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    Ciudades imprescindibles para este 2017

    Los destinos de vacaciones en verano poco o nada tienen que ver con los destinos que uno empieza a barajar a partir de septiembre. Los que tendemos a reservarnos el grueso de días libres fuera de la temporada alta siempre apuntamos a lugares que no solo se basan en el clásico sol y playa, nos gustan las ciudades, especialmente las grandes capitales con una buena oferta cultural, y la montaña, ideal para los meses en los que los rigores del calor ya no son tan excesivos y se puede disfrutar a gusto del deporte al aire libre.

     

    Es a partir de que se cierra el telón de agosto cuando viramos las miras hacia puntos geográficos como Madrid, Sevilla o Barcelona. Sí, vuelven a ponerse de moda las grandes ciudades y sus excelentes atractivos. Los que no viajamos en verano es cierto que luego troceamos más nuestras vacaciones y solemos apostar por fines de semana largos o semanas de 7 a 10 días en zonas donde tejer planes diferentes: mar, montaña y ciudad. Esas tres claves combinadas de mil formas. Siempre funciona.

     

    Una ciudad con sentimiento

    Sevilla, por ejemplo, es una ciudad a la que no deberías dejar de ir este 2017 pero que evidentemente descartamos cada verano. Las temperaturas extremas que marcan los termómetros de la capital hispalense obligan a ello: nadie en su sano juicio se organiza 15 días en pleno mes de agosto a Sevilla por puro amor al arte pudiendo hacerlo en septiembre, cuando las tardes empiezan a refrescar y se está como nunca en sus terrazas y plazas.

     

    Jardines árabes, museos, monumentos que nos asaltan a cada paso, callejuelas en las que se abren puertas que nos conducen directamente al corazón de pequeños tablaos, plazas abarrotadas de locales que hablan y ríen en grupo saboreando una cañita fresca con su tapa de salmorejo o jamón… Sevilla es una promesa cumplida de buen vivir, de gastronomía y vida nocturna. Su gente, llena de energía y buen humor, te llevará de la mano a encontrar esa conexión indispensable con esta capital llena de color y alegría.

     

    La gran capital mediterránea

    Barcelona es otro estilo. Su carácter cosmopolita la hace menos campechana y más sofisticada en algunos aspectos. Sin embargo, saliendo del centro y buscando refugio en los barrios de moda encontrarás un mundo de culturas en el que sumergirte y descubrir la verdadera Barcelona: la que brinda acogida a inmigrantes de todas las nacionalidades, la que apoya las nuevas ideas y apuesta por destacar con diseños que se salen de lo habitual, la que busca diferenciarse con propuestas muy distintas, más europeas, más internacionales sin abandonar la esencia local.

     

    Museos, teatros, plazas y terrazas, las tiendas vintage, el vermú de los mercados, las tapas y las zonas de marcha con salas tan emblemáticas que ellas por sí mismas ya atraen a buena parte del turismo que tiene la ciudad. Barcelona es un conglomerado de actividades tal que es imposible no encontrar algo entretenido con lo que divertirse y hacer que cada día de las vacaciones sea completamente diferente al anterior. Raval, Poble Sec, Eixample, Montjuic… Cada barrio, cada distrito ofrece una historia que merece la pena.

     

    Moverse por Sevilla o Barcelona es muy sencillo y económico si optas por transporte público. Si decides descubrir sus alrededores y salir de la ciudad, te recomendamos alquilar un coche, de lo contrario, puedes disfrutar mejor moviéndote en metro, bus o taxi. Respecto al tema del alojamiento, los hoteles más interesantes son los que se mueven entre las 3 y 4 estrellas y están situados cerca del centro de la ciudad histórica. Los hoteles boutique de firmas como Vincci o Petit Palace son algunos de los más valorados junto con los de la cadena Catalonia, destacando, por ejemplo en Barcelona, el Petit Palace Barcelona y, en Sevilla, el Petit Palace Santa Cruz, en el mismo barrio de Santa Cruz, junto a la Catedral. Para consultar precios y ofertas, lo mejor es acudir a sus webs oficiales.

    The Paseo del Arte in Madrid: the must-see museums

    Madrid’s Paseo del Prado (Prado Walk) has changed its name. Now a lot of people know it as Madrid’s Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) or speak of it as part of the Art Triangle where some of the world’s most special and historical works are kept. This is because over the last decades, in the nearby surroundings of the Prado Museum, several high-class museums and galleries have been opened.

