As a couple, on your own, or with friends – an important question when travelling

Although it may seem that the first firm step towards shaping our long-awaited Easter holidays might be to speak to ‘the boss’ to let them know about our future temporary absence, the fact is that the crucial step comes when it’s time to ask yourself the following question: How do I want to travel… as a couple, on my own, or with friends?

Even if travelling alone is an experience that more and more people opt for, there are travellers who feel that nothing compares to a couple of relaxing days with friends. Then, of course, there are the lovebirds who always want to go on holiday as a couple.

But what happens if we reach that point where we can’t decide what option we want to go for? At Trips & Hotels we have selected 3 Spanish destinations for each of these ways of travelling. We don’t expect to have the final say on the subject (since everyone has to make the decision themselves), but we would like to at least help those who are undecided.

A trip to Madrid with friends

Famous throughout the world, the capital of Spain is one of those destinations that always works no matter how you choose to travel, and (of course) with all the various kinds of travellers we are familiar with.

Madrid is a city to visit with friends and what better way to start a conversation than enjoying one of the many musicals or plays on offer? What could be better than having a good time eating a wedge of potato omelette, drinking craft beer?

Given that the city is quite large and the goal is to take advantage of the capital to the max, the best solution is to go for a central accommodation option – such as the hotel Gran Via Madrid – helping you to be mere steps from such highly-recommended places as Puerta del Sol, the Retiro Park, Gran Vía and the Plaza Mayor.

Destination? Tenerife as a couple

At Trips & Hotels we are very much fans of the Atlantic breeze. It’s charming, different, refreshing and highly romantic (yes, even more so than the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean). With waves of intense blue and intense passion, it couldn’t be a more obvious choice: for a couple’s getaway there’s nothing better than opting for the island Tenerife, part of the Canary Islands.

Choose a hotel in southern Tenerife to enjoy your Easter holidays with your partner, to choose relaxation but also that Canarian magic: evenings filled with the scent of the sea and a charming culture that makes us fall in love (at least that’s what it does to us).

A singular destination on the island of Ibiza

If there is one destination in Spain that’s perfect for those who prefer to travel on their own, it’s definitely the island of Ibiza.

A hippie spirit and a mindset that’s completely open appeals to all travellers who dare to travel around the world in the company of their backpack, the white island hides treasure that will make the single traveller feel right at home. The best? Choose a hotel in Santa Eulalia, Ibiza and create your own routes throughout the entire island.

The most traditional natural magic of Madrid

Authentic by nature and historical by tradition, that’s Madrid. A capital that oozes style and culture and is home to many places where time seems to stop … Places that are a hundred percent Madrid in which you can breathe in the local essence that attracts thousands of travelers.

Although there are lots of visitors who seem to stick with the tourist areas of the capital (such as Retiro Park, the crowded Plaza Mayor and Gran Via), Madrid is much more than a museum, a large avenue or a total entertainment program. How can you discover the authentic, traditional side of Madrid? That is easy, just opt for these alternative visits to the true Madrid, which still bears the natural magic of the past.

Chamberí, Madrid

Chamberí, Madrid

Wander through the streets of Chamberí

Part of the essence of Madrid lies in Chamberí, a neighborhood which breathes the past but is all that is good in the present. With its iron balconies, its tiny streets and a calm and quiet that you don’t find everywhere in Madrid, Chamberí is home to unique places and iconic sights such as the Sala Galileo Galilei the Luchanas Theater or the Olavide Square with its many tapas and beer bars.

Literary Madrid

As much as Madrid was in the past, it is now and it will continue to be the place of residence of the most important writers in our country. Writers of the stature of Cervantes (who lived his last years in Madrid), Calderon de la Barca or Quevedo who viewed the city as a source of supreme inspiration and a unique place in which to unleash his literary talent. What would be your perfect program? Visit some of the places that are part of this legacy such as the Calle del Prado and Plaza Santa Ana.

