Parador Spain: The Experience
Having had a great time at another 9 Century Castle turned Parador recently, we decided to repeat the experience and enjoy our rather rainy weekend in Extremadura with a stay at a XV century Gothic style monastery-turned hotel.
Paradores was the initiative of Spain’s King Alfonso XIII. Created as a means to promote tourism in Spain, it allows common folk to experience the bygone eras of a noble lifestyle, while of course making a profit.
And why not? There are, after all, over 2500 castles in Spain today.
At Parador de Plasencia, you’re in for some spectacular time travel in one of Spain’s historic structures! From ancient fortress to Jewish synagogue, to Gothic monastery, to modern days luxury hotel Parador.
A Time Travel sleepover: Parador De Plasencia
Going up the orange-tree lined stairs that frame the old building feels like stepping into a late middle ages movie setting.
The hotel is located in the convent of Santo Domingo, built in the fifteenth century. Thick stone walls, vaulted ceilings, and a carefully decorated interior await you in Gothic style.
The hotel is the ideal place to get to know the city and the natural landscapes that surround it.
This is a place of culture and reverence for the people of Plasencia, with some of the most beautiful illuminated Spanish manuscripts of the XV century created at the monastery.
Rooms & Restaurant
The rooms were rather spacious, decorated in a simple but tasteful style, with the highlight being the old writing desk packed with books. A room for book lovers, yes, please! If you go in ‘high season’ – like we did for the cherry tree festival – a night in this Parador doesn’t come cheap, so you’ll probably be doing speed reading – if any.
There’s a sitting area in the room as well, with either a table or a couch.
Staying at a Parador will guarantee a full experience, including the food. We ate at the Especia Restaurant both evenings, and I’ll tell you this: unless you’re extremely hungry, don’t go for the menu.
The menu comes at a fixed price of 35 eur, and however delicious, the portions were Gargantuan.
Starters are as big as a main, the mains are huge, and so are some of the desserts (2 pieces of cheesecake?!)
You might as well get a plate of cheeses to share, with one of the starters as your main (the ravioli, for example, were delicious) – and you’re guaranteed to leave with a full belly.
Oh, and go for the caramel biscuit dessert! (Skip the tiramisu – although it came with a scoop of ice cream, the cake itself was nothing to write home about.)
The Lounge Bar
Possibly the highlight of this Parador is the underground lounge bar.
Admire the elegantly lit columns that support the arched ceiling while lounging like royalty on the cozy sofas, a digestive in hand.
Drinks are mid-range, and the staff is nice and accommodating. However, I wasn’t too impressed by my Hendricks gin tonic, which came with lime #ginsnob
The bar is open from 10.30 PM to 2 PM. Note that the lounge bar is closed on Sundays.
The Flying Staircase
The staircase flown from the Parador is one of the most beautiful in Spain. Built in granite in the late 1500’s, it is supported on irregular and unequal arches.
You’ll find the staircase within the other bar located in the Parador.
In & Around Plasencia
Besides the Parador, Plasencia is an excellent spot to set up base if you want to visit Valle del Jerte in spring when the cherry blossoms tint the valley of a snow white, Or, if you’re a bird lover, enjoy a birdwatchers paradise at the Monfragüe National Park, with its significant variety of birds, waterfalls, and meanders.
We do have to give credit to the city of Plasencia as well. The 15-century Old Romanesque Cathedral, and the New Gothic and Renaissance Cathedral, is quite unlike any other cathedrals I’ve seen so far.
This cathedral will require your full interest, so don’t visit if you’re just bored: prepare for a full hour to properly admire the sheer richness of details on the new cathedral’s organ, altarpiece or choir chairs sculpted in wood.
No matter when you’re visiting Plasencia, a trip to Jerte Valley’s cherries will always make you happy: whether you’re seeing the flowering trees in spring, the cherry picking season in June, or you admire the valley’s fiery colors in autumn – the local’s favorite season!