Which Parador to stay in in Andalusia?

Old Sep 11th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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AVS
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Which Parador to stay in in Andalusia?

My husband and I with my 3 year old are planning to visit Madrid and Andalusia for about 2 weeks in end of Dec. We are very interested in staying at one of the paradores. Have a couple of quick questions -

- For our white towns loop, we are wondering whether Ronda is a better base or Arcos is a better base?
- Out of Ronda and Arcos, is there a general preference on whose parador is better?
- Granada parador just looks too awesome but way too expensive, understandably so... any way to get it cheaper?
- Any other paradors in anadalusia that are absolutely not to be missed? I love those that are in old castles, but do not see any in the white towns area where we are going to be based.
- has anybody ever used the young persons discount? Does it work well? I am 30 years old exact but my husband is more.. Hopefully it will work for us

Will appreciate your guidance tremendously on this ... Will be doing another post to get more general guidance on the overall trip itinerary.
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 11:30 AM
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Between Sevilla and Cordoba, Carmona is a good base. Carmona is a typical white town with a Roman necropole, several impressive churches, bars and restaurants.

The Parador in Carmona is very good - but we liked the hotel Alcazar de la Reina even better (less touristy, more authentic).

www.alcazar-reina.es
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 11:51 AM
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Two of many helpful threads about the region and the paradors:



http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34760602



http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35092028
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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We stayed two nights at the Ronda parador - loved it. We spent 2 days exploring Ronda and then did Arcos as a day trip. We felt we saw all of Arcos in a few hours. It was lovely.

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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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We loved the Arcos parador but it is not in a historic building. Did you look into Ubeda, Baeza, and Jaen?

Will you be flying into Malaga, by any chance?

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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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Hi AVS,
I've stayed in all the Andalusian paradors, so I'll try to make some comparisons for you.

Ronda vs. Arcos:
Opinions vary here regarding which is a more captivating town and which offers a better base for exploration. Since I've used both, I'm partial to Ronda because in my eyes it's a more prosperous and generally prettier place, and more romantic at night, although much larger and more tourist saturated during the day. And the access to the Parador is much easier in Ronda than negotiating a car up the extremely narrow lanes to the top of Arcos. For me, there's simply more to hold my interest in Ronda and the surrounding extraordinarily beautiful countryside.

Also Ronda lies closer to the white towns that I find most fascinating: Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, Benaoján (for visiting La Pileta caves) and Gaucín. I find the Serranía de Ronda to be one of Andalucía's most scenic spots.
Both paradors, however, boast commanding views of the countryside. Arcos lies closer to the sherry triangle of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. It depends on your interests, really.

Even the standard rooms at the Ronda Parador are quite spacious, with sitting areas and balconies. The Parador is perched directly at the edge of the Tajo (gorge). The dining is better, I think, in Ronda restaurants, and all the nooks and crannies of the Old Arab Quarter, La Ciudad, are a delight to explore.

We visited the Granada Parador in February to talk to management and get a look at the newly renovated (stem to stern) rooms. Since it's the most highly coveted of all Paradors, it doesn't normally make rooms available to the Parador discount plans. In the past, a few rooms in low season (Nov.-Feb.) have been available to those 60 and over on the Golden Age plan (room & breakfast), but I'm not seeing many available dates for this discount in the upcoming months, particularly during the holiday season-school vacation at the end of Dec. All of the 40 rooms may be fully booked now for those dates.

The less expensive 4 star alternative to the Granada Parador is the Hotel Alhambra Palace. The 1 star Hotel America next door to the Parador is closed Dec.-Feb. The Hotel Guadalupe, across from the Alhambra parking lots, offers low rates all year long plus discounts on parking.

The other historically significant Paradors in Andalucía are the 16th century ducal palace Parador in the beautiful Renaissance town of Ubeda, north of Granada, and the Parador of Jaén, which is a modern structure built next to the Castle of Santa Catalina, high above the city, with extraordinary views of the miles and miles of olive groves below. Either of these could be visited before or after Granada.