Where to stay in Madrid

As expected in any big city, our capital Madrid has a very large range of hotels to suit all tastes and for all types of customers (singles, couples, groups of friends, tourists traveling with animals and so on). Given that choice can start to be complicated, it is best to prioritize what really interests you, whether it is services, location or price.
For those looking for hotels with charm, there is nothing better than choosing hotels like the Petit Palace Triball, the Petit Palace Alcala Torre or the Petit Palace Arturo Soria; three full service hotels situated in the historic center of Madrid.

Amazing spots for your next holiday

Almost any place can be amazing on holidays, but if you really want to enjoy the destination and brag about its idyllic corners on Social Networks, here are some useful tips, so you won’t miss the secret spots and you will be the envy of your Facebook and Instagram friends.

Playa de Muro

Sunbathing on a Balinese bed, listening to the waves, drinking a fruity cocktail, smelling the sea breeze and the delicious paella that is being cooked within a few steps,  palm trees, amazing pool…All these and much more in northern Majorca with one of the most beautiful beaches in this idyllic island, Playa de Muro. Recommendation: avoid the crowds and look for a hotel with direct access to the beach like IBEROSTAR Playa de Muro Village or Playa Garden Selection Hotel & Spa.

Aerial view of Playa de Muro; picture: gardenhotels.com

Aerial view of Playa de Muro; picture: gardenhotels.com

Morrojable

Some tapas on the seaside of a charming fishermen town while watching the sunset, having some drinks with friends, having fun, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere…Morrojable is one of the best places to disconnect from the daily routine and enjoy life to the fullest. If you have already booked your hotel in Playa Jandia, you should visit this town, its weekly market and the taverns offering typical Canarian food.  Hotels in the south of Fuerteventura make your stay memorable.

Flecha del Rompido

One of the few unspoiled beaches in Spain, a secret spot where to get lost in summer in the south of Andalusia. This amazing stretch of sandy beach on the seaside is one of the best must-see places in Huelva. You, your beach towel and a great book. What more can you ask for? There are not many hotels in this area, but you can always stay at a high quality Only Adults hotel at affordable prices: Garden Playanatural.

Flecha del Rompido, Huelva. Picture: ctmalagunas.blogspot.com

Flecha del Rompido, Huelva. Picture: ctmalagunas.blogspot.com

Cala Bendinat

Mallorca is full of secret spots, so we must mention another one: a hidden cove on Calvia’s coast, near two of the most glamorous and exclusive areas in the island. We find a small stretch of white sand surrounded by rocks along the sea, offering us multiple relax options.  We can find a luxury accommodation far from the bustle, where you will be treated like a king: new IBEROSTAR Grand Portals Nous. If you want to indulge yourself, visit this amazing hotel.

Madrid’s Gran Via

A paradise in the heart of the city, a magic spot where everything can happen and adventure, emotion and beauty live together. Gran Via reflects the authentic Madrid: multicultural people, original shops and boutiques, art and shows at the streets, roofs from where to admire the city…Nothing compared to Vincci Capitol hotel, built in an emblematic cinema in Madrid, with themed rooms offering you a memorable holiday.

Urban travellers conquering the big capitals

Urban trips have increased in the last years as trip option for many national tourists. The economic crisis in Spain and the impossibility to invest much money in holidays, but the will to discover places, have resulted in trips to more affordable and closer destinations, generally in the same peninsula, so the fight is less expensive, or you can travel by train or by car.

Destinations such as Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Salamanca, Cádiz or Bilbao have seen how their hotels are receiving more and more sporadic travellers in search of an experience where they can enjoy the city, gastronomy, culture and leisure for short stays (2 – 4 days). These urban travellers look for quality at special prices. As the stay time is shorter than holidays in beach destinations, they use to always opt for accommodations with extra services –although they could be more expensive- allowing them not only to rest, but also to make the most of the destination and every minute of their days in the city.

