Fall is an ideal time to visit Spain, thanks to the season's mild climate and reduced tourist crowds. (It's still a popular time to go, but September and October aren't nearly as busy as August, when most Europeans plan a vacation.) And visitors can avoid the hoards not just as the tourist sights, but within their hotels, too -- provided they select an intimate boutique pick, like these five attractive options.
This exclusive 15-room luxury boutique hotel embodies contemporary style at its best, fitting right in in a city that treasures design. Rooms are avant-garde, from the clean, white and beige decor, to the modern under lighting, to the remote-controlled blinds, to the Bang & Olufsen sound system. An amazing spa with Turkish baths shouldn't be missed, and the hotel's Michelin-starred on-site restaurant is a highlight. But the slightly out-of-the-way residential location is a drawback.
Hotel Ada Palace, Madrid
The tiny front desk, lack of an actual lobby, and small elevators might give a poor first impression of this upscale boutique hotel, but don't be deterred. Inside, spacious rooms are elegant (pale yellow striped walls, blue and white toile bedspreads), and have flat-screen TVs, minibars, and hydro-massage showers. Additional highlights here include a wonderful (and expensive) restaurant with gorgeous views of the surrounding buildings, and a stylish rooftop lounge. While there are few amenities, rates tend to be fair and the location on Gran Via is hard to beat.
Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
The 98-room Mandarin Oriental is one of the most luxurious hotels in Barcelona, and certainly has one of the most recognizable hotel brand names in the city. It has a great location on Passeig de Gracia, and offers all the high-end amenities one would expect from the chain, including a rooftop dipping pool, a beautiful spa, and numerous restaurants (one has a Michelin star). All-white rooms are sleek, and some have balconies, but layouts can be a bit awkward. While the service is excellent, some guests complain about street noise and there is a pesky fee for Wi-Fi.
Hospes Las Casas Del Rey de Baeza, Seville
This charming 41-room boutique is housed in an 18th-century building in the historic center of Seville, a short walk from major attractions, shops and restaurants. It is built around two beautiful traditional patios with plants; exterior hallways that lead to the rooms. While Junior Suites and Deluxe Rooms have colonial-style furnishings with a modern twist, lower-level rooms can feel a little barebones, with sparse wall decorations, simple wrought-iron headboards, and small flat-screen TVs. However, all accommodations feature quality beds, Egyptian cotton linens, and clean, modern bathrooms. The hotel features a traditional tapas restaurant, a cozy library, and private parking on-site, but the highlight here is the full-service spafeaturing a small rooftop pool with loungers and bar service.
Gran Hotel La Florida, Barcelona
With a fairly removed location in the hills that ring the city, the 70-room Gran Hotel La Florida has a history as a luxurious, star-studded getaway far from the frenzy of Barcelona's crowds. Built in 1924, it has drawn celebrities from writer Ernest Hemingway to actor Rock Hudson through the years. Relaxation is the focus here -- from the beautiful indoor/outdoor pool to the tranquil Zen Zone Spa. Guest rooms feature contemporary furnishings in soothing neutral tones, great views of either the city or the Pyrenees Mountains, and spacious marble bathrooms.