I've enjoyed the fortress Parador of Carmona, but I wouldn't use it as a base to explore Seville, since it lies 40 km. from the capital. We did so once, as friends wanted to do an all-parador southern Spain trip, but the driving back and forth to Seville proved tedious. I would return for a night between Sevilla and Córdoba.

And if your itinerary includes Málaga, the lovely stone Parador Gibralfaro atop the city affords great views and is a nice, peaceful spot to undwind.

The paradors of Nerja, Cádiz, Córdoba (outside of town), Mojácar (far to the east) are modern structures. The lovely Parador of Cazorla lies deep within the stunning Cazorla Nature Park-makes a perfect spot for R&R and hiking. The Ayamonte and Mazagón Paradors lie to the west, the Costa de la Luz.
Antequera is an interesting monument- filled town with Parador, but I see it as a one night stay on a drive between Sevilla and Granada.

Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Thanks for the quick responses... We have not looked into Ubeda, Baeza and Jaen as yet ... The parador in Jaen looks real nice though .. are these towns pretty in themselves to make the visit worthwhile or is Jaen known for its parador only? Is Granada doable as two day trips from Jaen if we do not want to stay in Granada?

Cannot settle on the best place to make a base for the white towns? Will Carmona be too far?
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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AVS,
Carmona does not make a base for the white towns at all-just too far.

Ubeda is a gorgeous Renaissance filled palace-monument town in and of itself.
Jaén is not as attractive but worth a quick look. Yes, you could make two day trips into Granada from Jaén, as you could from Nerja.
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Old Sep 11th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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Thanks a lot, Maribel for the very detailed response... Definitely helps... I will look into all of these options and maybe come back for some more guidance if needed...


Thank you ekscrunchy for the two helpful threads .... I would not want anybody to have to repeat info, so if there are any more threads that anyone thinks highly of, it will be highly appreciated...
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 03:54 AM
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Here is a good one. I am interested because I still have this trip on my radar...perhaps this coming January..



http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35089285
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Here is my trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34979455

We stayed at both the Jaen Parador and the Ronda Parador and loved them both.

We stopped in Jaen on our way down from Madrid. It was a good stopping point. The city is nice. We went through this very large church. But the great thing is the view from the top of the Parador. It is just gorgeous. We have many great photos. The Parador is a NEW castle built next to the ruins of an old castle. So if authenticity is important to you, just know that. But being exceptionally castle-deprived, I didn't care and thought it was a very neat place. They bring you breakfast in bed in the morning. That was wonderful! It was just a very relaxing way to begin our trip.

The next morning we toured the old castle next door. We found that ALL tour guides in Spain were extraordinarily helpful and really wanted us to understand and enjoy out experience. They all knew some English and were really great.


I haven't been to the Arcos one, but the Ronda Parador was absolutely amazing. Pay the extra 20 euros for the upgraded room. Your room will literally hang out over the gorge. I could have thrown my husband to his death if I could have lifted him! I completely loved Ronda. It was not touristized.

I highly recommend the Parador system. It was an ingenious idea someone had and I wish every country had a similar way of doing it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 06:21 AM
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Hey, I dug up some pictures that I had uploaded!

Jaen Parador:

http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/3.jpg
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/5.jpg
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/6.jpg
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/7.jpg
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/9.jpg

View of our hotel in Seville (Dona Maria - the one with the pool) from the Cathedral in Seville. I highly recommend the Dona Maria - amazing location:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/11.jpg

Driving to Ronda:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/21.jpg

Ronda Parador:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/22.jpg

The view from our room (notice the white knuckles):
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/23.jpg
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/24.jpg

The parador is on the right:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/25.jpg

From the bell tower in Ronda:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/32.jpg

Sunset on our balcony:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/33.jpg

Ultralight flying over the valley by our room:
http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/35.jpg


Sorry, indulge my trip down memory lane. I want to go back!!!



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Old Sep 12th, 2008, 06:23 AM
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Oops - Ultralight photo:

http://www.acrobend.com/pix/lowspain/36.jpg
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