Parador of Santa Catalina
The Parador sits majestically above the city of Jaen. Visible for miles (or kilometres) is culminating in a 3-km climb among a pine-covered, squirrel-run escarpment.
Flags welcome you to the ample car park with far-reaching views. Enter the fortress style hotel with its sober décor, narrow ill-lit corridors and high windows and there is no doubt that it’s a fortress you’re in. Stylishly in keeping the whole sober décor with its gentle colour tones works well, suit of armour included. Try coffee in the huge drawing room under the massive gothic vaulted ceiling, it’s slightly but luxuriously intimidating.
Dark wooden windows, shutters and doors of great thickness add to the amazing awesome feeling of being a little behind the times.
The impeccable if a little fussy service brings you back to the present day, great facilities too, although Internet service hasn’t reached this parador, yet.
The bar and restaurant are open to non-residents and with the ample conference facilities means a lot of people milling around and give it quite a fast paced feel.
A walk past the hotel brings you to a huge white cross and incredible views of the city its cathedral of monstrous proportions and the inevitable groves of olives disappearing into the distance.
The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable again with plush soft-coloured furnishings. There are 45 rooms, eight of which are singles, an extra bed can be added to most of them and they all have private balconies with glorious views of mountains and the city below, a lovely and peaceful situation above the city noise and pollution.
With its central heating and air conditioning, the spectacular views and tranquillity will ensure any time spent here will be memorable. But a stay when you can swim almost in the clouds (if there were any) has to be a bonus, although perhaps not in the full summer heat if you want to explore the city below.
The whole experience great views, great restaurant and great weather.
Don’t come for
A break from driving unless you’re content to stay on top of the hill!
Rather expensive, but for both food and atmosphere in the medieval style dining room its worth the treat.
A local favourite Restaurant is El Mirador 7km out of town, with good local fare and lovely views.
For tapas try the 1888 bar El Gorrion, a typical bar almost unchanged since opening with jamons hanging from the ceiling and really good tapas.
My Rating My personal rating system out of 5.