Spanish hotels do justice to the number of stars they have been awarded: any four- or five-star hotel is sure to be comfortable and well-run, with the kind of facilities and services to be expected of top-scale properties.
There are quite a few smaller three-star hotels on par with establishments of a higher category as regards general comfort.
Spanish hotels are generally good value for money.
Aena manages 47 airports and one heliport equipped with modern facilities and a complete range of commercial services.
Spain has a modern motorway network (some of which are toll roads) and a fast-expanding high-speed train system. Consult RENFE's train timetables.
Spaniards and Their Customs
The bars and cafés – which are plentiful – are usually busy, especially before mealtimes when the locals congregate for a drink and a tapa.
Clubs and bars usually close at 4am, although closing times depend on the region. Nevertheless, cities and large towns have after-hour establishments that are open until well into the morning.
Spaniards are fond of eating out, so you should book in advance if the restaurant is popular.
People tend to eat much later than in Northern Europe: breakfast at 10-10.30am, after an hour or so at work (mostly public sector workers); lunch from 1.30-3.30pm; and dinner from 8.30pm onwards.
Understandably, people go to bed much later than in other parts of Europe, above all in the summer months.
Restaurants usually start serving lunch from 1.30pm, and dinner from 9pm; although there are restaurants that serve meals all day.
Banks are usually open to the public from Monday-Friday from 8am-2pm – Spain has the largest number of cash dispensers in Europe.
Despite plans to implement the one-time shift in the private sector, smaller businesses normally open from 8am-2pm and from 4pm to 7pm, and shops from 9.30am-1.30pm and from 4.30-8pm. During the summer months, some shops on the coast open until 10pm.
Most department stores, high street shops, supermarkets and shopping centres open from Monday-Saturday from 10am-9 or 10pm.
Chemists open from 9.30am-1.30pm and from 4.30-8pm, although there are 24-hour chemists in the country's cities and large towns.
Calling an ambulance in Spain: 112 or 061.
There are 10 Bank Holidays in Spain: 1 and 6 January, Maundy Thursday (except in Catalonia) and Good Friday during Easter Week, 1 May, 15 August, 12 October, 1 November, 6 , 8 and 25 December. In addition, each autonomous community has its own Bank Holidays, as do the country's cities, towns and villages.
When a bank holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday (or even a Wednesday) there is a tendency to make a long weekend out of it; though this is not general practice.
Neither restaurants nor taxi drivers expect anything lavish; there is definitely no 15% rule like in the States or in the UK. A recent trend is to include service charge on the bill.
There are three different police forces: the Civil Guard, a military force in charge of customs and airport security, road traffic and security in small towns and villages and the surrounding countryside; the National Police, present in the cities and big towns of autonomous regions that do not have a regional police force, who normally deal with serious crime; and the municipal police, also present in the country's cities and big towns, who control traffic and intervene in general street safety.
Most police stations have an interpretation services, if not officers with language skills, and are of course open 24-hours a day, throughout the year.
As a rule, Spain is a safe place.
Emergency telephone numbers:
National Police: 091.
Local Police: 092.
Civil Guard: 062.
In case of fire, call 112, 080, or 085.
Credit card theft in Spain:
American Express Telephone Service Center: 902 375 637; Emergency Card Replacement: 917 437 000.
Mastercard Emergency Services: 900 971 231.
Diner's Club Tel: 902 401 112.
JCB Tel: 900 314 027 (Toll Free) or 915 400 910 Monday through Friday 9am-2pm and 3-5.30pm.
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