    We refer especially to Thyssen Bornemisza and CaixaForum, the most recent important art venue to become part of the area and join the inimitable Prado Museum and Reina (Queen) Sofía, though more geared to contemporary art. Its temporary exhibitions are always a success and many are programmed outside the centre, in a place that is pure history: the Retiro Crystal Palace.

    All these museums, from the most modern to the most classic, have permanent collections that are essential, especially if we talk about the gems conserved by the Prado from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Some experts even say that it is the most important museum of European painting in the world. In addition to these permanent collections you can’t miss the temporary ones which are of such a high quality that it is worth organizing a trip to Madrid just to go and see them. Of course, it is important to avoid the holidays and the months in the height of the season since the queues are endless.

    But you should visit the Art Triangle not just for these first class artistic centres, but also because it is located next to one of Madrid’s neighbourhoods most linked to the world of literature, where there lived some of the most representative intellectuals of the country and a good part of Europe. In its surroundings there are many more museums that merit a visit, at least once in a lifetime:

    The National Archaeological Museum

    The House-Museum of Lope de Vega

    The burning house

    The Tabacalera

    The National Library of Spain

    The Book Museum

    The Madrid Wax Museum

    The MAPFRE Foundation

    The Museum of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando

    The National Museum of Decorative Arts

    The Naval Museum of Madrid

    The National Museum of Anthropology

    The House of America

    And also in those same surroundings, art is transformed into flavours and the counters in the bars and taverns of the Barrio de las Letras become real display frames on which to sculpt the best tapas. Cuisine as an artistic and historical concept fills more and more gaps and both concepts are mixed creating spectacular routes in which the world’s artistic jewels blend perfectly with the most authentic flavours.

    The Barrio de las Letras, very close to the Gran Vía, also offers interesting alternatives for accommodation and nightlife, making it not only a tourist landmark for art lovers but for anyone wishing to plan a weekend getaway to Madrid as a couple, with children or with friends.

    Regarding accommodation near the Paseo del Arte we can highlight some of the Petit Palace chain, such as the Petit Palace Savoy Alfonso XII, located opposite the Retiro; The Petit Palace Clíper Gran Via, designed for families who want to move comfortably through the historic centre of Madrid; or already a little in the suburbs, approaching the area of ​​Castellana, the Petit Palace Arturo Soria, for those who prefer tranquillity at a good price in Madrid.

     

    The 4 things you shouldn’t miss out on in Madrid

    Madrid is a city that has so much to offer that sometimes one trip doesn’t always cover everything you hope to do. However, if you go with something in mind and follow this list of 4 things to do during your visit to Madrid (especially if you’ve never been before), we’re sure you’ll go back home happy and excited to go back and experience it all again. The following suggestions are for all preferences so, no matter who you’re travelling with, enjoy!

    A vermouth in La Latina

    Heading out for a vermouth in any Spanish town is fun and interesting whether it be with friends, your partner or even the kids. However, having a vermouth in Madrid is practically part of their weekly ritual. In the La Latina zone and now in many local pubs and bars in Lavapiés, it’s normal and trendy to eat something before Saturday lunch. Here, you’ll find everyone is out in the streets laughing and having fun.

    The tapas are delicious with the best ones being: Russian salad, Andalusian calamari, cured cheese, cuts of Spanish ham, croquettes, sirloin and patatas bravas. Nowadays the variety is infinite with a range of tapas and pinchos (small aperitifs) for vegetarians and children.

    The Triangle of Art

    If you’re a fan of art or even if you don’t have the remotest idea, the Triangle of Art in Madrid is worth a visit. The El Prado museum is one of the most recognised museums in the world, with one of the best and fascinating collections of works from every century. A visit of some of the halls or high-quality temporary exhibitions should be enough (as you could spend days exploring the whole museum).

    For those who prefer contemporary art, the Reina Sofía or CaixaForum are the perfect choices for you. Temporary art exhibitions take the lead in both these centres. Innovative artists from all over the world have left their stamp here. Also, these centres are always hosting interesting events and workshops for adults and children.

