LOOKING for somewhere out of this world for the perfect escape in Spain?
Want a place to really luxuriate and properly treat a loved one?
Already know the Costas and the capital city? Well here is the Olive Press’ hand-picked guide of 20 places to check out …an amazing mix of mountain escapes, city palaces and wine estates.
- La Donaira, El Gastor, Cadiz
AN eco-retreat of only nine suites (and two yurts), La Donaira’s medicinal garden alone is home to around 200 varieties of herbs and flowers, many going into its homemade soaps and lotions, as well as dishes in its kitchens.
Exclusive in the extreme, guests must leave their cars at a main gate and get brought up by 4x4s past its vineyards and olive groves. That is unless you helicopter in.
A restored cortijo with a glorious central space and an open plan kitchen, guests watch the chefs create culinary magic with local ingredients, almost all of it sourced from the farm.
Each suite is impeccably private with picture windows offering amazing vistas towards the Grazalema Natural Park.
You hike from the door, with vultures and eagles soaring overhead, and for those who love horses, it has its very own studfarm with a 90-strong herd of Lusitanos and an Irish horse whisper Seamus to take you on a hack.
Wine tasting sessions are offered by the resident sommelier, while you can relax in the sybaritic spa, complete with sauna and hammam.
2. The Alfonso XIII, Sevilla
This Andalucian institution was opened for the Sevilla Expo of 1928 and nothing much has changed, especially its unrelenting luxury.
One of Spain’s grandest hotels, its corridors gleam with Moorish tiles and its lifts with gold trimming, while its grounds still hold a strong allure.
A perfect central location between the cathedral and Plaza Espana, its celebrated guests have included everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Rita Hayworth (whose father was from the city) and Jackie Kennedy to Princess Diana. The 1962 movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here.
Many of the rooms have balconies and private terraces and the swimming pool area is the perfect place to relax after a day’s sightseeing in Andalucia’s most evocative city.
CASTILLA Y LEON
3. Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine, Sardon de Duero, Valladolid
If you are looking to combine a spot of wine tasting with a complete chill out, this stunning spa hotel in classic Ribera del Duero vineyard territory is the perfect option.
The 900-year-old former abbey is one of the most luxurious hotels in Spain and is priced accordingly.
Founded by monks in 1146, much of its original structure has been respected, although the former cells are anything but monastic and are now wonderfully smart rooms, while their former refectory is now the domain of celebrated chef Marc Segarra Saune.
Meanwhile its ‘spa sommelier’ appropriately offers guests a glass of wine before advising on suitable vinotherapy treatments, before running a wine bath, looking out on the nearby hills.
4. Castilla Termal Valbuena, San Bernardo, Valladolid
Santa Maria de Valbuena is one of the best-preserved 12th century Cistercian monasteries in Europe.
Now converted into a beautiful 79-room hotel, it stretches over 18,000 square metres, counting its own vineyards, a thermal spa built into the monastery’s arches as well as an outdoor pool.
The Cistercian monks who occupied the monastery are the fathers of the Duero wines, which are still served alongside the hotel’s carefully selected a la carte menu. The gastronomy is based on traditional and modern dishes, made with high-quality products from the region.
5. Marques de Riscal, Elciego, Alava
Fast becoming one of Spain’s most emblematic buildings, thanks to the design by globally recognised architect Frank Gehry, the man behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim.
Avant-garde, neoclassical style, this is a work of art, with tilted walls, zigzag windows and high ceilings peppered throughout its 43 rooms and suites.
Sitting in a famous vineyard that dates back to 1858 – the oldest in the region – it also counts a vinotherapy spa and fittingly a Michelin starred restaurant.
When not unwinding, guests can learn more about wine-making on one of the daily tours of the vineyard’s state-of-the-art facilities.
6. Torre del Visco, Teruel
It is easily one of the most remote hotels in Europe… and you can understand why if you make it this far.
A stunning spot set in 220 acres, its nearest village is nearly 20 minutes away and the drive alone takes about five minutes from the main gate.
Run by British owners, who know Spain like that back of their hand, it counts on luxurious accommodation, amazing views and landscape.
Set in the Mataranya hills, it is great for trekking, hiking and bird watching, while guests are spoilt with the most perfect swimming spot in an ice cool river that runs through the grounds.
Food-wise the restaurant is a delight with most of its produce coming from the grounds or extremely near.
7. Alcaufar Vell, Alcaufar
Why not explore Menorca this year, basing yourself in the traditional and rustic charm of this 21 room converted medieval Moorish fortress.
The outdoor swimming pool is located within tranquil gardens.
The nearby village of Alcaufar is an easy stroll and you can also hike along the woodland coastal trails, as well as having the option to swim at its nearby beach.
For those who want to travel further afield, bike rental is available and you have the option of staff packing you a picnic to take with you.
CASTILLA LA MANCHA
8. Molino de Alcuneza, Alcuneza, Guadalajara
This is the perfect base to enjoy the wonderful rural region of Guadalajara, known for its nature and the medieval towns of Siguenza, Atienza and Medinaceli.
Comfortable rooms are complimented by a well known local restaurant that counts its own Michelin star.
Even better it is said to have one of the best breakfasts in Spain and its head chef Samuel Moreno, has grafted in many of the best known kitchens in the country.
And after a long day of walking or sightseeing you can chill out in its spa, which counts on a hamman and sauna.
9. La Caminera, Ciudad Real
The options are endless at this very exclusive country estate, which counts its very own Michelin star restaurant.
Set in amazing countryside in the wilds of Ciudad Real, many guests arrive by plane and helicopter, which says it all.