They generally opt for hotels in the centre of Madrid with gastronomic experiences and discounts for shows; charming accommodations in Barcelona, where they can enjoy the spaces, design, modernity (and modernism, of course)… But they also look for other alternatives, beyond these two big and emblematic capitals: hotels in the old town of Seville or accommodations in Salamanca right in Plaza Mayor are the most sought-after, so much that you should book long in advance if you really want to enjoy a good hotel at an affordable price.

Travelling for a couple of days to a any city of Spain is fashionable. Many are the urban travellers that plan many trips during the year, taking advantage of special events such as film seasons, theatre and music festivals, concerts by famous international artists, top level sport competitions… Cultural and leisure plans in the destination are clearly one of the main trip motivations. But they are not always specific events, there are also traditional experiences in every city: vermouth in Madrid on Sunday in the Rastro market; enjoying the university atmosphere in Salamanca; contemplating the nights in Granada; discovering the best flamenco tablao in Seville, the Guggenheim in Bilbao…

In this sense, institutional efforts with private initiatives have worked together to create products and experiences that improve the value of a destination and turn it into a place to visit not one time in the life, but many times. For the moment, there are many interesting projects in many big capitals in Spain. Some of them, have gotten almost immediate results, such as Bilbao, which has turned into in urban tourism reference in the north of Spain, because of its gastronomy, contemporary art, its estuary, nature and adventure tourism in its surroundings or mass events such as the BBK Live Music Festival which this year has filled all the hotels in the centre of Bilbao, campsites and apartments.

If we focus on Palma de Majorca, one of the most developed destinations in terms of tourism, we will see that –despite the economic difficulties of the local administration during these years- this city has significantly changed its tourism services, investing on the old town in order to revitalise neighbourhoods situated near to the centre, but not very visited, offering more attractive cultural plans targeted at both national and foreigners, promoting traditional celebrations and organising or supporting quality events. Palma 365 is a project that becomes stronger and stronger, and it is a model to make tourism less dependent on seasonal factors, especially in this destination which is too related to sun and beach holidays since many decades ago.

Hotel trade is also working in the same vein, not only in the Balearic capital –where we find new top level hotels in the centre of Palma– but in most of the Spanish cities. This is the case of the hotels in Seville, which are investing on combining new technologies with more traditional and typical elements of the city culture. There are also business hotels in emblematic areas of the city and new business ways providing spaces more opened to the general public, such as restaurants in hotels where you can book without needing to stay at the hotel.

Palladium Hotel

Palladium Hotel

This has been applied in hotels in the centre of Madrid since a few years ago. Some of the most renowned ones are the Malevich restaurant of Art Gallery Hotel, El Foro bar restaurant of Lealtad Plaza Hotel –with special service for business dinners- El Invernadero restaurant of Embassy Serrano Hotel or Las Letras Hotel’s restaurant, right in La Gran Vía, led by Paco Morales chef.

A similar system has been taken by hotels in Barcelona of Catalonia Hotels chain, which has some outstanding examples such as Barcelona Plaza Hotel. Most of them offer a clear local and Mediterranean gastronomy tendency, without leaving behind options for all tastes, even with special products for diets and intolerances. In these cases, the recommendation is to directly consult to the hotel before booking.

Cádiz is a party

There are so few places in the world where the party essence is as clear as in Cádiz. This Andalusian province, privileged with the highest number of sunny days in Spain and with unique white sand beaches, is an always-lively place. The city of Cádiz and places such as Chiclana are the most active areas during the year, but all the municipalities and neighbourhoods of this region offer that tireless spirit that makes us always to smile.

Lively, dynamic and talkative, Cádiz is a constant party even in this time of the year.  February, carnival month, is the most important month for the people from Cádiz, who fill every corner with chirigotas, bustle, music and dance.

Iberostar Hotels in Cadiz

Hotels in Cadiz

The deep light which characterizes it and covers its entire Atlantic coast is a treasure in these winter months, when the rest of Europe is plenty of coats and blankets, and the grey colour paints the streets since the morning until the night.

