Where to Stay in Granada
Granada’s got one or two lovely boutique hotels. Top amongst them, perhaps, for the balance of wonderfully stylish rooms and substantial facilities it offers, is the Hospes Palacio de los Patos. For something a little cheaper, the 15-room Gar-Anat Hotel de Peregrinos makes for a cool and right in-the-thick-of-it place to base yourself. Other inviting choices include the AC Palacio de Santa Paula (Gran Via de Colon, 31; +34 958 805740) which, based around the gorgeous cloisters of an old monastery, is the city’s large and luxe-y option, or the understated elegance and sensational restaurant (see below) of Villa Oniria (C/ San Anton, 28; +34 958 535358).
Where to Eat in Granada
The standout place to eat in the city is La Fabula in hotel Villa Oniria - ideally, on warm days, out in the gardens surrounded by palms and fountains. Elsewhere, another couple of hotel restaurants also stand out – El Claustro in AC Palacio de Santa Paula and the Senzone restaurant at the Hospes Palacio de los Patos. Formal, sit-down restaurants aside, it’s all about the tapas in Granada – after all, it comes free with every drink bought. Start the night off with wine, cheese, olives, jamon and plenty of atmosphere at one of a handful of old-fashioned wine bars in the Realejo: La Trastienda (Plaza Cuchilleros, 11; +34 958 226965), Casa de Vinos (C/ Monjas del Carmen; +34 958 222595) and Taberna La Tana (Placeta del Agua; +34 958 225248).
To move on to something a little more modern, chic, and substantial on the food front, the newly opened Raro de Luna (C/ San Antonio, 3) has more great wine and some classic light bites with a twist whipped up right in front of you, while over towards the market, Mercado (Calle Postigo de San Agustin) and Bar Reca (Plaza de la Trinidad) are both excellent places to settle in for the evening and work through the menu.
Where to Go Out in Granada
Granada’s nightlife is more alternative and atmospheric than hip – you’re a long way from the studied cool of Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia, for instance. That said, it’s also a major university town, and if opening times may not be quite what they were (for many years, the bars of Granada had a famously lax attitude to shutting up shop and sending people home) there’s still plenty going on after dark. Tiny record shop-cum-bar Loop (San Matias, 8), is a good place to start a night out in the city, before moving on to Calle Recogidas where Aliatar Café serves well-mixed cocktails in an old cinema. To take the night down a notch or two, jazz club Café Bohemia does a fab line in cocktails and alcoholic coffees in a speakeasy-style venue, while to get a sense of the neighbourhood feel of the Albayzin at night, it’s also well worth seeking out (and it does take some seeking out...) La Higuera (C/ Horno de Hoyo; +34 958 275156).
After that, the options become just a little thinner. Two cheesy clubs – Mae West and Granada 10 – promise late openings, plenty of preening and posturing and not a great deal else. For something a bit more respectable music-wise, Boogaclub (C/ Santa Barbara, 3) plays a decent mix of jazz, blues, soul and funk, while Sugarpop (C/ Gran Capitan, 25) is a sweaty little basement club – that knocks out anything and everthing from soul through to indie and punk depending on what night you turn up – which gets underway at around 1am and stays open until… late. During the summer, a trip out to El Camborio (Camino Sacromonte, 47; +34 958 221215) is a must. Up in the gypsy quarter of Sacromonte and spanning a series of interconnected caves, the music can be hit or miss, but it’s the perfect spot for watching the sun come up over the Alhambra after a long night of partying.
As for where to catch a bit of proper flamenco in Granada: Peña Flamenca la Plateria (Placeta de Toqueros 7; +34 958 210650) is one of the better of the more formal options, while at the more rough and ready end of the spectrum, Le Chien Andalou (Carrera del Darro, 6; +34 617 106623) and El Tabanco del Tio Gregorio (Cuesta de San Gregorio, 24; +34 662 137046) both put on decent acts several nights a week in authentically cramped surroundings. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for El Eshavira (Calle Postigo de la Cuna). This perennially scruffy dive had closed for a (long overdue) lick of paint at the time of writing, but having being one of the best live jazz and flamenco venues in Granada since, well, practically forever, it’s worth nipping down the narrow alleyway it’s hidden down to see if it’s reopened again.
What to Wear in Granada
Hippy chic is still the look to go for in summer. In winter, by contrast, it gets cold and at nearly 800 metres above sea level, a good hat, scarf and glove combo definitely won't go amiss. A decent pair of flat ankle boots is also a must, as a combination of cobbles and steep hills can be absolutely murder on the feet. Plus, believe it or not, average annual rainfall is more than in London, and when it rains, it really rains. Layering up is a good idea, too, as when that sun does come out in the winter months, it’s still pretty warm and you can find yourself quickly wanting to shed a few items over your morning coffee...
Where to Shop in Granada
Stepping into Lolita’s Closet (C/ Puentezuelas, 48; +34 958 258433) is like throwing open an old, over-filled wardrobe and watching a load of hard-to-find-quality 50s cocktail dresses, shoes, coats and gorgeous brooches tumble out. A few doors down, is the Granada branch of Spanish fashion brand Kling (yet to reach the UK) and, elsewhere in the city, Poete (C/ Angel Ganivet, 9; +34 958 226893) and Dolores Promesas (C/ Montereros, 2; +34 958 254946) are both worth a good rummage. The newest addition to the shopping scene in Granada, Fashionista (C/ San Anton, 8; +34 605 781930), has the best selection of bags and shoes in the city.
Where to Go For Pampering in Granada
Granada has a choice of not one, but two, Arabic baths. The first, Baños Arabes (C/ Santa Ana, 16; +34 902 333334), is housed in a 14th-century Moorish townhouse just of Plaza Nueva, and offers the full hammam experience – an hour and a half of pools, steam rooms and massages surrounded by striking tiles and keyhole archways. Alternatively, you can go more modern – the faux Moorish feel doesn’t really jar at all – and get more pools and slightly smarter all-round facilities for your money at Aljibe de San Miguel (C/ San Miguel Alta, 41; +34 958 522867). Whichever one you go for, they’re a fab way to while away an indulgent couple of hours.
Don't Leave Granada Without...
…visiting the Alhambra, obviously. Sitting high up on a hill above the city, the Moorish palace/fortress complex dominates the skyline from pretty much wherever you are, but it’s also well worth taking the time to wander the gardens, echoing patios and fabulously ornate state rooms of what is a truly magical place.
As for something to take home with you: at the end of Calle Elvira in the shadow of a dramatic Moorish gateway is Al Sur de Granada, a store/wine bar which serves a wide range of locally produced foodstuffs. Pick up a bottle or two of olive oil or local wine, or a few slices of jamon serrano, and you’re likely to make any foodie friends you’ve got very happy indeed…