    Have a picnic in Buen Retiro Park

    Put aside time to visit this green paradise of Madrid. You’ll get to appreciate the lake, boats, walkways, places to relax, impressive glass palace (where you can sometimes find art, sculpture and photography expositions) along with the most incredible ambiance in all Madrid, especially if you’re visiting with the little ones.

    A theatre production

    Or a stand-up comedy show, opera, musical or live concert. If you go to Madrid you have to take advantage of the biggest benefit of this great capital: that the programme of events is relentless, so much so in its cinema premiers as in its dance performances and other lesser-known stage disciplines. In Madrid, you can find options for all preferences and ages.

    The only thing you should keep in mind is that the better you plan your trip and the sooner you book event tickets, the better off you’ll be, as tickets in Madrid either tend to sell out fast or become expensive quickly. With that being said however, there are many things worth doing that are free like music performances in small bars or concerts by lesser well-known groups that will surprise you with how good they can be.

    In terms of accommodation, if you want to enjoy Madrid in 4 days, the best thing to do is opt for a centralised hotel which is well-equipped and from which you can access all the historic points of interest in Madrid. Some of the best for this are: the Petit Palace Puerta del Sol hotel (just next to the emblematic zone where the bells are rung for the end-of-year celebration) and the Petit Palace Alfonso XXII (next to Buen Retiro Park).

    Luxury experiences in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

    Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the great capitals to travel to in winter. Perfect at any time of the year, now is really when it shows us its best attractions: fewer tourists and, therefore, more native and authentic than ever, the Canarian capital opens its doors to the select traveler who seeks gourmet experiences, relaxation and wellness, shopping and high-level culture.

    Luxury trips to classic destinations are more fashionable than ever. You may have already gone to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but it is very likely that you have done it in high season and at a typical beach resort. And, although that option is also excellent, it certainly has nothing to do with discovering the island and its capital during the winter, when everything is calm and when luxury hotels and restaurants are at more affordable prices and with a greater offer available.

    Traveling in winter to Santa Cruz de Tenerife will allow you to enjoy the city from a totally different perspective. Its customs and local side is openly displayed before the few tourists who in these months of January and February take days to visit the capital. Just before the carnival, which this year squares at the end of February, is when you will find the most authentic Santa Cruz, with fewer false offers and with all its primary and natural charm.

    Summary

    After Christmas and before Carnival is the best time to schedule a golf or spa getaway to Tenerife.

    Designed for the most observant, the lovers of local culture understood through its daily routines, its folklore and its context, and travelers who like to take away memories of small and unique moments, Santa Cruz offers a luxurious version that is well worth the whim. If you have days off to catch it during these winter months, before the big carnival, book a flight and land in this luxury destination.

    Select hotels

    The first thing to choose to enjoy your Santa Cruz luxury is a unique hotel. Some of the hotels with more history and charm of all Spain are concentrated here in this Canarian Capital. This is the case of the Hotel Botanico, an accommodation with Oriental-style Grand Luxury and impeccable service that takes all the life forming part of the rhythm of this capital. Next to it is also the NH Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where the tradition and modernity characteristic of this chain meet in a space tailored to the most urbanites.

    Another of the great classics of luxury accommodation in Tenerife is the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Mencey of IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts where you can enjoy, in addition to a unique accommodation in Spain, the best cooking class of the Canaries: Mencey’s Cookery Classroom. From there, we recommend the courses of tastings and Canarian cheese, the rice workshops and the possibility of reserving their stoves for special events, thus giving companies and individuals the opportunity to design an original event with a guarantee of success. The classroom has regular luxury visitors, who are part of the nationally most acclaimed chefs selection, as well as a local team of luxury chefs who are able to combine the best and most exotic international cuisine with the most authentic flavors from the Canary Islands. Always taking care of the product to the maximum level.

    Golf experiences

    January and February is when the golf season in the Canary Islands opens and it is now when hotels with golf courses or near the most famous courses of the islands make their offers and special packages for winter experiences. Booking now at a luxury hotel with discounts on green fees is easier than ever, yes: watch the location because in Santa Cruz is not where the best fields are, but in the south where you can find interesting resorts like the Vincci Tenerife Golf.

    The most emblematic fields of the island are the Real Club de Golf de Tenerife, the famous Golf del Sur and the Buenavista Golf. But if you want to review the entire list of existing courses to be able to evaluate competition dates and special tournaments, the Tenerife Golf Association and the official Tourism website always has updated information.

