31 Gran Vía de Colón
Tel: 34 958 805 740
High-design values have been applied to the restoration of this Renaissance convent built around a large cloister with two stories of arcades, located on the city's main drag. Modern minimalist furnishings are set against ancient brick arches and plaster walls painted in deep, warm colors like burnt orange. The 75 rooms are split between the restored convent and the main building. The Restaurant El Claustro, in the former convent library, serves a breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner. Dishes are traditional Spanish, such as baked hake with mushrooms, green beans and potato puree or trevelez ham and beans. In a refreshing change from the annoying nickel-and-diming you find at most hotels these days, the minibars in the AC Palacio's rooms are entirely free of charge, as is the coffee shop downstairs.
6 Calle Cobertizo de Santa Inés
Tel: 34 958 227 652
Perfectly positioned just a few steps from the Albaicín's main riverside thoroughfare, this small hotel was built as a family home by owner Lorena Padilla Torres's Arab ancestors in the 16th century. It was restored ten years ago but retains its original charm, with heirloom furniture and a few family photos thrown in for good measure. The six individual, cozy bedrooms—some of them a bit heavy on the chintz—have traditional tiled bathrooms. Our favorite is the Alhambra suite, which is large, light-filled, and done up in pale tones. It also has original wooden shutters that perfectly frame the lovely view of Nasrid Palace (if you can't get the room, at least you can get the same outlook from the hotel terrace). This place is all old-style elegance; grab a book from the well-stocked library and settle into one of the comfy sofas in the plant-filled patio, or have a cup of tea in the garden, where there's also a plunge pool (unusual in these parts). It's probably not the place for you if you can't survive without a TV in your room, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything equal to the warm welcome and friendly staff at double the price.
6 Cuesta Aceituneros
Tel: 34 958 215 260
This hotel is a fine restoration of a Morisco-era house (Morisco was the name given to Muslims who stayed on after the conquest). It's like having your own Renaissance homefor under $150 a nightin the chic location of Albaicín, close to the Plaza Nueva and a five-minute walk from the cathedral and Capilla Real. The 17 feminine roomsarranged off the open hallways of a three-tiered courtyardhave stone-tiled floors and dark wood-beamed ceilings, rose or yellow walls, iron bedsteads, and cool white linen.
9 Cuesta de la Victoria
Tel: 34 958 221 100
Many of the Albaicín's traditional dwellings are being turned into boutique hotels, but Casa Morisca—a late-15th-century house with a lovely courtyard at the foot of the Alhambra hill—wins hands down for location alone. Most rooms overlook the Alhambra and the Generalife gardens, which are particularly wondrous at night. Some of the 14 rooms have their original Moorish wooden ceilings, cut with intricate designs, as well as terrazzo floors and Moroccan cabinets or armoires. In case you were wondering, the hotel's name is linked to Morisco, the name given to Muslims who stayed on after the Catholic Monarchs conquered Granada.
1 Solarillo de Gracia
Tel: 34 958 53 57 90
This winsome turn-of-the-century villa with a contemporary annex is for those seeking a departure from Alhambra aesthetics. The signature of the rooms in the boldly designed annexmore fun than the retro ones in the villais oversized marble sinks and tubs. The restaurant, Senzone, is the best table in town, its rack of suckling pig not to be missed. The center city location can be a little noisy, but after a long day's touring, it's a treat to take a dip in the indoor pool, steep in the sauna, or unwind in the gardens. What's really memorable at this 42-room newcomer is the fun, sincere staff.
1 Plaza Arquitecto García de Paredes
Tel: 34 958 221 468
First opened in 1910, this pink monolith of a faux-Moorish palace on Alhambra hill (the fortress is a mere five minutes away) is still a good luxury option—especially for connoisseurs of full-on Arabian kitsch. Think lots of tile work, battlements on the roof, a dome, and a mini-minaret and a terrace looking out over the city. The hotel's age—approaching a century now—doesn't show in the 115 rooms and 11 suites: Most are bright and airy, with rich colors saturating the walls, curtains, and bedspreads. Junior suites offer king beds and an upgrade on the amenities, but if you need to keep in budget, ask for one of the standards with a balcony. The restaurant serves upscale cuisine (duck in orange sauce and dried fruit stew, veal filled with foie-gras).
Real de la Alhambra
Tel: 34 958 22 1440
Among Spain's state-run network of hotels, this parador in Granada ranks high on the list of the most spectacular, installed in a 15th-century convent that's actually within the grounds of the Alhambra. With arcaded cloisters and immaculate gardens as elaborate as those of the Alhambra palace and Generalife, it's no wonder this is also among the priciest paradores in Spain. The 35 rooms have modern comforts such as TVs and high-speed Internet but retain a Renaissance-style decordark wood furnishings carved with arabesque designs. There's a Moorish-style coffered ceiling over the dining room, where Granadino specialties are served (tortilla Sacromonte, Granada beans with Trevélez ham, and Andalusian gazpacho soup). This place is deservedly popular, so book well in advanceand ask for a room in the old wing, as those in the brick annex are more modern and lack that old-world panache.