We are (unfortunately) back from 28 days in Spain, focusing primarily on Andalucia. A marvellous trip. We did six nights in Madrid, got the rental car, and spent at least three, though up to five nights in each of these locations: Ubeda, Granada, Ronda, Bolonia (Costa de la Luz, 20km north of Tarifa), Sevilla, Cordoba. ALL the places listed below were very nice, some more so than others, but there wasn't really a bad one in the bunch. In general, we don't spend much time in the hotel - to sleep and have breakfast (if available), so all the amenities aren't very necessary for us. To have all the amenities would cost you a helluva lot more (though poking our heads into the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Sevilla, one could be easily tempted by all the amenities...)
Madrid: The Hotel Plaza Mayor
, which is one square off Plaza Mayor on Plaza Santa Cruz (which remains under construction - underground parking garage - I asked). A nice place, in a great location. We had a small (but adequate) street facing room, and there was no noise. At the time, they were completing renovations on the attached cafe (probably done by now), hence we had to hit the street in the morning for cafe y tostadas. Very reasonable at 10.500pts per night. I might also recommend the service provided by AeroCity for the airport to your hotel shuttle. At 2.200pts for two people, it's efficient and cheaper than a cab.
Ubeda: After wandering around in medieval street hell for 15 minutes trying to find the place, a very nice man jumped in his car and guided us to the Palacio de la Rambla
. If you like staying in a 16th century mansion, the former "country" home of the Marquesa de la Rambla (there's some very nice pictures of her meeting the Pope),completely decorated with furniture from the period (and no, they're not reproductions), I'd highly recommend this place. Small, with only 8 rooms, this was a hotel highlight of the trip. Rosa and her mother make you feel right at home. A remarkable central courtyard with a fine private garden - the place is stunning. Reasonable given the quality at 16.000pts/night.
Ronda: there's something quite remarkable about Ronda, and it goes beyond the stunning vista provided by "El Tajo". At night (when all the tourists leave), the town comes to life with a vibrancy that isn't present until the dinner hour passes (10-11pm). We stayed at the Alavera de los Banos
, next door to the Arab baths. Ultra relaxing rooms (though no A/C which was a speck problematic - it was 110 degrees F while we were in Ronda), a great pool and a patio overlooking the valley with sheep grazing in the pastures. The food here (with some kind of Middle Eastern/ North African influence) was all organically grown, and tremendously good - I'd dare say one of the culinary highlights of the trip. Even if you don't stay here, I'd recommend the dangerous walk down the hill (we're still both trying to imagine walking or driving around Ronda after a nice rain, those mirror-like cobblestones must be fun) just to try the food. The room with breakfast (and one hell of a breakfast I might add) was 9.000pts. They have maybe 12-15 rooms in the place of varying size. I think we were in a smaller to medium sized room.
Granada: We stayed at the Hotel Guadalupe
, accross from the entrance to the Alhambra, up on the hill. A touristy kind of place, with a very big buffet breakfast. Very convenient as far as visiting the Alhambra, but a pain for seeing the rest of this magnificent city. You will walk up and down the hill exactly one time, after which you will gladly pay the 130ptas for the bus which makes a continuous loop up and down the hill (and connects you to the rest of the city). The beds were kind of hard, the lobby bar closed too early, and the water pressure was great. And the "rosemary women" were out on the street from sunrise to sunset continuously accosting the unsuspecting traveller with sprigs and linens. But, the room was clean, had a nice view of the Generalife and was very reasonable at around 9.250ptas per night. You could probably do better, but you could also do considerably worse. We, by the way, spent four nights in Granada and felt we could have spent several more. Lots to see and do, and thanks to the university crowd, a great nightlife with lots of good bars and great music.
Bolonia: is located on the windy Atlantic coast, about 20km north of Tarifa, and is a small hamlet of about 500 people (maybe). The ruins of the Roman city of Baleo Claudia are right there. Probably the most idyllic, beautiful beach I have ever been to - long and even, with a huge dune rising up on the northern end, bordered with small pine trees that lead up to a rocky point. It it quite windy here, but it keeps the days cool, and makes the night somewhat chilly. Laying on the beach is peculiar (and dangerous) since you never quite feel the intensity of the sun, and the wind makes it feel like you'd never want to go in the water (which is perfect once you actually get in). We stayed at the family run Hostal Los Jerezanos. About 20 rooms, right off the beach, with a bar and restaurant attached. This was a very untouristy place to stay. Aside from a German couple, we were the only non-Spaniards staying in the place. We had a great room with a private patio facing the ocean. The place is run as media pension, meaning breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room. For 12.000pts per night for two people (cheaper if you don't want the room with a view), this was a good deal, since in such a small town, your choices were limited in where you were going to eat anyway. We took a day trip up the coast to Zahara de los Atunes (which we both hated - dirty, seedy and tourist ridden) and Vejer de la Frontera (a terrifying drive up and down), but a majestically situated "white town".
Sevilla: we stayed at the spotless Hotel Zaida
, right in the center (El Arenal). Nothing spectacular, and no breakfast (but who cares with so many cafes right in the area) and cheap at 8.000ptas. A very nice staff. The only drawback was having a car and double parking on the narrow streets to load and unload (plus putting it in a garage for the duration (the hotel gives you a 25% discount on the garage though)). We both want to return to Sevilla for Semana Santa and Feria - it must be something to see.
Cordoba - we stayed at the hotel Los Omeyas, right next to the Mezquita. As with the above, a no nonsense kind of place, with a nice staff, and their own private (cheap) parking garage. Conveniently located, with a good breakfast (the older man who runs the place makes a killer cafe con leche). At 8.500ptas, we had no complaints.
If you'd like more info on any of the places (or towns), I'd be happy to oblige. Hope you enjoy Spain as much as we did.
Thanks again to MM and this forum for helping us so much on the planning phase for our trip. This board is an invaluable resource.
[ 07-31-2001: Message edited by: MadridMan ]