It’s been 70 years since Spain’s first tourism boom, when bikinis were first legalised in Benidorm and buildings began sprouting up along the coastline to cater to package holidaymakers.
The tourism industry has come a long way since, but one thing remains constant – with new ultra-luxury openings, the latest in sustainable design and elegant resorts that redefine the all-inclusive holiday, Spain’s hotels remain pioneers.
From luxury travel to family holidays with style and eco travel credentials, these are the hotels helping push the envelope as Spain’s tourism revenue gets ready to surpass pre-pandemic levels by 4.7 per cent in 2023.
Madrid has been having a moment, with a slew of glamorous new hotel openings redefining the idea of grandeur.
The Ritz grabbed headlines for its luxury interior design following a €140 million buy-out by Mandarin Oriental and a €105 million renovation to restore it to its glory days from a century ago.
Competing with this grand dame, with its gleaming marble, gold finishes and ornate rooftop bar with stunning city views, is Madrid’s oldest hotel, the Grand Hotel Ingles. Set in the city’s Literary Quarter, it has just 48 guest sumptuous rooms, Art Deco design and original features complemented with burnt orange, caramel and gold.
These aren’t the only luxury hotels in Spain redefining five-star. The contemporary Madrid Edition joins them with a different vibe, focused on an all-white canvas and layered textures to create a soothing ambience, crowned by a piercing blue rooftop pool.
Ultra-luxe style goes beyond Madrid, too. The new Hotel Font de la Canya, in Catalonia’s Penedes region, is all whitewashed and green-shuttered country style, with just eight rooms opening out onto the rolling countryside and natural materials used throughout.
From the Balearics and Canaries to the mainland, eco travel is flourishing across Spain to help counter the effects of overtourism and protect the country’s increasingly arid landscapes – and it goes beyond sustainable hotel design.
In Majorca, family-run Ecocirer, in the village of Soller, has upcycled 100 per cent of the furniture used in its six distinctive rooms and serves a plant-based breakfast and dinner of local, seasonal produce.
Hotel Aire de Bardenas, located in the Bardenas Reales National Park in Navarra, was inspired by the region’s semidesert landscapes and built using sustainable materials such as local stone and reclaimed wood.
In fact, windbreakers that protect this low-lying hotel from the area’s famous winds are created from the wooden cases used for Navarras’s famous vegetables, while floor-to-ceiling windows invite the outdoors inside.
To the south, the DistrictHive hotel, set against a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada in Granada, has been recognised as the most sustainable hotel in Spain. Calling itself a ‘colony podtel’, its prototype autonomous pod is completely off-grid, managing its own water, electricity and waste, while offering a wall of windows looking out over sweeping landscapes.
Eco travel isn’t just restricted to Spain’s rural landscapes. On the edge of San Sebastian, overlooking the Miramon forest, Arima Hotel combines Scandi style with impressive eco credentials and is one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Its stacked blocks are covered in aluminium, which can slide into place to block the sun and regulate temperature while interiors of natural wood create a neutral colour palette and picture windows make the views the star of the show.
This is a Passivhaus, a German construction quality standard that consumer 70 per cent less energy than traditional hotels, even with its spa and rooftop pool.
All-inclusive travel is making a comeback, but it’s no longer about all-you-can-eat buffets and basic rooms. Ikos Resorts has introduced à la carte menus designed by Michelin-star chefs and complimentary Tesla car rental to its repertoire at its Costa del Sol resort, Ikos Andalusia.
Exquisite interiors of soothing neutral tones and lush open spaces, with gardens leading down to the beach, upgrade the family resort experience while the chance to dine at local restaurants included in the price of your stay and complimentary museum passes help families really explore their surrounds.
The concept has been so popular since Ikos Andalusia’s opening in 2021 that Ikos is opening a second luxury resort in Spain – Ikos Porto Petro will welcome guests to Majorca’s rugged coast this summer.
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