Granada Hotels: choosing between 2!

Aug 30th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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Granada Hotels: choosing between 2!


If anyone has any experience between these 2 Granada hotels:

1. Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol

2. Hotel Puerta de las Granadas.

I have booked at Puerta, but I needed a room for 3 persons, so they are adding a bed. The rooms look TINY, and I'm wondering if this is wise. Rather, is it better to book 2 rooms at the Caracol?

Any and all info's me travelling with my parents.

Many thanks in advance...Deppie
Deppie5 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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I don't know these two hotels but we stayed at the Hotel Zaguan del Darro -

We thought the hotel was good, clean and everything worked. Good location and nice people on reception.

KayF is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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My friends just returned from the Caracol. It was something Maribel suggested and I mentioned it to them in turn as they do not follow Fodos. They really LOVED it and especially the owner.
They said he was quite helpul and charming.

They also loved the hotel. They are Belgian would not really care for a typical hotel. They prefer unique settings and thought it was romantic.
amsdon is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for your replies.....

I think we need to splurge for the Caracol
Deppie5 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 08:24 AM
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You will not be disappointed. Too bad Maribel's Guide to Granada isn't out yet.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 08:35 AM
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I agree & was hoping there would be a complete Maribel's guide to Andalucia soon....Maribel?
amsdon is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 12:15 PM
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hi amsdon,
It's coming soon, and since you're contemplating an Andalusian journey in '09, I'll try to get it all together by then. O I have my Granada file done-just need to add pictures and allow it to be "tested" before I put it up. But I'll post my (lengthy) review of the Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol, so that folks can decide whether it's a "good fit" for them, or not.

I'm so glad your friends loved it, but as you said it's unique and very far from being a "typical" hotel-much more like an intimate guest house, which may not fit all travelers' requirements or tastes.

I'll be back soon with my review, although those who read through all the Trip Advisor reviews will get a fair sense, I think, of what the Carmen is like. We stayed in February and had absolutely no issue at all with our room temperature (we occupied the lovely La Torre room), which was a quibble of one Trip Advisor guest.
We also found Manuel to be a very gracious and caring (and yes, very "hands on") host. But those don't enjoy long conversations with their innkeeper(s) over breakfast and prefer to be left alone to plot their own way, perhaps it isn't the best match.
Maribel is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 12:33 PM
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Here's my review of the Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol. I hope this helps you to decide.

"An oasis of charm, tranquility and exquisite taste, this delightful town house is found just below the Hotel Alhambra Palace, at the top of the Realejo neighborhood, on the slopes of the Alhambra hill.

The friendly and refined owner, Manuel, takes great pride in his second home and kind care of his guests. Manuel is very, very much a “hands on” host, who loves to educate visitors about the history of his beloved city. Manuel is a professor of fine arts at the University of Granada, and his guest house reflects his profession and passion, with its walls adorned with the family’s impressive original art collection, and with sitting room coffee tables piled high with beautiful art tomes.

Manuel spends considerable time each morning during the breakfast hours devising daily detailed touring itineraries for his guests and dispensing dining and entertainment advice while preparing his guests’ coffee and pan con tomate. His afternoon and evening helpers, Ana and Paula, both speak excellent English and provide each guest with equally personalized service.

The house has only eight guest quarters distributed on three levels (one downstairs bedroom is handicapped accessible). But there is no elevator.

La Torre (my personal favorite) is the most requested bedroom, the tower room at the top of the house, affording complete privacy, with a delectable sit-out terrace overlooking the entire city and the Sierra Nevada. This is a highly romantic space, and the floor-to-ceiling windows afford spectacular sunrise and sunset views. The bedroom is outfitted with a comfortable king bed, a large wardrobe, flat screen TV with satellite channels and a writing desk, the robin’s egg blue walls decked out with contemporary art. The bath, up a few steps, has a walk in shower only.

But all of the beautiful, individually decorated rooms have their own unique charms. Other favorites are La Buganvilla and La Glicenia, which have direct access to the handsome verandah. In the garden, whose cypresses have been immortalized by Spanish impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla, you’ll find orange and lemon trees and walkways made of intricate geometric stone patterns.

The minute you step into the garden, you’ll feel a sense of privacy and peace, blissfully removed from the cacophony of downtown Granada.

The continental breakfast, consisting of toast or tomato bread, cold cuts, fruit, cereal, juice and coffee is served on the terrace or on marble top tables in the downstairs breakfast room/bar. The bar is self-service at night, after Manuel’s helpers leave at 11 pm. The staff is happy to serve you a drink and/or a snack in the bar or on the terrace but does ask guests not to bring food and beverages into the house from the outside, and guest quarters do not have mini bars.

Since this is a B&B rather than full service hotel, the house is not (yet) equipped with Wi-Fi, although guests are welcomed to use the front desk computer to check email or check in online for their flights.

In the reception area you'll find a plethora of brochures, maps, business cards, guide and history books about the city. Guests are asked to leave their room keys in the basket at the reception desk each morning before departing for sightseeing and are given a key to the outside gate, which is kept locked, so the house is perfectly secure.

Since the inn is located on a very steep, cobblestone way that winds its way down below the Torres Bermejas and Carmen de San Miguel restaurant (where there is free car parking), it really isn’t suitable for those with serious mobility difficulties. And the walk down to the Realejo district shops is via some steep steps (with handrails). But it’s only a five minute walk to the lively tapas bars on the Campo del Príncipe square. The Alhambra entrance pavilion is around a ten-minute uphill walk.

