A lazy meander from the winding streets of the ancient city centre, Hospes Palau de la Mar is a grand and glamorous boutique hotel occupying two former palace buildings. The hotel blends period features with a clean-lined contemporary sheen. Original features, such as the colossal wooden doors and the impressive marble staircases, offer hints of bygone grandeur, and the polished marbled lobby floors, lingering scent of orange blossom and subterranean spa lend an atmosphere of soothing serenity.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Mistela wine on arrival and free dessert with every dinner at Ampar restaurant. Guests staying four nights or more also get one day’s free bike rental
66, including five Junior Suites and a Presidential Suite.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £123.50 (€140), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates exclude breakfast.
At the hotel
Spa with small gym, sauna and steam bath, free WiFi throughout, underground parking. In rooms: plasma TV, minibar, Korres toiletries. Suites have DVD/CD players too.
Our favourite rooms
Junior Suite 501 is our top pick – it’s enormous, for starters, and has a separate entrance corridor with a long businesslike desk, as well as airy skylights, a plush bathroom with a freestanding roll-top bath and spacious walk-in shower. Rooms 310 and 410 have the best views, and the rooms around the terrace gardens are the most light and peaceful – ask for the Double Superior 005 as it’s the biggest, and has a sofa bed that’s handy for children. Any room that ends in ‘05’ has a sliding window between the bathroom and the bedroom that opens up the space and allows you to bask in the bath tub while your partner relaxes on the bed.
Fed by two miniature waterfalls, the hydrotherapy lap pool in the hotel’s ground floor may not be suited to Olympic swims but it’s ideal for a quick rejuvenating dip.
The Bodyna spa spans two floors, with the airy treatment rooms looking out onto the pretty courtyard gardens. There’s a rejuvenating array of massages and treatments, including Valencia-inspired specialities that feature Mediterranean sea salt.
Don't bother stuffing a wash bag with things you think you'll need, Palau del Mar's toiletry provision would delight Cleopatra, even down to rarely offered essentials such as a toothbrush and paste, lip balm, and a full shaving set.
Smoking is only allowed in the restaurant. Smallish dogs (up to 12kgs) are welcome, for a charge of €50 a night. Parking costs €18 a day.
Grab a window seat and watch Valencian life passing by.
You can dine in anything, but you'll want to don a shirt and jacket or a daringly cut black number to meet the mood.
The bright, white Ampar restaurant mixes regional specialities (such as paella and other rice dishes) with innovative international cuisine. Naturally, the kitchen can work miracles with oranges, and the meat is palpably exquisite. Closed Sundays.
Looking out over the garden, the smart cocktail lounge beside the lobby shakes up a mean martini and also provides coffees and teas during the day. Lined with artwork and comfortable armchairs, it's ideal for an aperitif or a nightcap.
Ampar serves lunch between 2pm and 4.30pm and dinner from 8.30pm to 11.30pm. The lounge mixes drinks until 1am.
A full menu of drinks and light meals is offered until 11pm.
Hospes Palau de la Mar is a short stroll from the heart of Valencia's old town, the shopping streets of the modern centre, and the leafy Jardines del Real.
Valencia Airport is 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel. Otherwise, you can take the Metrobus or the Aerobus to the city centre, or jump on the metro (lines 3 and 5) which takes 15 minutes to get to the centre of Valencia.
The nearest train station is Valencia Norte, about five minutes’ drive from the hotel. It has daily connections to Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Alicante and Granada. Alameda metro station is a two-minute walk.
Hospes Palau is less than 500m from the historic centre of Valencia, and bikes are available to hire from the hotel if your feet get tired. If you do decide to drive, valet parking is available at the hotel for €26 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
A minute's walk from the hotel, the 9km Jardines del Turia occupy what was once the Rió Turia’s riverbed (before it was diverted around Valencia), and make for blissful strolling ground.
La Pepica on the Valencia seafront is a former haunt of Hemingway and a roll call of Spain’s favourite bullfighters, and overlooks the sprawling beach of Las Arenas and is perfect for a lunchtime paella. The Oceanogràfic’s aquarium restaurant, Submarino provides an excellent dining experience, allowing you to enjoy flavour-packed, creatively made cuisine while surrounded by underwater life. Don’t let that put you off your prawns…
A few steps from the bustling Plaza de la Reina, Horchatería de Santa Catalinais a wonderfully tiled landmark café and an ideal spot to sample the city’s signature tiger nut concoction or to gorge on a portion chocolate con churros.
Until recently, Spain’s third city has been overshadowed by its bigger siblings Madrid and Barcelona, but a few judicious developments, an easyJet air route and the boutique-hotel allure of Hospes Palau de la Mar have meant that Valencia has been hogging an increasing amount of limelight lately. And deservedly so. As Mrs Smith and I emerge from the Metro into the sun-soaked greenery of the Jardin del Turia, we glimpse Moorish minarets, terracotta rooftops, wide boulevards, tiny labyrinthine streets and huge palm trees poking punkishly over park railings. Already, we’re glad to be here before everyone else gets in on the act.
