What's The Plan?
We're going to Seville, duh. Land of flamenco dancing, ancient palaces and a whole lot of sun. So much sun in fact, that even the locals summer holidays are in Seville. Specifically, we're staying at the latest addition to Marriott's snazzy upscale Autograph Collection, hotel Fontecruz Sevilla.
So What's It Like?
Transformed from a XVI (that's 16th to you and I) century palace into a super chic boutique hotel in the heart of Seville, this hotel pretty much has everything you could ever need for a sneaky city break. Hammam spa? Check. Rooftop pool? Double check. Terrace cocktail bar with views of the cathedral? Ok, check, check, check! Carved wooden ceilings and wrought iron window coverings are just a few of the original features from the old palace adding a much appreciated sense of history.
What's That Smell?
The hotel smells amazing. Familiar and comforting, every time you enter the lobby you feel like you’re coming home. Of course it's a signature scent for the Fontecruz Sevilla incorporating local Seville orange blossom. Obviously.
And The Rooms?
With just 40 unique suites, the Fontecruz is miles away from the corporate cold chain hotels we all love to hate. Purple velvet armchairs, mirrored finishes and acres of space mean rooms are comforting but impressive; a decadent escape from the bustling city centre.
What About The View?
It's cracking. With all the rooftops so close together you feel like you're at the heart of the city minus the noise from the streets. Rising above the hubbub, the city's cathedral dominates the skyline whilst local rooftops adorn themselves with bird cages and exotic flowers.
I'm Hungry, What's For Dinner?
Delicious traditional Spanish delights await you at the hotel's Morrison's restaurant. Don't be distracted by the old hollywood wall of fame, food here is authentic Seville through and through. Everything from classic Spanish wine and manchego cheese to moreish slices of iberico ham and ginormous mushrooms chargrilled with local peppers and sea salt. Do as we do and forget dessert, ham is just too important here.
Anyone For Drinks?
Take the lift (or if you're somehow feeling sprightly after so much food, the stairs) up to the rooftop bar. Overlooking the impressive city skyline, the rooftop is perfect for a romantic moment with the boyf or just a great cocktail with the girls. With happy hour on Mojitos and Caipirinhas everyday, this is the best bar in town. Just as well we're staying in the building…
Against All The Odds, It's The Next Day And We're Hungry Again…
Check out the breakfast buffet downstairs at the hotel restaurant. A cheese lover's dream, this is a breakfast you're going to want to take some time over. Fresh local fruit, poached eggs to order, adorable bite size pastries and have we mentioned the homemade marmalade? Using the local Seville bitter oranges, the hotel handmakes its own jam, oh and the lemon cake is made with the neighbour's lemons. Breakfast literally grown on your doorstep.
We're Full But Honestly, We Still Feel A Bit Delicate…
Get yourself down to the in house spa and zone out. Set in a refurbished wine cellar, the stripped back stone walls are a refreshing take on spa chic. Book yourself in for a massage treatment for two and then sweat it out in the adjoining hamman. Don't worry, the cool stonework and glass doors take the edge off the heat so you it never gets too hot to handle. And anyway, after a massage that good you'll be far too relaxed to care. Cool off in the rooftop pool complete with panoramic views over the city. Not bad at all.
All That Relaxing Has Worked Up An Appetite…
Head out to the streets of Seville for some good traditional tapas. It's genuinely really hard to find a duff restaurant here and we wouldn't recommend you try! Despite having a thriving tourist culture, the city has remained surprisingly tack free with authentic restaurants appearing on every corner. Do as the locals do and take a late lunch around 2pm and linger for as long as you like. Here, the life is in the streets, everyone meets at bars and restaurants to chill out and enjoy good food and honestly, when the weather is this good you can't blame them. A glass of manzanilla and fresh calamari is the order of the day here. Work of your lunch with a wander around the winding cobbled streets and discover local street art hidden round every corner.
FUN FACT: The word tapas first came about when locals stopping for a cheeky glass of wine at a tavern used to ask for a slice of manchego cheese and iberico ham to put on top of their wine glass to keep the flies away. Tapa in Spanish means to cover et voila! Enter tapas as we know and love it today.
So We Took Three Hours To Eat Lunch But Now We Fancy Some Culture, Where Are We Going?
With so much culture condensed in one city you'll need a couple of days to get round it all but here's our roundup of the must-see sites in Seville:
1. The Cathedral
The largest gothic cathedral in the world is bound to be pretty epic, right? Right! Built on the remains of a mosque when the city was conquered by Christians in the 16th century. With a courtyard full of Seville's instantly recognisable bitter orange trees, a main altar covered in 2000kg of gold leaf and its very own legend (stories say King Ferdinand III rode his horse to the top of the cathedral tower to view the city he had conquered) this is so much more than your regular British church.
2. The Real Alcazar Palace
Officially the royal residence when his majesty is in town, the Real Alcazar is not to be missed. And we mean it! If you're looking for cultural sites that are the opposite of boring, then this is it. Covered floor to ceiling in hand-carved wood and tiles, the whole building is an ode to Spanish craftsmanship. And tile envy. Game Of Thrones is currently being filmed there and HBO isn't the only one to notice its impressive interiors with films such as Kingdom of Heaven and Star Wars setting scenes there as well. If you need us, we'll be photobombing Cersei in the courtyard. And trust, your Instagram will thank us for this one.
3. The 'Mushroom' Sculpture
Costing just over €36 million to build, the affectionately named 'mushroom' sculpture very nearly bankrupt Seville. But we reckon it was totally worth it. A contemporary structure in an extremely traditional city, the 'mushroom' stands alone above the tavern roofs below. Super cool looking and at just €3 to walk the skyway and toast the view with a drink of your choice, the 'mushroom' wins our holiday on a budget award.
TOP TIP: If you're venturing out for the day, why not take a horse and carriage and go full on tourist cheese on toast? A bottle of bubbly to toast the sites adds that extra 'I'm totally in a movie' feeling.
It's Our Last Night, What Are We Doing?
Flamenco dancing of course! Well, watching it anyway. Pay a visit to the only flamenco dancing museum in Spain for a world class (read: not cheesy) flamenco performance. Authentically Spanish and truly impressive, you won't be alone when you're already googling UK flamenco classes on your phone.
Sounds Amazing, How Do I Book?
Book your room at the Fontecruz Sevilla HERE.
By George Driver/@iamgdriver