I’m starting a series of blogs this month that will cover our trips between April and June of 2015. We went on three epic vacations to Spain, Scotland & England and the Norwegian Fjords. I prefer to go in order, so I’m beginning with a review of our hotels in Spain.
Hotel Casa 1800 Granada- www.hotelcasa1800granada.com
This trip was a 10th anniversary splurge. Seeing the Alhambra has been on my bucket list for years, ever since reading an historical fiction novel where the Alhambra was the setting. (Thanks Henry III and your first wife, Catherine of Aragon). So we decided to splurge on the hotel in Granada.
This hotel was stunning. It’s hidden on a back corner in the center of the old town near Plaza Nueva. It’s just a few minutes walk to a spectacular view of the Alhambra as well. Breakfast was an extra fee, but they did have a free happy hour with snacks and cold drinks (which on two days we actually made a lunch out of it). The hotel is an old mansion and the open air courtyard in the center is its main draw. It has an old-world feeling with old Spanish shutters and beautiful plants and fountains surrounding plush chairs and tables for breakfast.
Our room was a junior suite and the best part about it was how dark and cold it felt (in the hot Spanish summer having a place to cool off will keep you sane). We were there in April, but it was already 80 degrees so I can only imagine July and August! The room had a separate area for a single bed but there was no door or wall, just a step down and half a wall-enough privacy for our son to go to bed and we could sit on the couch and have some wine. There was also a private courtyard attached to the room (unfortunately, the door was next to our son’s bed so there was no way to enjoy it after he fell asleep). But we did sit out there to relax during the day.
The room was perfect, tastefully decorated like an mansion from the 20th century, I kind of felt like Royalty while staying there! The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful in giving advice on restaurants. (Also the girls loved playing with Nathan). I would highly recommend this hotel if you want to splurge!
Hotel Enfrente Arte Ronde-www.enfrentearte.com
So our next stop was only for one night in the beautiful hill town of Ronda. This hotel was pretty awesome in its funkiness. When you enter the hotel you are immediately looking at the front half of an old car. Their are tires as tables, cars as booths, and American pop culture references are lining the walls like an Andy Warhol exhibit. It looks like 1960’s America with a Spanish influence. This decor fans out to the entire hotel, the rooms are colorful, glass coke bottles are lamps in the rooms and a camel bench adorns the outdoor garden.
I wish we had stayed in this hotel for more than one night, it was so much fun. There was a pool but it was actually a very windy day and the pool wasn’t heated so we didn’t get to use it. But the two best parts of this hotel: open bar 24/7 and the amazing free breakfast.
Let me repeat that: open bar. That’s right, there is a bar in the main area of the hotel with glasses, a beer tap, wine and alcohol that is for guests to take at any time. We ended up putting Nathan to bed and going outside on our patio and drinking our free alcohol until it started raining-at which time we sat in the hallway because we weren’t going to bed when we could have free wine!
The room itself had a double bed and a single bed, no partition, Nathan’s bed was in front of ours and it was one of their larger rooms. The toilet was funny because it was in a bench. I can’t explain it, here is a photo:
The breakfast was amazing and their chef was the friendliest guy who got to know every person in the room while making us fresh eggs and chorizo sausages, homemade cakes, chocolate crepes, and as much fresh fruit as you could eat. It was a huge spread and we enjoyed it.
The hotel is located at the edge of town so everywhere you go is uphill from the hotel but it’s totally worth it. This hotel was another huge winner in my book!
Arcos de la Frontera
Hotel Los Olivos- www.hotel-losolivos.es
So I am very mixed about this hotel, it wasn’t bad but it was definitely my least favorite place on this trip. We stayed for two nights and if I had known, I would have swapped and stayed two nights in Ronda instead.
The hotel is in the new town and everything worth seeing is in the old town, so it’s about a ten minute walk to all the sites. I would probably try to find a hotel in the old town if I stayed again just because it has more character.
The first issue with the hotel was the location of our room. It was on the ground floor, next to the breakfast room. There was literally a table for two set up next to our room. We asked about the noise level and we were told by the staff that it wouldn’t be an issue, they would just close the door to the breakfast room. However, a couple did decide to eat breakfast at that table next to our room, so closing the door to the room with the food doesn’t do us any good when people are literally eating at our door. We could hear them as if they were dining in our room.
Second of all, the windows to the outside are not very soundproof and for a small town on a side road, there was a lot of traffic at night! We could hear every car going by, and prior to Nathan falling asleep he kept asking “what is that mommy!?” so it was keeping him awake too.
The room itself was small and we had three single beds, which was a little Lucy and Ricky but it wasn’t a huge deal. It was also a little outdated and the beds were hard, but it was clean and safe, so this also wasn’t a deal breaker, just not as nice as the last two hotels so it was hard not to compare. The free breakfast was decent, nothing amazing but nothing terrible either and it satisfied us.
Overall, if you are looking for a money saving hotel that has super easy parking (an actual garage next to the hotel which is amazing in this tricky town for cars), that’s just slightly out of the main area, then this is a great option. I would request a room on a higher floor to avoid street and breakfast noise though. I would only stay here again if I was looking for a cheaper option that was still a decent hotel.
In Seville, we decided to stay at an apartment we found on homeaway.com, which is rented out through a company called Home At Home. The link above is the actual apartment we stayed at for our three nights in Seville.
We were going to Seville the weekend before the April Fair (a week long celebration for locals). We thought that hotels would be easier to come by because the Fair started after we left, but hotels were booked solid that weekend-or extremely overpriced. We had a hard time finding apartments on homeaway.com as well. In fact, we got the last apartment from Home At Home as well.
This apartment was a fantastic deal and a fabulous location. The owner is an architect and takes great pride in the design of the place. Its very modern and low key and we really liked it. It was especially nice to give Nathan his own bedroom after a week of sharing a room!
The apartment was located in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, which is about a ten minute walk from all the sites. Parking was easy because our host saved a parking spot that he found directly across from the apartment and we parked the car and didn’t touch it for three days. (We only rented a car to get us from city to city but never actually used the car once we got anywhere).
The manager who checked us in gave us great information about local places to eat away from all the tourists. He told us about the best place for ham, the best place for drinks, best place for tapas and best flamenco. The actual owner of Home Away even provided us with a babysitter for one night-his step daughter. He gave us his business card which helped get us into a tapas place with a huge wait and the flamenco show that was packed with a local crowd. We flashed his card and BAM-two seats and a table at a fully booked place. We had two amazing local experiences that night thanks to the owner of Home At Home, which made our time in Seville incredibly special. I would highly recommend staying here or at one of their other apartments, they all look gorgeous. It was totally reasonably priced for such a good amount of space and the location, during a busy time of year in Spain.
In fact, the only negative comment I have, is that they never communicated to us when we needed to check out. We had a late flight that day so we were planning on hanging around the apartment and leaving around noon when a cleaning person came by at 9:30 and we had to race around to get ready to leave (Nathan was actually still asleep!!). We ended up leaving at 11 because sleepy kids are hard to rush and ended up walking around Seville for a few hours. When we came back to the car, the owner was walking in the new person to the apartment (so hopefully we left enough time for them to clean it!).
Overall, we stayed at three out of four hotels that were outstanding and one that was forgettable on an unforgettable trip!
Next up: Trip report from Granada!