We’ve been booking hotel rooms in Spain for clients since the year 2000 and part of that process is briefing clients on what to expect when they book their hotels in Spain and what extras they can ask for upon arrival. Because most of our clients here at Totally Spain come from the US, the UK, Canada and Australia, our advice is coming from an Anglo-Saxon perspective.
How to Get the Best Hotel Rooms in Spain
1 Booking Hotel Rooms in Spain
Our first tip is to be careful with what you ask for when it comes to beds and bedrooms. To many non-Spanish speakers a ‘double room’ means a room with one large bed and a ‘twin room’ a room with two beds. However in Spain, a ‘doble’ is a twin room with 2 beds usually measuring 0.90m x 2m. If you want a double bed rather than a double room – you must request a ‘cama matrimonio’ when booking the room. Even then, it will usually be subject to availability at time of check-in.
A double bed or ‘cama matrimonio’ is usually queen-size i.e. 1.5m x 2m. King-sized beds are 1.8m x 2m and are usually only available in junior suites or suites. If you want a king-sized bed and don’t want to pay the supplement for a suite, note that twin beds when pushed together are king-size. Hotels often have special oversized sheets and bedcovers and will make up two twin beds as one large bed if requested. Our tip to couples who value extra bedroom space is to reserve a twin room as these are usually assigned more space than a room with one double bed. Remember that hotel rooms are quite small in central and southern Europe especially when compared with North American standards.
It’s important to know that hotels in Spain usually don’t guarantee a particular room configuration at the time of booking. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you check-in early (by 1pm). The exception here would be wheelchair-accessible rooms – which usually need to be requested at the time of booking.
Having wi-fi allows you to research your destinations, check maps and stay in touch. If this is a priority for you in your hotel room, you many have to pay in some Spain hotels to guarantee good access as some hotels here charge extra for the service. If the fees seem steep, you should consider hiring a mobile wi-fi device. See our post on this here.
Smoking rooms are now the exception in Spain and are always based on availability. If you are a smoker, you should request a smoking room when booking but also at check-in. You are most likely to get a smoking room if you check-in early e.g. before 1pm.
Want a room with a view? Everybody likes views. In many properties, views or exterior rooms are considered superior and have a supplement. If you are offered an exterior room you usually get more light and views of course, but if it’s in a city or a built-up area it will generally be noisier as you’ll have traffic and pedestrians going by. If you have a room that faces the interior, you’ll miss out on the views, but you’ll probably have a much better night’s sleep. If you have a preference, request when booking and check in early. BTW We are often asked why the blinds or shutters are always down or closed in Spanish hotel rooms in the Summer – it’s to keep out the heat.
Up high or down low? If given a choice, we recommend selecting hotel rooms in Spain on the higher storeys of the hotel to get more light and less street noise.
Not only are hotel rooms in Spain smaller than say in North America – the bathrooms might be also. Many newer hotels in the towns and cities only have showers in the bathroom. If you need a bath, be sure to request this at booking and check-in. And if you must have a walk-in shower, check whether your hotel offers this before booking. Do not assume they will have one.
2 Checking-In To Hotel Rooms in Spain
If you didn’t do so at booking, remember to ask about parking rates at check-in. Parking is rarely included in the booking rate, especially in the larger Spanish cities . It’ll probably be 10-18 EUR per night for enclosed off-street parking. Remember street parking is usually free in Spain on Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday. However, if you choose to park on the street, the same rules apply in Spain to valuables as in any other country – never leave anything in an unattended car.
Struggling with bags? Bear in mind that porterage is the exception these days and not the rule. Don’t expect to find a porter and don’t be offended if no one in reception offers to assist you with your bags. The exception would be luxury 5 star hotels which generally have a porter or bell-boy called a ‘Botones’ in Spanish named after the buttons of their uniform. How much to tip? Usually 1 EUR per bag – you can read on guide to Tipping in Spain here.
It’s worth adding that our experience with customer service in Spanish hotels varies greatly from hotel to hotel. Customer service standards can at times be lower than those found in North America – so if you ever encounter what you might regard as less-than-perfect customer service, please don’t take it to heart. From our experience, empathy doesn’t often come naturally to some hotel reception staff. Our advice is to be friendly and patient which we find leads to much better results.
