Ciudad Real, Spain: Weekend Getaway
Ciudad Real is located approximately 115 miles south of Madrid and is accessible in less than an hour from Madrid’s Atocha train station via the high-speed train Alta Velocidad Espanola (AVE). A small city of about 75,000 people, Ciudad Real is located in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha which conjures up thoughts of windmills and Don Quixote. This is the area made famous by Miguel de Cervantes more than 400 years ago in his classic Spanish literature.
Generally open from 10:00 – 2:00 and from 5:00 – 8:00 but check the website before visiting because afternoon hours vary depending on the time of year.
* “Quixote” is the original spelling in Castilian Spanish but modern Castilian Spanish often writes “Quijote” because of changes in spelling and phonetic sounds.
20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Ciudad Real and just a few kilometers east of the new “Aeropuerto Don Quijote” is the Palacio de la Serna: a unique hotel that is both a hotel and a museum. The palace was built at the end of the 18th century but could not be defended adequately so the property was turned into a farm and a town hall before being purchased, renovated, and turned into a hotel 15 years ago.
With 30 rooms and suites, the hotel is reminiscent of colonial architecture where the rooms are built around open courtyards, gardens, and walkways. Surprisingly, the gardens and open areas are filled with modern art. The large staircase sculpture (pictured below) outside is a kid magnet as is the garden with the multicolored chairs organized in a tight seating arrangement. There is also a huge art sculpture that my daughter mistook for a bounce house from afar only to be disappointed up close.
Advertised as a 5-star hotel, the Palacio de la Serna is a nice hotel with large rooms, a pool, beautiful art to admire, and a restaurant but 4 stars would more accurately describe this unique property because there are some quirks (i.e. hot water runs out and they don’t quite have the service down). Dogs are welcome, which was a big added plus for us and because of the hotel’s location in the countryside, there are rolling hills and quiet roads to take long walks.
The Palacio de la Serna is a place in the country to get away to. The surroundings are conducive to relaxing, sitting by the pool, reading, and exploring the countryside or if the spirit moves you drive or take a taxi to Ciudad Real, 12 miles north. There are two tourist offices in Ciudad Real – one at the train station:
and, the other in the center of town:
But, if you start seeing windmills as giants, don’t attack…hightail it back to Madrid because this is Don Quixote country.
Rooms start at 120 Euros ($160) and up. Check the website listed below for specials.