For somewhere we think we know so well, Spain always finds a new way to surprise. Perhaps it’s the chance to stay in a medieval castle, a trip aboard one of the world’s most luxurious trains or a Renaissance palace hidden among a thousand-year-old fort. Whatever it is, Spain excites.
That’s without even mentioning the bits that we love so well. Of course, you can’t talk of Spain and not turn to its culinary riches, whether you’re indulging with perfectly cured jamón ibérico ham in a vibrant tapas bar or treating yourself to a seafood paella in a Michelin-starred restaurant. It’s all washed down with some of Europe’s finest wines, best sampled with a vineyard tasting.
However, food is just one expression of Spanish culture. From flamenco dances and Picasso’s masterpieces to Gaudí’s whimsies and the contemporary classics of Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum, a sense of creativity and deeply held passion seems to pervade everything here. It’s all predicated by a rich history of innovation. Although the Spanish city greats impress with the likes of sublime Gothic quarters, it’s perhaps best felt down south in Andalucia. Here, medieval severity, Renaissance grandeur and millennium-old Moorish exoticism plays out over palace-fortresses and mosque-cathedrals.
However, there’s plenty of humble charm to Spain. Santiago’s world-wonder cathedral and San Sebastián look-at-me Belle Epoque aside, northern Spain is blessed with sleepy fishing villages interspersed by quiet beaches. Then, if you look further afield to the Canary Islands, you’ll discover that Tenerife is much more than golden sands and year-round sun. For details, see the special experiences section below.
Sometimes it can be the simplest of things that can be the most special. That could be a walk on a secluded Basque-country beach, just-caught calamari served in a bustling pintxo bar or a glass of red on a rooftop bar in Barcelona. Whatever your tastes, our destination experts will be able to point you in the right direction, having travelled and even lived across Spain.
We also organise plenty of unique extras. In Tenerife, for example, you can expect to toast whale sightings with a glass of fizz and enjoy some of the world’s finest stargazing over dinner with a professional astronomer. Then, back on the mainland, why not bring the world wonders of Andalucia to life with a private guide and taste your way through the country’s finest vineyards in the company of a sommelier. Or, explore the charms of northern Spain with a luxury train journey.
Spain is blessed with some truly unique accommodation, with the paradors perhaps the most interesting. This network of luxury hotels has been converted from some of the country’s most important heritage sites, offering the chance to stay everywhere from Moorish fortresses and Renaissance places to 12th-century castles and thousand-year-old monasteries. Of course, our Spain specialists will also be able to point you in the direction of the best city slickers, spa get-aways and even one of the world’s most iconic trains. Then, over in the Canaries, Tenerife is enjoying something of a renaissance. Here, a smattering of properties pair the island’s golden sands and year-round sun with the best in luxury.
Hospes Palacio de los Patos, Granada
This 19th-century palace is an Asset of Cultural Interest, today host to an ultra-contemporary spa and fine-dining restaurant.
Hospes Palacio del Bailío, Córdoba
With a spa aptly built among the ruins of a Roman bath, this superb option invites in all the history of its old-town setting with traditional rooms and indulgent dining.
Hospes Las Casas del Rey de Baeza, Seville
Old meets new, with this 18th-century courtyard property host to the likes of a rooftop pool, an innovative restaurant and a range of contemporary spa treatments.
Bahía del Duque, Tenerife
Showcase Tenerife at its luxurious best, with a private beach club, spa indulgences and Michelin-standard dining.
Hotel Botanico, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
The Canary Islands' first five-star accommodation continues to impress with everything from marbled rooms and a world-class spa to fine-dining restaurants and a full range of luxury amenities.
La Residencia, Mallorca
This historic Mallorcan manor house is a lesson in luxurious relaxation, complete with fine dining, spa treatments and poolside cocktails.
El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo
Travel on one of the world's finest trains to enjoy vintage luxury at its best, from live bar-car music to indulgent mulit-course dining.
Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, La Rioja
Frank Gehry’s foray into hotel design is a real Rioja destination, striking an epic figure against the legendary vineyards. Hotel Marques de Riscal, dripping in sumptuous details, from Bang & Olufsen speakers to wine-inspired spa therapies.
Anantara Villa Padierna, Marbella
Expect an atmosphere of unpretentious exclusivity as you arrive at this Tuscan-style hotel, which features its own private beach club just a complementary shuttle transfer away.
The essence of luxury travel, this sumptuous five-star hotel is ideally located right in the heart of Barcelona
Gran Hotel Domine, Bilbao
The Domine enjoys the enviable privilege of being the only luxury hotel opposite the Guggenheim Museum – surely the city’s finest address. As such, you’ll have Bilbao’s emblematic arts district on your doorstep.
Hacienda de San Rafael, Seville
A family-run olive mill set in five acres of grounds with just 14 rooms, the vibe is romantic, laid back, discreet and luxurious.
Coral del Rey, Seville
Hidden in the winding alleyways of historic Seville, a stylish retreat, well placed to explore the city
Al Ándalus Luxury Train
The epitome of romantic travel; Belle Epoque charm mingles with the comfort of the modern age, transporting you through the wonderful scenery of Spain and Portugal.
As the second-largest country in western Europe, Spain’s climate is varied. For the south, you should look to the shoulder seasons that sandwich the scorching summers, although spring-like winters make off-season travel more than viable. Then, it’s a sliding scale as you travel north, as winters become more pronounced and summers, while still hot, become more temperate. Again, the prevailing advice is to consider travelling either side of the summer to avoid peak temperatures and crowds. Lastly, over in the Canary Islands, you’ll be able to expect year-round sun.
Andalucia: a luxury road trip
6 days from £1,475 pp incl. flights
Knit together the world wonders of Andalucia with scenic drives, luxury palace stays and private tours included throughout.
Northern Spain by luxury train: El Transcantábrico Gran Lujo
10 days from £7,765 pp incl. flights
Travel the length of Spain’s northern coast in utter luxury, enjoying wine-paired dining, nights in some of the world’s largest train suites and tours that range from spa visits to walks though quiet fishing villages.
A taste of Rioja
9 days from £1,475 pp
From the Guggenheim Museum to the wine estates of Rioja, this no-fly holiday takes in the very best of northern Spain's culture and cuisine. You'll also enjoy stays in some of the region's finest Parador hotels.