Sleepover: Hospederia del Real Monasterio
A bed for the night in Spain
Sunday 30 May 2004
In Guadalupe, a Spanish village hidden away in the southern Altamira hills of Extremadura, about three hours' drive from Madrid. The Hospederia occupies a 16th-century cloister in Spain's Royal Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded in 1340 by King Alfonso XI after a cedarwood likeness of the Virgin was discovered at the nearby river. Home to Extremadura's patron saint, who is also Queen of all Spain's lands, Real Monasterio is a lavish monastery, fortress-like with crenellated towers and colourfully tiled spires. The Hospederia has a two-tiered courtyard with gothic arches.
Only a corridor away from your room is the heart of the monastery with its wealth of fine art and history. Outside are Guadalupe's ancient lanes of whitewashed houses and the remains of stone gateways opening on to wooded hillsides.
The comfort factor
Forget spartan monasticism. This two-star hotel cossets its guests. Palatial bedrooms are furnished in period style, with parquet floors, high ceilings and thick curtains over gothic windows are complemented by air-conditioning.
Wonderfully spacious, elegantly tiled and supplied with a basket of toiletries. All are en-suite.
The food and drink
There's a cosy bar and an excellent restaurant where enormous helpings are served. A starter of Extremadura's jamon Iberico de bellota (ham from pigs fed on acorns) will set you back £11, but you may not have room then for the delicious caldereta de cabrito (goat stew) or cordero asado a la miel (roast lamb in honey).
The Franciscan Order runs the monastery, but you're unlikely to see monks in robes here. The guests tend towards the smartly dressed, and the staff are experts in hotel management and Spanish hospitality.
Take a guided tour of the Real Monasterio to find out about its magnificent architecture and admire paintings by Goya, El Greco and a series by Zurbaran commissioned for the sacristy, illuminated hymnals and the image of the Virgin
Some rooms are fitted for wheelchairs. There is a lift.
Double rooms are a bargain from €57 (£38) per night. Breakfast costs €6 (£4). Half and full board are available.
Hospederia del Real Monasterio, Plaza de Juan Carlos I, 10140 Guadalupe, Spain (00 34 927 367 000; www.monasterioguadalupe.com).
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