Parador de Guadalupe – 15th century hospice and 16th century palace buildings (4*)
The lovely Parador de Guadalupe is built in the centre of the town on the site of the palace, a grammar school and the Hospice of St John the Baptist - a 15th-century building where pilgrims could stay when visiting the next-door Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, for four centuries Spain’s most important monastery, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With its arches, courtyard, white-washed walls and pantiled roof, the Parador de Guadalupe, (also named after Zurbarán, the famous 17th-century painter who decorated the adjacent baroque sacristy) provides an atmosphere of peace and simplicity, and particularly noteworthy are the colourful cloister terrace, the beautiful garden and the secluded outdoor swimming pool. The style of the Parador is generally rustic, with many ornate touches of style and colour, and whitewashed walls almost throughout.
You can enjoy a drink in the Mudejar-style courtyard here under the manicured lemon and orange trees, and take in the gorgeous architecture and style of the reworking of the original buildings. Or sit out on the terrace and enjoy the fountains and colourful gardens, and the panorama of terracotta-coloured rooftops and stone turrets beyond. Gaze at the impressive wooden ceilings of some of the passageways and halls, take in the decorated fireplaces and consider the ornateness and intricacy of the wall decoration and sweeping archways.
The bedrooms charmingly retain the original ambience of the hospice and palace buildings, some of the standard rooms having a small mezzanine section with a desk or armchair, and the majority have traditional wooden shutters in keeping with the age of the building.
The swimming pool and terrace are open for use during the peak summer months, offering welcome relief from the midday heat and reward for a day’s walking or sightseeing.
Succulent local dishes on offer in the bright, rustic restaurant include Ajoblanco (a soup made from garlic, bread and egg), Bacalao Monacal (salt cod cooked with potato and spinach) and Tarta de queso de la Serena (a kind of cheesecake).