Occupying what was once a palatial townhouse on the edge of the old-town centre, Hospes Palau de la Mar is an imposing prospect both inside and out. Once through the colossal wooden double doors, we’re met by a vision of white marble – all arches, pillars and soaring ceilings – that seems to cool us down despite the rocketing temperature outside. There is a tangy waft of orange blossom in the air – a clever aromatic touch that immediately relaxes us. We’re barely two minutes into our stay and we’ve already forgotten the stresses of the journey.
In our room, one of the hotel’s five Junior Suites, the sun beams in through remote-control skylights, leaving a shimmer on the polished dark-wood floor that makes a perfect counterpoint to the gleaming white walls. A sliding wooden panel proves to be the bathroom door, revealing a freestanding roll-top tub, a cavernous walk-in shower and a wide trough of a sink, bisected by a wooden board that holds enough mini toiletries to stock a small branch of Boots.
Having bounced on the bed, snooped through the minibar, sprawled on both sofas and been stymied by the complexities of the skylight controls, we decide that it must be about time for cocktail hour. So we decamp to the hotel bar. We settle down with two generous martinis – potent enough for use during a hippo’s epidural – and a waiter snakes over with an artful platter of surrealistically curved vegetable crisps, a vase of slender breadsticks and a bowl of delightfully bitter, herby olives. It’s just enough to get our appetites thoroughly whetted, so we strike out into the Valencian night in search of more substantial sustenance. ‘I don’t care what, as long as it’s cheap, it’s Valencian and it involves lots of ham,’ Mrs Smith decides.
In Spain, the earlier evening is the most sociable time of day; people take a twilight paseo through the city streets, strolling away the stresses of the day and stopping off for a tumbler of vino tinto at a roadside tapas bar. We wander the narrow streets of Valencia’s old town centre, passing open hobbit-hole doorways that lead to the lowest of low-key drinking dens, narrow balconies overflowing with foliage, and families and couples enjoying the evening air. We’ve barely been here four hours and I’m already I’m explaining to Mrs Smith how moving to Valencia would be a bloody good idea, actually.
The other good idea we had was Rioja. We slip a little bodega-cum-restaurant in a side street and order two large glasses of the scarlet sauce, which the waiter deposits on our table accompanied by a few slices of tender salty jamon iberico that keeps Mrs Smith contented. We continue the evening in the same vein, hopping from little bar to little bar for drinks and snacks – we’re still sat eating calamari alfresco when the nearest church tower strikes one, signalling time to return to our hotel and lose ourselves in that colossal bed.
We carry our foodie theme into the next day. After a sumptuous breakfast of cured meats, fresh fruit and assorted Continental deliciousness, we head out into the heat and towards the strikingly modernist central market (stopping into Gothic merchants’ hall La Lonja to check out the inventively obscene gargoyles). The Mercado Central is gobsmackingly huge, lined with row upon row of hams, cheeses and meat (so much meat). There’s a vast fish market annexed, where sluggish lobsters clamber over ice, live eels swish around tanks and what looks like an ocean’s worth of gourmet-dinners-in-waiting lie in a patchwork of fish, odourless and fresher than fresh.
After a glass of creamy, doughy horchata (Valencia’s signature tigernut drink) in the sun-drenched square, we stroll back to Hospes Palau de la Mar via the imposing cathedral, final (alleged) resting place of both the Holy Grail (unlikely) and the severed arm of St Vicente the Martyr (unsightly).
After an hour or two in the moodily lit Bodyna spa hydro-pool in the hotel basement, we’re ready for dinner at Ampar, the Hospes restaurant. It’s a surprisingly quiet night, but we settle down into the crisp white environment with eager anticipation. Morals out the window, I tuck into a beautifully rich foie gras with brioche, while Mrs S turns her hawkish fork to a generous lobster salad. The secret to creating a good meat dish is simply using good meat, and Amap’s chef clearly knows this well; the fillet steak and lamb rib that find their way onto our respective plates are as tender and tantalising as any we’ve tasted. There’s barely room for dessert, but, since this is Valencia, we opt to share the hotel’s signature sweet, an unexpectedly delicious concoction that is essentially oranges in orange sauce with a side of orange-flower ice-cream.
We have to leave tomorrow, and the fact that we’ve enjoyed ourselves so much might explain why we attempt to stave off the inevitable by staying up into the wrong end of the night yet again. When I finally sink into the sheets, it strikes me that Valencia may play little sister to Barcelona and Madrid, but it’s growing up fast, and is going to end up even prettier than the big girls before long – especially with hotels like Hospes Palau de la Mar in its make-up case.