The Andalusian city of Granada, in the south of Spain, should be on every traveller’s bucket list, with its Arab citadel of Alhambra and the Generalife pleasure palace and gardens, as well as its rich gastronomy, with several routes for tapas bar-hopping. Here’s our guide to the best places to stay in this provincial capital.
The Alhambra Palace picked up its fifth star last year, making it the oldest five-star hotel in Spain (it opened in 1910). Viewable from far outside the city, it offers luxurious accommodation on the hilltop beside the Alhambra, with many of its 108 suites and rooms boasting spectacular views of Granada. There’s also a smart restaurant, and a bar famed for its cocktails, which can be enjoyed on a terrace with one of the best views in the city.
The five-star Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula is housed in a 16th-century convent and 12th-century casa morisca (Moorish house) on the stately thoroughfare of Gran Via. Its 75 rooms – ranging from standard singles to the Bishop’s Suite – are centred around a beautiful internal cloister, some with views onto a 14th-century Moorish patio. The in-house restaurant, El Claustro, is superb, but if you’re heading out, the bars and eateries of central Granada are about a two-minute walk away.
You relax the moment you walk into Hotel Casa 1800, an oasis of calm within a gorgeous 16th-century building. Tucked away on a side-street at the bottom of Albaicin, its 25 rooms ooze period charm, with stone-flagged floors, exquisite wooden furniture and romantic balconies; the Deluxe rooms and the 1800 Suite also boast magnificent views of the Alhambra. A complimentary merienda – the Spanish equivalent of afternoon tea – is available to guests every day.
Hospes Palacio de los Patos offers elegant accommodation within walking distance of Granada’s cathedral and shopping district. The rooms are spread between a converted 19th-century palace and a modern building that provides a pleasing contrast to its historical surroundings – you can book them by themselves, or as part of packages such as the Hospes Christmas Experience or the Romantic Getaway. The in-house restaurant has one of the most romantic terraces in the city.
El Ladrón de Agua (which translates as The Water Thief) is a family-run hotel situated on one of the prettiest streets in Granada, at the foot of the Alhambra. It takes its name from a collection of poetry entitled Forgotten Memories of Granada, by the 19th-century Spanish poet Juan Jimenez, and each of its 15 sumptuous bedrooms is themed around a poem from the collection. Guests can choose a book from the well-stocked library and are treated to complimentary wine and tapas early evening.
Occupying an understated but beautiful 17th-century palace, Gar Anat is a three-star boutique that calls itself a ‘‘pilgrim’s hotel’’: it was formerly an inn where peregrinos (pilgrims) walking the Santiago de Compostella – via the Andalusian paths known as the Camino Mozarabe – would stay. There are 15 rooms, all with high, oak-beamed ceilings and individually decorated in a classic-meets-modern style. The trendy cocktail bars of Calle San Matias are on your doorstep, too.
For comfortable budget accommodation in the heart of Granada, Macia Plaza takes some beating. Located on Plaza Nueva, one of the historic centre’s main squares, it’s within a 10-minute walk of the Alhambra (which can be seen from many of the rooms), the cathedral, the old Moorish quarter of Albaicin, and Realejo, the former Jewish district (check out its street art). A buffet breakfast is served every morning and guests have free gym access.
Leon Beckenham contributed additional reporting to this article.