotels and you may find different information on different websites. For instance American booking websites showed very few options and they tended to be much more expensive than booking directly at the source. I still always like to take a look at Expedia.com because they offer a lot of hotel background information, maps and pictures. Also note that sometimes a hotel chain’s main site may have different rates than the hotel’s own website.
Bookassist.com lists apartments, aparthotels, hostals and hotels with lots of details and photos. They offer a wide selection of hotels, hostals and apartments that are not available through any other source. And the rates are much cheaper than many American hotel websites.
High Tech Hotels: You can sometimes find much better rates here than on other booking sites. Also be warned, some of their hotels have their own sites and they might have better deals than the chain’s main site.
Apartmentos Conde Aranda — We loved the Madrid apartment we rented with Apartamentos Conde Aranda. The website is pretty hilarious (a little ostentatious), slightly confusing and rather misleading. But really, it was a fine apartment that was affordable, clean and convenient. The site makes it sound a little more designer and luxurious than it is. The furniture in our unit was all Ikea and it was perfectly ok. And the building was old and charming. Having a kitchen and washing machine was a bit of a luxury. The location was perfect for our kids who wanted to spend every day in Retiro Park. And it offered convenient access to the Metro. Mallorca’s deli selection offered delicious easy simple and gourmet food that we could picnic on in our apartment or in the park. And, though I would not make it my first priority, it was fun living among the designer clothing, furnishing and shoe stores.
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