    Wellness Experiences

    Yes, wellness experiences can be had without leaving Santa Cruz, in the most exclusive hotels or in the many specialized centers that are all over the city. The techniques are always combined here with innovative massages and professional physiotherapy therapies duly accredited. It is very important to know the specific training of the team that works in the wellness center that is chosen for a treatment since it is often more health than relaxation and that is convenient for an accredited physiotherapist.

    The beauty centers and the relaxation spaces of the hotels are a good option when reserving a package of accommodation and treatments or circuits. The rates at this time of year, after Christmas and before Carnival, are the most affordable, especially if you book without intermediaries directly on the official spa and hotel websites.

    Design hotels take the reins

    It’s been some time since design hotels have made such a strong impression but this year promises to be their year. Located in charming refurbished antique buildings and paying attention to small details, these hotels are a must-stay for your holidays. And now you’ll not only find them in big capital cities; Bilbao and Malaga now offer distinguished hotels, with unique experiences which suit and complement the destination’s surroundings. Welcome to a new era of hotel experience.

    Found in desirable locations, these hotels offer charming spaces, elegant furniture and exquisite design to create a unique atmosphere with the opportunity to enjoy historical buildings which, before the construction of the hotel, were not in use. They are small, charming and very selective hotels. A new design that will captivate all kinds of holidaymakers.

    Choosing one of these hotels means a guaranteed unique experience with many guests putting the same effort into finding one of these as they would searching for a specific beach or museum, making them a prime reason for their trip. In fact, most of the time, the hotel counts for a big part of their holiday, with guests wishing only to take advantage of all the hotel’s services and facilities without going on outings away from the establishment. Guests only come to rest, disconnect and relax in a place that has character.

    Although up until a time ago there was something exclusive and special about going on a city break to a big capital city, now you can find everything you want to do in medium-sized cities or touristic sun and beach destinations like Mallorca or Tenerife. Bit by bit, this trend is expanding and big hotel chains like IBEROSTAR are adding these types of hotels to their profile such as Vincci Hotels, Catalonia, Melià, Barceló, NH or those in Madrid city centre. Additionally, another pioneer hotel joining in with this trend is Petit Palace by High Tech.

    Feel different

    Petit Palace Hotels is the perfect example of this trend sweeping Spain. Other than in Madrid and Barcelona, where the best part of their city break hotels are based, they are now setting up shop in places like Malaga, Bilbao, Seville, Malaga and Valencia. All these will be design hotels constructed from antique buildings, combining the classic with the modern, completely refurbished whilst still maintaining their exquisite historical design, converting spaces into chill out areas with new age services and attention to detail when it comes to making the experience unique to every guest.

    They will be distinct in their design and, moreover, their services: free bike hire, free wifi in all rooms and renting of technological devices at no extra cost (iPad, rooms fitted with computers, etc…) They allow pets and specialise in accommodating all different guests (high-ranking directors, groups of friends, families with small children, etc…) offering custom-made rooms.

    Take advantage of the experience

    Built over the basic structure, every hotel has its own character, it mimics its surroundings and offers many leisure activities to complement the guest’s experience. Special walking tours, activities for families (like the Family Experience), couples or friends; discounts on entries to the best shows or cultural centres of the destination; reservations for nearby golf courses; beauty salons; spa and wellbeing centres; and direct access to beaches or authentic old towns.

    Taste all the flavours

    The hotels’ gastronomy is a treat in itself as much as any other part of the hotel; it’s unique and different. Signature dishes with a concoction of variety and fusion, combining innovative and traditional blends with local and international influences. The dishes in these hotels are made keeping in mind the destination and guest preferences. Thus, there are hotels that offer restaurants á la carte or special dishes for business meetings;  banquets and others that offer free breakfast at the time of booking.

    Fair prices

    True, design hotels offer more experience but they are also a bit pricier; yet, at the same time, fairer than you would think. Most are 4 star hotels, accounting for the wide variety of services and facilities on offer, without amounting to the price of a luxury 5-star hotel. They offer lots of attractive promotions with guarantees that would be unthinkable in other type of hotel; extremely important and necessary when it comes to feeling at ease during your stay. Consult, as an example of what these hotels offer, the offers of Petit Palace to see for yourself that the price is a fair proposal for the values and services it has available. What’s more, you’ll see that the quality is as good as any luxury hotel.