Due to a friend’s illness we were unable to holiday as planned so we thought we’d take the opportunity to book into some of Spain’s Paradores – having already booked flights to and from Malaga from Newcastle along with a hire car via CarJet who, incidentally, we have found to be consistently good value (this time supplied through Goldcar – top tip take out the top up insurance at a cost of c£14 for 7 days hire as it covers damage to wheels, tyres etc).
We decided to opt for short stays per Paradore in order to provide some variety and for that reason we selected the accommodation in easy reach of each other to minimise our travel time and maximise our one week away.
The Paradore website is informative and easy to use and we planned an itinerary taking in Paradores at Ronda, Antequera, Nerja and Gibralfaro and proceeded to book online. We were able to reserve accommodation at the first three Paradore but the Malaga old town Paradore was fully booked (second top tip – book well in advance there).
The booking arrangements were less easy to transact because of this – by virtue of having to select alternative accommodation – their email correspondence prompted us to reply to a non-responsive fax number. Eventually all was confirmed, but it wasn’t a smooth process. Nor was selecting the best value tariff package. There are 5 night deals (but without breakfast or dinner) special offers for the over 55s’etc, some are mutually exclusive – top tip – maybe call the Paradore booking team if you speak the language or ask someone to call on your behalf if you don’t. We didn’t. Alternatively, you could book through Keytel, who are the official UK representatives – contact details below.
A month after booking we found ourselves in our hire car leaving Malaga airport around 10.00 one beautiful Sunday morning. We took the coast road down to Marbella and then headed inland on the A397. The route took us over the Serronia de Ronda mountain range – and provided stunning scenery before dropping down to the plain and on to Ronda. The approach thereto was less than memorable – Ronda is a sprawling conurbation – not at all attractive until one enters the old town and then onto the Puente Nuevo over the gorge to arrive at the Paradore (the old town hall splendidly converted) which sits at the head of the gorge itself, albeit next to a MacDonalds – fortunately with suitably discrete signage – but nevertheless a surprise. A journey of c110 kms from the airport, by the way.
We stayed two nights at the Ronda Paradore; we found it to be a very comfortable, even boasting its own modest grounds and swimming pool notwithstanding its location. We ate out both evenings, preferring to dine al fresco at balcony restaurants overlooking the gorge in order to enjoy the spectacular sunsets.
On day three we headed for Antequera (a journey of 90 kms) – which was a completely different experience – an ultra modern place – compared with Ronda. The Paradore had large grounds with a superb swimming pool yet was only a 5-minute walk from the town centre. Paradores seek to promote the regional cuisines of Spain, so we decided to dine in and weren’t disappointed – the tasting menu was excellent value – but be careful because what you have booked deal wise may not be properly reflected in the bill when you check out. We went out the following night – for the variety this provides.
On day 5, we headed back to the coast – a short journey towards Malaga then east on the coastal highway to Nerja (100 kms). This Paradore was more like a conventional hotel but nothing wrong with that. Perched on the cliffs above the beach, the location provided fine views of the bay. In all we had a very pleasant one night stay there.
So on day 6 it was off to Malaga Golf – 70 kms – (our alternative to Gibralfaro) for our last two nights. As the name suggests, this Paradore hosts a splendid golf course and club. The accommodation was excellent, although the swimming pool was tired. Unless one is an aviation anorak or a golf addict, this place does not have a great deal to commend it! We dined in on our first night there – the food was fine but again when it came to check out, what was charged was not in accordance with what we had booked deal-wise. We are talking tens of Euros here by the way, not hundreds, but it’s a bore to have to challenge a bill and we Brits aren’t very good at that.
On our last evening we drove into Malaga – only 10 kms away – and had superb tapas in a little bar in the old town. Perfect.
In all, we enjoyed our Paradores experience. The offering is of a consistently high standard and the objectives of the organisation are to be commended. We would stay in them again, but we would choose only Paradores that were “special”, be it by virtue of their location, history or architecture. Applying that criteria, I would stay again at both Ronda and Antequera – not that we make a habit of returning to places we’ve stayed before.
“UK Paradores representatives”:https://keytel.co.uk/index.php?mid=32&gclid=CJ_PzOSlvagCFUdP4QodXVruBw