A trip to Cádiz is one of the best plans that any traveler can do in this month of February. Take advantage of the carnival, get a long weekend or a holiday and book a spa hotel in Cádiz or a room in the centre of the city. Prices are really affordable in this time of the year and there is a wide range of options since the most visited areas are still in low season.

Bearing in mind that the municipalities of this province are very close to each other, the best accommodation option, is you are looking for quality and economy, are precisely the coastal areas. There are luxury golf hotels in Chiclana that you can now book at good price, but if you want to enjoy the Carnival ambience of the city, hotels in Cádiz have a wide variety of boards, so you can book Room Only and get very affordable rates.

If you want to make the most of the trip, you must pay attention to the transport. Whether you opt for the centre of Cádiz, Chiclana or San Fernando, renting a car is the perfect option to travel the province and visit so wonderful places such as Calas de Conil or Calas de Roche. Some hotels even offer accommodation + car packages, so you have not to worry about it and usually you get best rates when you book all together.

Top holiday destinations that will be big in 2015

The end of 2014 summer season is not anything else than the opening of 2015 holiday.  The tourist diving force of our country is getting ready for one year more of massive visits to the coasts and the unstoppable growing of the specialized tourism in sports, cultural events and gastronomy.

The Canary Islands, Majorca, Andalusia and even Galicia, Cantabria and the Basque Country are the vertexes of the polyhedron that turns Spain into a world power for enjoying the summer… And, step by step, it is less and less seasonal.   The fetish destinations are still the traditional ones: the islands, the Mediterranean and the Andalusian coast.   Nevertheless, new cities are standing out. This is the case of Salamanca, spring and autumn destination; Bilbao and Cantabria coast; Galicia and the north of Portugal: Toledo, Madrid, Ávila… And, of course, Barcelona and the entire Catalan coast.

The hotels in Tenerife, the big accommodations in Jandia beach, the apartments and bungalows in Playa Blanca or even the classic aparthotels in Benidorm know that 2015 will be a key year for the future.   Hotels are still investing on refurbishing common areas, rooms and renewing the gastronomic offer, although there are many hotel companies wanting to go beyond and integrate resorts and destinations by creating entire complexes where the visitor can enjoy the holiday destination and personalised services.

The first company that tried something like this was Fiesta Hotels and its Ushuaïa model, turning the hotel into an additional attraction of the destination. Melià is intending to do the same with its Sol Wave House and its Calvià Beach Resort. Fergus Hotels with its hotel complex for young people in Magaluf and its boutique hotels in Santa Ponsa.

But if we go out of the islands, we can see how the cities become the centre of attention as main destinations for the first months of 2015: hotels in the centre of Madrid and big accommodations in Barcelona are working hard for offering the best services the next year, since it promises to be very interesting especially for hotels specialized in gastronomy, sports and culture.

Good examples are the hotels next to La Boquería Market in Barcelona or the hotels in Plaza Mayor in Madrid: both offer a perfect symbiosis with the destination, taking advantage of design spaces artistically related to every capital and very close to some of most select leisure and gastronomic options.

Madrid, as tourist destination, is behind Barcelona, but is increasingly winning its battles.   The city centre improvements, with more pedestrian areas, best public transport connections and very complete leisure plans at good price, have significantly increased the bookings of hotels in the centre of Madrid. Travellers, both residents and foreigners want to stay in the heart of the capital, since it has turned into an experience not to be missed.   Now, booking a room in La Gran Via is not an impossible dream anymore, thanks to the competition between 3-4 star accommodations in Madrid, democratizing more and more the hotel offer in this city.

Barcelona is still the more expensive city.  The prices of the hotels in the centre of Barcelona are significantly higher than in Madrid due to the strength of this city as international tourism destination. The most recommended is to choose a 4 star hotel  in Las Ramblas, Ciutat Vella, Plaça de Catalunya or to opt for one of those exclusive hotels next to Plaça de les Glòries, in Poble Nou, Barcelona.

