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Room Report: Parador Alcala de Henares Madrid, Spain

Parador Alcala de Henares guest room
Parador Alcala de Henares guest room
Parador Alcala de Henares

Arrival Experience: This parador hotel sits on the outskirts of Madrid in the quaint town of Alcala de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. It is convenient for those transiting Madrid airport and looking for an easy-access place to stay, but wishing to avoid downtown traffic and dull airport lodgings. While most may think that a parador is traditionally small, this modern hotel is quite the opposite. It is as modern as a W Hotel in the United States, but still preserves authentic Spanish charm. Part of the hotel is housed in an old convent after all! The city is a college town and exhibits a youthful spirit, which is found in the friendly and welcoming staff and surrounding neighborhood.

Dining: The dining room serves lunch and dinner to exquisite precision with a focus on Spanish cuisine that will leave most visitors yearning to try more. The appetizer platter featuring a taste of many Spanish dishes is a must-have, and the hotel's small wine cellar is visible via glass doors from the restaurant. Breakfast is worth it simply to see the beautiful, pumpkin-shaped orange globe lamps suspended from the ceiling. For a hotel, the buffet is ample featuring cava, white wine, and plentiful juices. The spread continues with Spanish favorites like Iberico ham, tortilla Espanola (a type of potato quiche), numerous hot dishes, and fresh fruit and yogurt. There are even a few to-go sandwich and snack items, which are appreciated by business travelers in a hurry. Room service is always an option for those that prefer to sleep late.

Accommodations: Guest rooms are cleverly designed with hard wood floors and wall accents. Large windows mostly face the interior gardens, and electronic shades provide privacy lest one wants to entertain their neighbors. Firm mattresses are topped with duvets and overstuffed pillows leading to a restful slumber, and bedside electrical outlets are convenient for today's traveler. Desks are compact, but provide enough space for the phone and a laptop to make use of the free wireless Internet signal. Flat-screen cable TVs are mounted on the walls, and cushy seating areas provide an alternative to dozing in bed if one is truly jetlagged. Most surprising of all is the size of the walk-in closets, something one would never find in a former convent. To be fair, the hotel has both an older and newer section, but modern-day nuns will find plentiful space in all. Bathrooms have marble showers with perhaps the strongest water pressure in Madrid. Soaking tubs are also an option for a nice long bubble bath by the garden-facing windows.

Conclusion: This hotel is known for its spa, which features a deluxe hydrotherapy circuit that commands two relaxing hours for the best results. Just remember to bring slippers as they are required for the hydrotherapy experience although they can be purchased at the hotel. Those arriving from overseas flights will find this to be the ideal way to get over jetlag. Massages and beauty treatments are also on offer. Meeting space is a big draw for the hotel, and numerous business and social functions make this their ideal gathering spot. With ample parking and a convenient, traffic-free location, it is a great alternative to downtown Madrid hotels. In addition to boardroom and ballroom setups, many groups opt to host events in the outdoor patios (especially for receptions). There is no gym, and guest rooms do not stock free bottled water. However, those looking for aquatic diversion will be entertained with the outdoor swimming pool ringed with lounge chairs. It is said that this is the best spot to capture the hotel's free wireless Internet signal. For a blend of history with contemporary décor, this parador suits all types of travelers, at the right price.