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Hotel Santa Isabel la Real, Granada

2 Oct

We had some guests staying last week and they decided that as Granada is only a three hour drive away, that they had to go and visit the Alhambra.  I always encourage people to go there – it is one of my favourite places in the world and in fact those of you who come here for longer than a week, it really is lovely to do a little overnight trip somewhere else. Granada is an enchanting place and definitely worth the effort.

We go reasonably often and on one of our trips we went with an old school friend, Di, and her husband Pete who now live in Perth.  They researched our little three day trip and came up with the most gorgeous place to stay in the old town, Santa Isabella Real.

It was, it has to be said, a tiny bit tricky to find, but once you head for the old town and have a map, actually it is not too bad.

The hotel is, like a lot of smaller hotels inSpain, set around a central courtyard.  It is very simple, but absolutely gorgeous.  The rooms are fairly small, but beautiful, beds are luxurious as are the bathrooms and there is a lovely sitting room downstairs, and a breakfast room.  There is not bar in the hotel but frankly, when you are in Granada where there are hundreds of places for a pre-dinner drink or a late nightcap, it really doesn’t matter.

I would really recommend this charming hotel – it is not budget prices, but nor is it hideously expensive either and if you go in summer, the rates are really reasonable as all the Spaniards head for the coast. Breakfast is also included in the room rate, uncommon here for some reason; it is a relaxed affair and there is plenty to choose from.

Check out the website, www.hotelsantaisabellareal.com if you are planning a trip here.

Santa Isabel la Real Hotel, Granada telephone number is 958 294 658

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The Alhambra, Granada

1 Oct

If you ever holiday in Spain, either here or elsewhere in Andalucia, I urge you to take time to go to Granada and more specifically, the Alhambra.  If you do come here, it is an easy and gorgeous drive through the Sierra Nevada, though it takes 3 hours and so an overnight stay is recommended.  Hotels are plentiful and you don’t have to spend a fortune (although my standard of never staying anywhere less nice than my own home means that a number of hotels all over the world are out as far as I am concerned!).  But luckily not everyone is like me.  The last time we went (this summer with friends Di and Pete from Perth, Australia) we stayed in the old town in a beautiful small hotel, Santa Isabel La Real.  All the rooms were set around a courtyard with a fountain, and were situated in a higgledy piggledy part of the old town, virtually overlooking the Alhambra.  Di (who luckily is even worse than me!) spent a lot of time researching somewhere lovely to stay and it was sheer bliss to be taken off for the weekend by our dear friends.

Old Granada town

The Alhambra (which means the Red Fortress) is quite simply one of my favourite places to visit in the world – it is a sensory overload if you arrive in the spring – the rose gardens waft their perfume as you wander through at your leisure; the gardens go on and on and give you inspiration to get back and mow your own lawn (or in my case, plant some more cactus).  The Moorish architecture is a magical use of space, light, water and decoration and although the fortress had existed since the 9th century, it was the Nasrid Dynasty who started restoration in the 13th Century and leave this most amazing fortress for us to see now. For full facts click here

Inside the palaces

This is a great clip for a mini tour and you can improve your Spanish.

Granada is easy to get around – this time we pretty much stuck to the old town and just ate and drank our way through the narrow, romantic streets.  On the second night, we spotted a rather fantastic looking restaurant and booked a table.  It turned out to have a terrace where we dined with the best view of the Alhambra lit up at night – the view you see on every night shot on postcards so that was the icing on the cake.

The cool interior of the Alhambra

There isn’t really an “out of season” when you visit the Alhambra.  As you might imagine, it has visitors from all over the world at all times of the year (I think they are closed in the depths of winter so check it out) – in the height of the summer, the hotels are cheap (everyone is at the coast!) and restaurants available – I have been 6 times, in Spring and Summer and never tire of the Alhambra – so go at anytime, but make sure you do go.