The attraction of Barcelona is, however, undeniable.  Although the cultural and tourism plans are still based on the same pillars, its changes as well as its fame of capital of design keep it as top must visit destination and even as a favourite city for long stays.

Foreigners, especially those who come from the United States and Asia, usually prefer to book an accommodation during several months. Some people travel for a few days, others take advantage of a leave of absence or of the end of school year, to spend some months travelling around Europe. In these cases, the good weather and the guaranties that a city like Barcelona gives you, turns it into one of the favourite ones for camping, among other Italian cities such as Rome, Florence and Milan.

Away from the big capitals but keeping the urban spirit, Bilbao is an unavoidable destination for  2015. Its artistic, gastronomic and industrial dynamism make of this Basque city a destination you must visit again. Or, at least, a place you must visit before you day. In addition to Guggenheim plans, there are new galleries, local crafts centres and, of course, authentic temples of the Basque cuisine. If you want to enjoy the magic of this city, the best option is to book a hotel in the centre of Bilbao, next to the matchless old quarter. Although if you want a more relaxing holiday, you can always opt for booking a room in Guetxo.  Ereaga beach is, for example, a real paradise for gourmets looking for peace and delicious food.

Andorra by bike

Cycling is not only good for exercising the body and mind, but is also a wonderful way of visiting a place and contemplating its landscapes while you pedal. Touring by bicycle has been winning popularity in recent years. Andorra possesses about 200 kilometres of roads, by which we can travel by bicycle while we enjoy the landscapes. 

In the principality, there are 20 cycling climbs with different levels of difficulty, making up 200 kilometres of lovely mountain landscapes. One of the main attractions of Andorra for touring cyclists is precisely the possibility of going across different routes in a same destination, in order to make a different route every day and contemplate different views in each tour.

Some of the most famous routes for cycling in Andorra are Coma de Arcalís or Puerto de Envalira, which have been part of the big events such as the Tour de France or Vuelta a España.

Cycling lovers will also find good reasons for travelling to Andorra, since there are three areas, specially equipped for this discipline, such as Grandvalira Mountain Bike Park, Vallnord Bike Park and the BMX-Four Cross circuit in Arinsal. Additionally, there is also a large number of mountain paths in the Principality, which can be toured by bicycle.

Andorra is a dream for mountain cyclists. There, they can do this exciting sport surrounded by a wonderful environment formed by the mountain and valleys of the principality… Besides, touring cyclists have a good offer of mountain hotels in Andorra, dotted about all over the country, where they can comfortably stay.

Recommended hotels in Andorra:

Estepona, a fishing town

Estepona is a municipality in the province of Malaga, which is becoming over the years a tourist centre of the western part of Costa del Sol. Its wide beaches, its beach-front old quarter, its monuments and its ancient air of fishing town, turn Estepona into a more than recommended spot in the Andalusian coast.

And as in every tourist enclave, we find a series of hotels in Estepona targeted at all types of publics, although  probably the most predominant in Estepona are the family hotels, due to the family atmosphere of this destination.

One of the main places of tourist interests in Estepona are its extensive beaches, which go throughout 21 kilometres of the Malaga coast. Most of them are full equipped with all types of services.

One of its most emblematic beaches is La Rada, located in the centre of the city and next to the promenade where we find restaurants and shops for all tastes. 

La Galera, Bahía Dorada and Punta del Saladillo beaches are also very recommended, being the last mentioned one of the longest beaches in Malaga, with 3 kilometres of dark fine sand. And for those who prefer a nude beach, Costa Natura is the ideal place, one of the first nude beaches in Costa del Sol.

Another of the peculiarities of Estepona is that its old quarter is situated on the beachfront. The irregular and paved street of the old quarter gives this area a very special atmosphere. There are located some of the most outstanding buildings of Estepona, such as The  Church of Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios and La Ermita del Calvario. 