We’ve said it already but we’ll say it again – if you do nothing else – our pro-tip to getting a great room is to check in by 1pm. This is when the best choice of rooms are available. You can store your luggage in reception at the hotel if your room is not ready but do try to get there early if you can.
3 What Facilities to Expect in Your Hotel
Before you change into your swimsuit – remember that outdoor pools are normally only open during the summer months in Spain. The opening and closing of the pool for the season may be dictated by the local weather conditions or by a particular calendar date. Check when booking. Also because a hotel says it has a pool don’t assume that it will be a large pool. In city hotels for example indoor pools tend to be quite small and are often ‘dipping’ pools rather than ‘swimming pools’.
An iron is considered a fire hazard and is rarely available in hotel rooms in Spain. If you need an iron and you haven’t found one in your room, you can request it from reception.
Tea & coffee making facilities are not usually provided in Spanish hotels. Because kettles are not commonly used appliances in Spain, capsule-based coffee machines may be available but generally are only provided in hotel suites – the expectation is that guests will pop downstairs to the hotel bar for a coffee.
If you find that you need extra toiletries or towels, ask for them in reception. Rooms in Spain will usually have a hairdryer in the bathroom – if not ask at reception. If one is not available and you are staying for a number of nights, considering buying a small one which will cost less than 20 EUR.
Lots of hotels offer a pillow menu so if you don’t like your pillow, ask for a change. If a certain type of pillow is a deal-breaker for you, make sure to ask whether the hotel can provide it before you arrive.
Can’t work the A/C? Air conditioning and heating in bedrooms can often be the cause for complaints. Many hotels in Spain have a system whereby they switch the entire hotel over to heating mode during colder months and then back to a/c for other times of the year. When the hotel is in ‘heating mode’ the a/c may not be available or may be poor. And vice versa. If you must always have a/c or must always have heating be sure to check that the hotel you are considering has a modern system that functions well.
Spanish hotel workers such as chambermaids don’t expect tips. If you wish to leave a gratuity for your chambermaid, make it obvious that it is a tip. See our guide on Tipping in Spain for more on this subject.
3 Should You Dine At Your Hotel?
Breakfast will usually not be included in the basic rate for the hotel room. Always ask at check-in whether breakfast is included and if not, how much it costs. Hotel breakfasts vary depending on the nationality of the guests they cater to – for example those catering purely to the national market may not offer a buffet breakfast because Spaniards generally have light breakfasts and often grab their first coffee at a bar. If you are in a downtown location and can’t or don’t choose to have a hotel breakfast – you can easily get a coffee, croissant or toast and a juice deal from one of the nearby bars. If you are having a hotel buffet breakfast, then prepare yourself for some tasty cured hams and cheeses, and possibly Spanish tortilla, as well as fresh fruit, and coffee and pastries. Buffet breakfasts can generally cost anything from 8 EUR to 15 EUR per person so do be sure you want this option when booking. Totally Spain is happy to book hotels for you with or without breakfast as part of a custom package and it can make a big difference to the final price of the trip.
Local residents in Spain rarely go to their nearby hotel for a meal or a drink, and Spaniards staying in the hotel will generally eat and socialise outside their hotel, especially in the busier towns and cities. Spain’s streets are always bustling with people until very late at night so whenever possible we suggest you go out and discover neighbourhood bars and restaurants. You can ask for recommendations at reception or do some research online (see our post on where to reserve tables online). If you are planning to dine at your hotel, check the restaurant opening times – mealtimes in Spain are usually later than elsewhere in Europe although hotels can sometime be more accommodating and offer earlier dining times. Read our Guide on Spanish Mealtimes for more.
If you’ve enjoyed this overview on hotel rooms in Spain, you should also read our blogposts on Top Hotel Complaints in Spain and How to Avoid Having to Make Them and the Best Hotels with Views in Spain.
4 How to secure the best hotel rooms in Spain without having to do any research?
We can book you into the best hotel rooms in Spain – and ensure you get all the extras you need to enjoy your stay – whether that’s a walk-in shower, an outdoor pool, a particular pillow or a quiet room with great views. We can also recommend hotels with great restaurants, with character and of course, hotels that are suitable for guests with reduced mobility. Talk to us about your trip today.