There is definitely no shortage of things to do – with its own golf course, airfield, wine tasting events, outdoor yoga, traditional horse carriage ride, eagle spotting or you can even buy a special La Mancha Sunset experience.
The spa offers an Olive Oil Spa and tasting, as well as wellness courses for cancer treatments.
10. Valdepalacios, Toledo
Located close to Madrid, Valdepalacios is the only five-star GL country hotel in Spain.
En route to the emblematic town of Toledo, it counts on an amazing 600-hectare estate, surrounded by verdant meadows.
There are great walks around the estate and you will see plenty of wildlife, including stags and partridge and the hotel organises photographic tours to test your eye.
A restaurant is run by well known local chef Jesus Hernandez and you can even book a cookery class with him.
There are just 27 sizeable rooms split between the original estate, built in the 19th century, or the grounds, each with stunning views of the countryside.
11. Hotel Palacio Vallier, Valencia
This luxury five-star hotel in the centre of Valencia has been designed with a chic, elegant and minimalist theme.
It has long been a favoured spot – going back to Roman times and later became a perfume factory dating back to the third century.
Marble walled bathrooms and a mirrored restaurant create an elegant atmosphere in which to luxuriate and live life to the full.
12. Hostal Empuries, Costa Brava
Set by the Roman ruins of Empuries, this rural farmhouse hotel is an iconic space set in rolling hills near the coastline of Catalunya.
First built in 1907 to house the archeologists digging at the nearby site, its location right next to the beach, couldn’t be better.
Known for its sustainability it was the first hotel in Europe to win the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) award in 2010.
Full of linens, wicker rocking chairs and Spanish pottery you can make yourself completely at home and enjoy a taste of rustic Spain, right by the sea.
13. Terra Dominicata, Tarragona
This is Priorat territory. Spain’s biggest hitting red wine region, with its vinos reaching, famously, strengths of 16 degrees.
Needing a breathtaking hotel to match, the 12th century Terra Dominicata doesn’t disappoint.
As pretty as a picture, the Serra de Montsant mountains soar over the historic hostelry and its wide expanses of vines.
Cypress trees flank the terracotta coloured hotel, which was originally set up by Carthusian monks, who were known to enjoy a tipple and only wanted the finest – making sure they got it by developing their wine-making skills.
You can, of course, explore the working vineyard, before sampling its wines at supper in the fine-dining restaurant.
14. Cas Gasi
Cas Gasi is a luxury agriturismo right in the heart of the island, a genuine address book secret, that is the escape for dozens of famous models and actors.
It’s not cheap, but the organically-certified farm grows much of its vegetables, produces all its olive oil and has a superb restaurant on hand.
It’s a stylemeisters dream, with dozens of wonderful places to stretch out and relax and local countryside is great for a morning hike or evening stroll.
Family-run, its staff are charming and friendly.
15. Six Senses Ibiza
It is one of the most exciting openings in the Balearics of recent times.
Finally launched last year, the hip Six Senses brand has chosen the perfect spot, near Cala Xarraca beach.
Nestled into the amazing surroundings, this was once an olive estate with a 400-year-old mill.
Most of the 100 suites have amazing sea views, while much of the restaurant’s food is grown on the estate.
16. Son Bunyola, Banyalbufar
HAVE you ever wondered what it would be like to holiday like billionaire Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson? Now you can!
The Virgin boss’s own private estate of Son Bunyola, in Mallorca has three luxurious historic buildings, each sleeping eight to 10 people and offering all the expected Branson benefits such as your personal Michelin star chef, private jet and crewed yacht.
The cost of a week’s rental runs into the tens of thousands but includes all drinks and meals tailored to the client’s requirements. After all, quality costs!
17. Hotel Pueblo Astur
Asturias is known as ‘the roof of the world’ and one of the greenest places in Europe.
But few places do justice to its breathtaking landscape like Pueblo Astur.
Once a small rural caserio, today it is one of the most original and luxurious places to stay in Spain with, deservedly, five stars. A massive multi-million euro investment brought dozens of original paintings and sculptures, including Salvador Dali’s striking giant ‘Newton’ in the main courtyard.
There is a spa, a variety of restaurants and a big wine cellar, with some of Spain’s top bottles, while the views are maximised from just about every corner of the hotel.
18. El Gran Hotel Nagari Boutique, Vigo
Looking for a great place to base yourself in Galicia for a good look around?
Vigo is an excellent city, full of interesting architecture and museums … and best of all, it has this amazing hotel, designed with style and comfort very much in mind.
Elegant with a spa, roof terrace with a pool looking over the nearby beach and sea, the rooms are sumptuous in the extreme.
The location at the heart of the city couldn’t be better and it is easy to get out and about and explore the nearby estuary and celebrated Cies isles nearby.
19. A Quinta da Auga, Santiago
It is the first time that the celebrated Xacobeo of Santiago de Compostela has been extended by a year.
Now you can make the most of it by checking into this historic hotel on the outskirts of Spain’s holiest city.
Surrounded by trees and the river Sur, this converted 18th century home is a wonderful rural escape incredibly close to the ancient old town and cathedral..
It boasts oodles of charm and counts an excellent restaurant, as well as leafy gardens.
You dine in a warm and charming dining room in winter, while the tables line the courtyards in summer.
20. Hotel Arts, Barcelona
Towering 44 floors above the sea, this 5/star urban resort is a tower of blue glass and steel. Its restaurant has two michelin stars and includes a rooftop spa, two outdoor pools which overlook the sea and gardens.
- Finca La Donaira: A Spanish Shangri-La in the Serrania de Ronda
- REVIEW: Style and substance after stunning overhaul of Madrid hotel Rosewood Villa Magna
- Ten very good reasons to make Spain’s Extremadura a travel destination in 2022