Other monuments are also worth visiting in the old quarter, such as  the walls of the San Luis Castle, the watchtowers, the Clock Tower situated in the square of the same name, or the beautiful Flower Square, decorated with flowers during the whole year.

We also find in the southern part of the municipality the lively marina of Estepona, where all types of sports can be practised, such as sailing or scuba diving.

Best beaches in Huelva

Costa de la Luz goes throughout long beaches between the mouth of the Guadiana river (that borders on Portugal) and the Guadalquivir river. A series of beaches as attractive as different. There you find from beaches equipped with all services and hotels close to the beach in Huelva, to more deserted, and even pristine, areas.

Among the most outstanding beaches in Huelva, you find for example Isla Canela. It is a fishing village in the south of Ayamonte, next to the Spanish bank of the Guadiana river. It is composed of seven kilometres of marshes, dunes, small rivers and sand areas, typical of the Andalusian coast. People seeking accommodation in this area will find a good offer of hotels in Ayamonte near to the beach.

Another important beach is Punta del Moral, a municipal district of Ayamonte situated in Isla Canela. Its main hallmark is being separated from the hotel complexes by a small river. This is the reason why it is one of the less crowded beaches in Huelva and, actually, is almost pristine.

Isla Cristina is a locality in Huelva where ten different beaches are situated, all of them beautiful, with the so characteristic fine white sand of the Huelva coast. Most of them are very comfortable and perfectly equipped. 

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the Islantilla beach which belongs to the Isla Cristina and Lepe municipalities. It has 1.3 kilometres of fine white sand. It possesses some pristine zones and other areas equipped with the necessary services.

Next to it, we find La Antilla beach, which belongs to the Lepe municipality and has an area of 3.5 kilometres. Both the Islantilla and La Antilla beach are characterised for being so wide and having amazing dunes.

Another of the most important beaches in Huelva is Matalascañas. It is a beach with family atmosphere within the municipality of Almonte and borders the Doñana National Park. It goes throughout more than four kilometres of coast. It has a built-up area equipped with all the services, where there are plenty of hotels close to the beach in Matalascañas. Nevertheless, as you go into the Doñana Park, you notice a more deserted and mysterious area.

Matalascañas is probably one of the tourist enclaves with more beach hotels in Huelva. This area is also very famous for its amazing sand dunes range and for the remains of La Higuera Tower that you can still see in the seashore.

Travelling with children to Matalascañas

Travelling with children could be a real odyssey. This is why, before choosing a destination, you must bear in mind some basic things, such as the accommodation, services it offers and typical characteristics, to know if it is a comfortable place for travelling with family.

Matalascañas is a perfect destination for travelling with children thanks to its many attributes. First of all, it is one of the most important tourist complexes of the Huelva coast. It is very close to the Doñana National Park and boasts a beautiful and long beach. 

Matalascañas beach is one of the prettiest of Andalusia. It is very well equipped and its waters are quiet, reason why you can enjoy the sea with your children without worry.

A promenade extends throughout the beach, where you will find no end of beach bars and pleasantly spend the afternoon while children play just a few metres away.

Besides, there are numerous hotels close to the Matalascañas beach, offering complete services for families. One of them is Flamero Hotel,  located on the shore of the sea and with comfortable apartments which can lodge up to 4 adults and three children.

Another recommended family accommodation in Matalascañas is the Dunas de Doñana Golf Resort, which has apartments specially designed for families, with several rooms and all the essential amenities. 

Both hotels have children’s entertainment and miniclub, as well as full kitchen in each apartment, swimming pool, solarium area, buffet restaurant and other services that will turn your holidays into an unforgettable experience, without needing to go out of your hotel.

And what’s more, in this tourist enclave you could do numerous activities for all tastes, such as hiking tours, horseback rides, boat trips, four-wheel drive excursions, birdwatching, etc…