Ever since we moved to Spain, I get overwhelmed searching for hotels for our explorations within Spain. In big cities, it is easy enough to find well-regarded articles in travel blogs, magazines or newspapers that recommend unique hotels. But in the lesser-known towns, where we like to travel, I have a hard time finding places with a qualified recommendation. I think it is a combination of searching for information in English and that internet usage is different here. In California, I could count on bloggers, magazines and newspaper articles to feature off-the-beaten path travel ideas. I am sure that Spanish bloggers and newspapers do the same - but you have to search in Spanish or Catalan. Plus, my experience tells me that many locals operate on word-of-mouth recommendations or they simply know about interesting places because their families have lived here for generations.
Fortunately, in researching our most recent vacation I stumbled upon the Inns of Spain website. Who knows why it took me three summers in Spain to find it! Inns of Spain offers a select group of unique hotels prefered by independent-minded travellers. People who are looking for places off-the-beaten-path and craving a more authentic Spanish experience. If you love big resort with organized activities this is not your site. The hotel selection runs from casa rurales (similar to a bed and breakfast) to chic urban boutique hotels within a range of prices and amenities.
A really cool feature of Inns of Spain is the ability to search for hotels along your travel route. In my case, I was looking for a hotel either four or five hours south of Barcelona. Finding a unique hotel that fit our needs was more important than driving to the exact halfway point. So, I searched routes within an hour radius of our halfway point. To search for hotels along your route, you will find the search function pictured above on the Inns of Spain homepage. On the Trip Planner and Route page, you can find some precalculated touristic routes, Washington Irving route and the Caliphate route are a few - or create your own, from which you can save as a PDF.
Inns of Spain has been around for 10 years, so you can trust their recommendations and customer service. For most of their hotel offerings, instant online availabilty is available. Otherwise, their staff will get back to you promptly with the reservation possibility. I was surprised with how quickly they responded to my availabiltiy inquiries and emailed me questions to ensure we had a great stay. Inns of Spain handles all the communication with the hotel, which makes it easier with language barrier. If you are planning a vacation to Spain and looking for an off-the-beaten path hotel, be sure to book early as many of these places only offer a few rooms.
The company that runs Inns of Spain, also offers Inns of Italy, Inns of France, Inns of Argentina, Inns of Morocco, Inns of Chile, Inns of Costa Rica, Inns of Portugal and a site dedicated to the Paradores of Spain. While I haven't used these different sites (I hope to soon!), I feel confident recommending them based on my experience with their Spain site.