If you plan to arrive by car, Manuel will send you very specific instructions to reach the top of the street (where the Carmen de San Miguel restaurant is located) and warn you not to use GPS (you’ll understand why when you arrive). Then simply call Manuel upon arrival, and he or a helper will come to free you of your car, park it in his garage below (or on the street), handle your bags, and upon your departure he'll bring your car up to you pointed in the right direction for an easy exit.

If you arrive in Granada by plane, Manuel will send his trusted taxi driver to meet you. I took advantage of this service (which costs €30) for an easy return to the airport.

I've enjoyed Manuel’s warm hospitality immensely (and think he’s a “gem” of an innkeeper), and I find this intimate Carmen to suit my needs and tastes nicely. Those who prefer the anonymity (and more bells and whistles) of a large 4-5 star chain hotel (such as mini bars, elevator, ATM machine, tea/coffee making facilities, pool, in house restaurant) may not be attracted by the highly personalized and intimate experience this lodging provides.

The Carmen has been rated #1 of Granada hotels on Trip Advisor, so I suggest that you read through all the guest reviews to decide if this type of hostelry fits your particular needs or travel style."
Maribel is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 02:27 PM
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They also loved the hotel. They are Belgian would not really care for a typical hotel.>>

annhig is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 07:34 PM
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Well I no longer have my little expressions (red face here) but what I meant was this:

My Belgian friend living in USA told me that she & her hubby would not care for the "typical hotel".
She meant to explain to me that her preferences are different than many tourists (by that she means American tourists, they could care less about TV and mini bar, getting a real big bed etc.) By the way this was the young couple that drove in a jeep from Hong Kong through India and Asian back to Europe. Caracol was a perfect romantic getaway from them.

I did not mean it to sound derogatory in any way.

amsdon is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Hi amsdon,

of course I didn't think that you were being derogatory - at least not about Belgians. [anyway as I'm not Belgian or american i was unlikely to take offence at what you said].

it just struck me as a funny turn of phrase and made me laugh.

it still does.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 11:41 AM
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I knew that but thought to clarify don't want to insult any Belgians...

I do remember you and your helping me before thanks!

I was just concerned about how it sounded reading it back now.
In any ase that is sweet of you to say.

amsdon is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 05:16 PM
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What a thorough, unbelievably helpful review....I cannot thank you enough.

I did contact Manuel, and upon more thought, decided that this place is where I wanted to be.

Last time I was in Granada, I stayed at the Alhambra Palace Hotel, but costs have gone up so much....In any case, I'm pleased to stay at the Caracol....will post my thoughts when I get back.

Deppie5 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 06:16 PM
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Hi Deppie5,
I'm very glad you found the (very lengthy!) review helpful. I'm another convert from the Alhambra Palace to the Carmen. In fact, you can see the Alhambra Palace from the Carmen's terrace, just a short uphill walk away! Have a great time, and please send Manuel my warmest regards.
Maribel is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 06:26 PM
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That's actually great, b/c it would be so nice to "run" up to the Alhambra Palace for a drink!

If I may, please, 2 more quick questions, Maribel:

1. Last time I was there, I didn't even make it to town. I spent one night in Granada only. Is the Caracol walking distance to town (cathedral, etc).

2. The Friday night I'll be there is my mom's birthday, and I want to take my parent's somewhere special (after the Alhambra tour). Last time, it was Carmen de las Tomasas restaurant, which was amazing. Any tips would be helpful....Many thanks again!!! And I will give Manuel your best

Deppie5 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2008, 08:13 PM
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Hi Deppie,
Walking down into town is easy, as it's all downhill, just walk down the steep steps with railing, down the Cuesta del Realejo, then take a right onto Santa Escolástica which becomes Pavaneras, which takes you to Plaza Isabel la Católica and the center of downtown. We did this walk every day. Then to go back up to the Carmen, we took the 32 mini bus from right above Isabel la Católica and got off at the stop right above the entrance to the Alhambra Palace (bus costs 1 euro).

About special places to dine:

If you're looking for another place in the Albaicín, like las Tomasas, for the sunset views of the Alhambra, I would ask Manuel his opinion about one of the following:

Mirador de Morayma (where chef Mario Batalli recently dined while filming his culinary road trip for PBS, "Spain...on the Road Again". (I just read he had eaten here in this month's Food & Wine mag.)

Carmen de San Nicolás (which has a really pretty terrace and sumptuous interiors that looked very inviting to us-but we couldn't fit it in)

Carmen de la Verde Luna

Carmen de Aben Humeya

Or you might just want to repeat las Tomasas, since you enjoyed it so much.

We had lunch at the Huerto de Juan Ranas in the Albaicín, right below the famous San Nicolás square, where everyone goes for the gorgeous sunset views. I would go back to the terrace of the Huerto de Juan Ranas for sunset drinks on the terrace, but not to dine.

Hope this helps!
Maribel is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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My family and I are traveling to Granada in March and I have put your advice here to use. I've just left a request regarding availablity on the Carmen de la Alcubilla web site. I hope we get in because it sounds like a perfect fit for us.

Thank you for posting such useful information!
smsnyc55 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 01:07 PM
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Hi smsnyc55,
Hope there's availability for you at the Carmen; and if so, please send my warm regards to Manuel, your host!
Maribel is offline  
Jan 24th, 2009, 04:38 PM
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