24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville

With just a touch of the Addams Family about its Mudéjar façade, the Alfonso XIII dominates Seville's historic centre. It was built to house super-rich visitors to the Great Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929. Unfortunately, that was upstaged by the even greater Wall Street Crash of the same year, and the empty hotel positively echoed. The Alfonso has come a long way since, winning awards and hosting such luminaries as Angelina Jolie.

You almost feel you're breaching several arcane codes of etiquette just by entering the imposing lobby. The staff are polite but formal, and no expense has been spared on the decor. Huge chandeliers, elaborate carvings and vibrant azulejos (glazed tiles) contrast with exposed geometric brickwork and sturdy wrought iron. Everything is done for effect, and that effect is one of strength and wealth. Fortunately, the central patio with its fountain and orange trees is altogether more delicate. Here, guests can drink cava with their breakfast or linger over pastries from a local artisan company, Cortadillo de Cidra.

The hotel has recently built a Piazza Martini over one of the garden terraces. This white and red bar, all cushions and sofas, is the one place where it's possible to sprawl and relax. The open-air pool is also a comfort zone, although beware; it's not heated. Pools in sultry Seville are primarily there to cool you down. The best thing about the Alfonso is the sense that you are in the centre not just of the city, but of the life of the city. The hotel has grown into the role envisaged by King Alfonso when he drew up its plans in 1916. Limousines pull up more frequently than airlines touch down at He`athrow. As they say locally: Aquí está el todo Sevilla – all Seville is here.

LOCATION

Hotel Alfonso XIII, San Fernando 2, Seville, Spain (00 34 95 491 7000; www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury).

It's not surprising that such a hotel occupies the best position in the city. The palatial cigarette factory where Carmen would have worked sits to the right of the Alfonso. Palacio de San Telmo is just behind, between the hotel and the Guadalquivir river. Three of Seville's top sights – the cathedral, the Alcazar palace and the Archivo de Indias – are five minutes' walk away. You can almost hear the other hotels complaining: "It's just not fair."

Time from international airport: allow 20 minutes from San Pablo airport and €20 (£15.40) in a metered taxi.

COMFORTABLE?

Back in 1929, bedrooms and public areas were designed to keep guests cool rather than comfy. There is virtually nowhere to curl up with a good book. In fact, it's difficult to imagine anyone curling up in the Alfonso. The beds are huge, dark and canopied. Rooms are shuttered against the heat. Because the hotel was begun in 1916, when lifts had yet to reach Seville, the best rooms are on the piano nobile, not on the top floor. Lifts have now been installed – as has air conditioning – but the cheaper rooms are still those with low ceilings and great views up on the third.

Freebies: All bathroom products are by Molton Brown with Eau d'Orange Verte sprays by Hermès.

Keeping in touch: Flatscreen TVs offer satellite channels, and there are broadband connections in bedrooms, charged at €30 (£23) for 24 hours. Wi-Fi (€5/£3.80 per hour) is available in the public areas.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms start at €273 (£210) per night, including breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Hotel Doña Maria (00 34 95 422 4990; www.hdmaria.com) was built in the 14th century by an adviser and confidant of King Peter the Cruel. It overlooks the cathedral and is close to the royal palace, to which it used to be linked by a secret passageway. Doubles from €188 (£145), including breakfast.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    ICE ICT: Lead Business Consultant

    £39,000: ICE ICT: Specific and detailed knowledge and experience of travel sys...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most