6th November, 2014

The Carter Company's bike tours are created on two principles: 1) gentle cycling along thoughtfully designed routes is the best way to get to know a place and 2) a day of gentle cycling should always be followed by a night in a luxurious but characterful and unique hotel.

We believe strongly that the beauty is in the details and we want our customers to enjoy the finer things in life - because that's what holidays are for! With that in mind, it will come as little surprise that we spend a lot of time looking for unusual, boutique accommodation to use on our tours. The criteria is typically: quality, service, location and character. We know that customers visiting from overseas want to experience a slice of authentic England, not stay in a hotel that looks and feels the same on the inside as every other hotel. So we get to work on the ground, speaking to locals about their favourite places to stay, visiting endless establishments, and finally selecting our favourites.

One of our Spanish tours uses some very special accommodation indeed - traditional Paradors. "What are Paradors?" you ask. Well, they are ancient buildings - monasteries, castles, palaces and manor houses - that have been turned into hotels. Spain has a long, rich history and some remarkable buildings to show for it. Much of this architectural heritage dates from the time of the conquest of several countries in South America, which bought much wealth back to Spain. However, by 1928, many were falling into disrepair, so an organisation was formed to help restore, refurbish and reutilise these spectacular buildings as hotels.

Our Land of the Spanish Conquistadors cycling holiday for softies features a number of Paradors, including Parador de Trujillo, which is in the former convent of Santa Clara. As you can imagine, it's stunningly peaceful and calm and boasts two wonderful cloisters, one of which features Renaissance arches and columns. The Parador de Jarandilla, where you stay on the fourth night, is surrounded by a lush landscape of olive and orange trees and known for its absolutely delicious authentic local cuisine. Originally a castle (with awe-inspiring fortified towers), it once played host to Emperor Charles V for several months. Finally, we must mention one other: Oropresa, which dates back to 1402 and offers exceptional panoramic views of the Gredos mountain range.

Spain can be a little too hot to cycle in during the peak summer months, so we usually recommend the 'shoulder months' of March, April and May to take our Spanish bike tours. So if the sound of these unique Paradors has whet your appetite, you really have the perfect excuse to book an early summer holiday for next year!