Stay The Night: Hospes Palacio del Bailio, Cordoba

Cordoba's first five-star hotel blends modernity with hints of an older pre-Christian Spain. Amar Grover soaked up the history

One of the brightest stars in the Andalusian firmament, the city of Cordoba, together with Seville and Granada, has long been one of that region's prime destinations.

It's home to a compact yet picturesque old quarter and a clutch of monuments dating from Roman times and the heyday of Al-Andalus. Above all else, this small city is dominated by the astonishing Mezquita, Moorish Spain's largest and most spectacular mosque, which was turned into a cathedral in 1523.

The Palacio del Bailio, or Bailiff's Palace, has a fair stab at reflecting the city's venerable history. The words "Bailiff" and "Palace" make odd, if not disconcerting, bedfellows but the 16th-century mansion's origins lie with two noble families and the Lord of Aguilar, a dignitary of the ancient Order of Malta. Today's visitor might be more swayed by this being Cordoba's pioneering five-star hotel, as well as its impressive synthesis of heritage and hospitality.

Tucked away in a little knot of streets just south of the Plaza de Colon, this discreet property is an odd blend of old and new. The hotel's ancient fabric has almost entirely been remodelled and updated within. One part the renovations couldn't touch was a Roman mosaic floor lurking in the basement and this alone makes the mansion an official Site of Cultural Interest. Once restored, the owners installed a glass floor in the main dining hall – a neat yet practical bit of architectural theatre.

Most of the public interiors have a modern palette of cream walls and contemporary lighting, and it feels as if several designers had a hand here to somewhat random effect. One truly memorable and thoroughly original part of the hotel is the elongated "Neo-arab" library or study (though there are just a few books) with decorative plasterwork and arabesque motifs that beautifully recall Cordoba's vital Moorish heritage. The main courtyard is a joy, with a formal garden and seating shaded by citrus trees and high walls. There's also a decent pool, essential in fiery Cordovan summers.

The rooms

Somehow 53 rooms and suites are made to fit in this modest-sized building – all are different and fall under five categories ranging from Dreamer's to a huge Grand Loft Suite. The cheaper rooms tend towards modern styling while the others have a distinctly old-world heritage feel. All have quality linen and extremely comfortable beds, plus plasma TVs with DVD players. Inevitably some ground-floor Dreamer's rooms are darker than others and you may not necessarily feel you're awakening in sun-drenched Anadalusia. Bathrooms feature all the usual amenities except, bizarrely, what some might feel is a practical sink – mine was minimalist, with no room to conveniently place toiletries or knick-knacks though it's hardly going to ruin one's day or stay.

The food and drink

Senzone is the hotel's tapas bar as well as restaurant. The former comprises a long barrel-vaulted chamber in the basement with its own street entrance. Beige walls, rose-pink lampshades, halogen spotlights and downlights, and framed matador pictures lend a pleasing contemporary feel. The restaurant has a separate dining room, though hotel guests tend to be served in the main lofty dining hall with the glass floor (which is also used for breakfast). The food – a sort of modern Andalusian-Euro fusion – is excellent with plenty of pork and fish though some of the menu's English translation is unintentionally awry (cheese juice anyone?). Starters range from ¤13 to ¤27, mains from ¤20 to ¤30, deserts at ¤8.50; there's a seven-course tasting menu or a three-course meal for ¤60 per person.

The extras

The Bodyna Spa has several treatment rooms beside a small courtyard offering massages, facials, body treatments (choose from Javan, Moroccan, Thai and Indian "rituals") and waxing. In the basement, the original vaulted Roman baths have been adapted and modernised with three pools of different temperatures.

The access

Most public areas and some rooms enable wheelchair access. Children are welcome – no charge for those under six years old, free cots on request, extra beds available.

The bill

Double rooms from ¤150 per night plus taxes excluding breakfast which is ¤20 per person.

The address

Palacio del Bailio, Ramirez de las Casas Deza 10-12, 14001 Cordoba (00 34 957 498 993; hospes.com).

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
  • Get to the point
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: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living