A 5 star escape to Spain
Spain used to be known as a budget holiday destination, but times are changing rapidly. Although it is still possible to spend as little as 25 Euros per night on your stay in this Southern European country, there is a whole world of possibilities out there for your next luxury holiday.
And hey, if you are not one of the happy few, there is no harm in fantasising that one day you might be able to afford just such a holiday. Here are nine marvellous ideas for all tastes to help you dream about your next vacation.
1. Rent a luxury retreat
If you value your privacy, renting your villa in Spain might be the thing for you. These types of accommodations tend to have lots of space, and of course, they are the ideal place for your splendid isolation.
Let a personal concierge cater to all your needs whilst you enjoy the sunset in a truly unique setting. Marvel at the golden beaches of the Spanish Costas or soak up nature in the mountains.
2. Board Al Andalus, a palace on wheels
Or you might like to be constantly on the move whilst holidaying. In that case, why not join a journey through the south of Spain on board a palace on wheels?
Meet Al Andalus, Spain’s answer to the Orient Express.
The train was built in France for use by members of the British monarchy when travelling between Calais and the French Riviera. The Al Andalus still features the original elements that make this train a genuine railway classic. But fear not, you can still enjoy the latest technologies like onboard Wi-Fi, eat à la carte in the restaurant coach or the privacy of your room and feel secure as a specialised crew is on board to take care of all your needs.
3. Go jet-setting in Marbella
Alternatively, go to Marbella, this is one of those places where the rich and famous flock for their summer holidays. Do as Vladimir Putin, George Clooney and Saudi Royalty: get your mansion in Marbella.
Or if you are not attached to your place under the sun, go partying with A-list celebrities: Shaggy, Paris Hilton, Kylie Jenner Kardashian have all been spotted here.
Start with Nikki Beach Club, located on one of the finest white sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol. There is no better place to enjoy a bottle of Champaign. Yes, just one bottle might set you back 9000 Euros, but who cares?
Alternatively, go for a wine and tapas tour. Discover Marbella’s culinary side and treat yourself to some of the best Spanish products on a tour through the old town. Try traditional tapas, local wine, and olive oils as you learn more about this beautiful town.
Check here for rates and availability.
4. Follow the Parador trail
Perhaps you have a more classical taste. Then the Spanish Paradores are probably a good choice for you. The Spanish government owns these monumental hotels. Castles, monasteries and palaces have been transformed into accommodations with all the modern conveniences whilst retaining the essence of what made them so historic. These venues are magical places filled with legends, allowing you to explore the past from the comfort of your bedroom.
I have visited (but not stayed at) several of the Paradores, and whilst most venues are stunning, if I had to choose one, it would be the Parador of Santiago de Compostella.
Or even better, follow the Silver route, i.e. travel from the north of Spain to the south, whilst letting the Paradores on the road dictate your itinerary. Do end your journey in one of the most beautiful cities globally, Seville.
Okay, here you have to step away from the Parador chain, instead stay at the five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII, right in the city centre.
5. Eat Michelin star food in San Sebastian
Try San Sebastian or Donostia, known in the Basque language, if you plan your vacation around meals. This city must feature high on your wish list if you are a foodie. San Sebastian in the north of Spain is renowned for its Basque cuisine. The city is home to a high concentration of restaurants boasting Michelin stars. It is the second city with the most Michelin stars per capita globally. Donostia and its surroundings count three 3-star restaurants, one two-star and none less than six 1-Michelin star restaurants.
Combine your visit with a trip to neighbouring Bilbao (100 kilometres). The city has eight (!) 1-star restaurants and, yes, just one three-star restaurant.
Tip: take a break from stuffing your face. Visit the Guggenheim of modern and contemporary art in Bilbao during your stay.
6. Shop till you drop in Madrid
Do you like shopping?
As in most countries, the place to go shopping is Madrid. The city caters to a wealthy international clientele, as some of the finest shopping opportunities in Spain can be found in Madrid.
Yes, here I must start name-dropping: Carmina Shoemaker, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, OhmyGod, Boutique Lladró, Joyería Vasari, Roberto Verino, Calzados Bravo, Lencería Rigat, Perodri Joyeros, Purificación García, Carolina Herrera, Alfaro 1926, Meermin, Carla, Berwick 1707, Iro, Artestilo, Objeto de Arte, Toledano, Las Rozas Village, The Style Outlets.
Did I mention Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Armani?
These are just a few of the brands and shops you can find in Madrid. Of course, the selection of stores available is a big draw in its own right. However, many tourists like to combine a shopping trip with a visit to some of the world’s most famous museums like Museo del Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.
Wait there is a more in Madrid
For a quick bite, visit San Miguel Market in the city centre. It is located within a short distance of the central square, Plaza Mayor. Enjoy a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods and other foods at this famous gourmet market. If you prefer a guided food tour, check here for rates and availability.
7. Discover CÉSAR MANRIQUE’s Lanzarote
Or, if you prefer beaches but are not a fan of mass tourism, visit Lanzarote. Culture, architecture, and fabulous nature come together on this volcanic island. It is the fourth-largest of the Canary Islands.
The island is located 125 kilometres (78 miles) off the coast of Africa and 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) from the Iberian Peninsula. Lanzarote blissfully lacks the high rise tourist developments typical of the neighbouring islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. This is primarily due to one of its famous inhabitants, César Manrique, an artist and an architect.
Stay in one of the five-star resorts on the island to enjoy art, architecture, fabulous nature and Atlantic views.
8. Sleep like a king in a castle
Deep in the mountains of Malaga in the south of Spain, you will find Castillo de Monda. An old fortress now turned luxury hotel. During your stay, enjoy the pool, a massage, delicious food, and the surrounding views.
9. Discover what Mallorca has to offer during the winter
Avoid the crowds and enjoy the best of what Mallorca has to offer during the low season. For lower prices, you get much more. As a bonus, the weather is pleasant, with average temperatures between 15 and 25º Celsius during the day. Indeed, too cold for swimming, ideal for an active holiday.
Enjoy the century-old beauty of the island’s capital Palma de Mallorca, or explore the interior. Go for a hike, cycle around the island, discover authentic restaurants.
To check hotel availability and rates, click here.
Written in cooperation with Renfe and Fitur. Pictures courtesy Pixabay, Renfe and my own.
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