I'm not one for luxury. Not only is it out of my price range, but it just doesn't suit my personal tastes. However, a few times a year - usually when traveling and usually at the behest of Christine - I will indulge in something (generally accommodation) less spartan than usual. In this case, here on the Camino that indulgence was at the five star Parador de San Marcos in León, Spain. And it was a spectacular (and expensive) disappointment.
The hotel was located in a gorgeous 16th century building (built on the remnants of a 12th century pilgrim hospital) that was very beautiful, I must admit. On the outside, anyway. The inside was nothing to write home about, with the hallways being quite cramped and decorated with tacky antiques, all highlighted by an old an dusty red carpet. Classy til the end.
The service was sub-par, and both checking in and out took longer than it should have. Our ye olde fashioned key was attached to a hilariously oversized metal slab of a keychain that easily weighed over a pound. While novel, it was terribly impractical. However, the most disappointing aspect of our stay was the sheer lack of amenities. No tea or coffee maker in the room, no pool or sauna or hot tub, no gym, no movies to rent on the tiny TV, no English channels (aside from BBC News) on that tiny TV, a tiny TV, and no vending machines or even ice machines. I had to keep asking myself what precisely I was paying for.
As for the room, it was fine. Not much different than any average three star hotel - small room, small tv, generic decorations. The walls and ceiling were not really clean, nor were the old and worn carpets. The bathroom was nice enough, but again, not much different from a standard three star hotel. I mean, it was just a bathroom. Nothing fancy. Actually, it was LESS than fancy because the blow dryer didn't really work. The only real positive was the breakfast buffet, which was included in the price. Suffice it to say, I gorged away as much disappointment as I could.
In the end, the hotel failed to meet my rather moderate expectations. When I cough up money for unnecessary things like expensive hotels I generally expect them to be nicer than the hovels I usually stay in. If I wanted a small, dirty, overpriced room I would have just went back to university. Lesson learned, I suppose.