The Monteray Palace has been in the same family since it was built in 1539. It’s still owned by the family and, in theory at least, they still use it today. But they are clearly using it at the rare times that it doesn’t have hoards of tourists tramping through it.
There’s no denying the building itself is a magnificent bit of architecture – gold stone creating crenelations and arches in an imposing façade. But when that adjective was repeatedly applied to rooms within the palace it was quite a stretch. The dining room, the living room, the kitchen were all, we were told, magnificent – they were not. They certainly contained some wonderful pieces of art but as rooms they were small and tired; I have stayed in hotels that have much more magnificent rooms.
The ‘magnificent’ kitchen has no bench space, no cupboards, and a tiny stove out of the 1980s for practical purposes. We were told it was still used today, and it might be – but that’s not where the profits from the paid visits are going.
All of this was put against a background in the tour of how wonderful the Dukes of Alba are and were and always would be. How lucky the servants were to have tiny single rooms in the basement. It was plea to conservatism and feudalism that fell on my increasingly deaf ears.
My only little bit of revolution, though, was to take a forbidden photo of the interior – here’s the ‘magnificent’ bathroom.