Through the arches to the Alcazar…
Through the arches to the Alcazar…
Nights in Sevilla involve Flamenco dancing…
A tour through sunny Seville from Conde Nast Traveler
Once the tourist crowds have left September becomes Summer’s last hurrah!
If you’re like me, you are itching to go away again somewhere by mid August. But that is the busiest time of year for so many European destinations and the last thing you want is to be body checking your way through a sea of people. So if you can hold on just a while longer… long enough for families to return, kids go back to school and high season prices to go down, a September getaway might just be the prefect tonic to get you through the colder months ahead. Here are some suggestions to get you started…
Madrid – A sophisticated metropolitan city with sunshine and more importantly tapas bars! The appealing historic center and the open spaces makes it a great combination of culture both indoors and out. Whether it be taking in a museum or taking in the sun at the Plaza Mayor with a glass of sangria, Madrid makes for a warm cultivated break.
Seville – A two hour train ride from Madrid takes you to the quintessential Spanish city of Sevilla. Decorative tiles, romantic architecture and colourful streets capture the true spirit of Spain alongside its breathtaking cathedral and Plaza de España. Have drinks and tapas at El Rinconcillo before taking in a flamenco show.
Ostuni, Puglia – Sea breezes touch this white washed hill town. Puglia is where Italy meets Greece sharing that same blue Aegean sea. And not far from this sea, surrounded by olive trees is the White City of Ostuni, an almost fairy tale like town with charming small cafes and mystical winding streets. It is quiet, laid back yet stylish. The boutique hotel Relais La Sommitá offers a chic stay with a wonderful fine dining restaurant Cielo that makes it easy to sit back over a glass of wine and look out to the sea in the distance.
Taormina – A perfect late summer escape with the temperatures still quite warm, the seacoast and a charming town to walk in. For cooling off, excellent granita can be found at Bam Bar or an aperitivo on the piazza. Enticing restaurants and choice local wines make it a substantial getaway for foodies, while a selection of refined hotels make it easy to keep everything within walking distance.
Rome – is always a good idea but in late September when the Italians have resigned themselves that beach days are over and normal life continues there is a relaxed hum of people getting about their business just not too quickly yet. Yes there are still tourists but a few less so the line for gelato at Giolitti is not as long if you want an afternoon treat. The weather still allows for a lazy afternoon prosecco in the gardens of the Hotel de Russie while autumn fashion fills the shops in anticipation. A bit of both worlds and changing seasons.
Andalusian style and luxury in the heart of Seville
Perfectly located and within walking distance of many of the important sights of Seville makes the Alfonso XIII very appealing in its ease for enjoying the many sights of the historic city as well as being a fashionable place to stay. From the minute you walk in there is this sense of grandeur with its classic Andalusian architecture of archways, open garden and painted tiles. This is Spain as one imagines from the brochures and the hotel delivers the ultimate visual experience. The hotel is at once expansive yet relaxed at the same time, much like the city of Seville itself, a lot to offer but in no rush. It would be easy to be overwhelmed with its majestic public spaces but the charm of sitting in the garden courtyard with the fountain and the overall comfort make it a place hard to leave to explore the city. Yet if you stayed in the hotel most of the day you’d be very satisfied with having experiences a bit of Sevilla.
Having been excited by the public spaces I was expecting a lot from the rooms, which were pleasant, comfortable and in a slightly contemporary take on the Andalusian theme and decor. Quiet spacious, especially for a European hotel, but quite dark with only one small window for the entire room, and we were staying in one of the more expensive rooms. We had a bit of a view but for the price I would have expected large windows, a balcony even to admire it. Bathrooms were quite fashionable in black and white striping but I do not understand luxury hotels having these generic small bathtubs/showers. You go through all the trouble to bring in details but then don’t apply it everywhere in the room. On a more positive note the beds were quite comfortable and there was great wardrobe space.
The service was friendly and attentive while not overbearing. Starting with the concierge desk which was very knowledgeable regarding local attractions and events and quick and happy to book anything you may want to do. We got great recommendations on where to see impressive Flamenco dancing and the restaurant recommendations were well chosen and not run of the mill tourist spots. Service throughout was excellent, the rooms always made up quickly.
The breakfast buffet was a treat! Serving classic brunch favourites along with local dishes. There was also two restaurants in the hotel, a more formal restaurant, and Ena by Carles Abellán which served contemporary Spanish cuisine. But really the best place to hang out was the elegant American bar with its dark blue and brass art decor styling and more importantly its outstanding cocktails! Definitely take the time to browse their drinks menu, many of their scrumptious cocktails are Spanish themed and include local flavours. One even has jamon Iberico as a garnish.
Warmer months the pool and back garden are open. In the middle of the city this is a real treat and after a day in the hot sun a welcomed option. Even if just sitting in the shade of the garden sipping a bit of sangria.
And the location… You can’t beat it. Very close to many places from the Giralda to the picturesque Santa Cruz district and The Alcazar and Cathedral are within sight of the hotel.
Overall I quite enjoyed my stay at the Alfonso XIII, the only let down were the dark rooms which I expect better from a luxury establishment. Other than that, was quite satisfied and had an easy, relaxed stay. The Hotel Alfonso XIII allows you to experience a lot or the historic charms of Seville within the residence itself and gives you a stay with very Andalusian flavour. You know from the minute you walk in that you are truly in Spain and it makes it all the harder to leave.
Pros: Gorgeous surroundings and fabulous location. It doesn’t get much better for a city stay in terms of how close you are to places. The classic Spanish tiles in all the public areas of the hotel make it a truly lovely and uniquely Spanish.
Cons: Room was dark and with all the beauty of the hotel you would want to be able to experience that in your room as well.
Service: No complaints here, very good, professional and on top of everything. Concierge desk knew the inside track of the best places to go and were happy to discuss and set up everything.
Rooms: Were comfortable and stylish but as discussed in the cons, very dark and because of that a bit depressing, especially in such a sunny city. And the small bathtub doesn’t cut it for this type of hotel.
Extras: The building itself. Just a treat.
Hotel Alfonso XIII San Fernando 2, Sevilla, 41004, España
Please note, I paid for my own stay and my review is based on my personal experiences while staying at the Hotel Alfonso XIII