HOTEL Corral del rey
Review by Fiona Flores Watson
Why should I stay there?
Right in the historic centre of Seville, yet on a quiet street, this superb, luxurious boutique hotel spread across several traditional Sevillano mansions offers faultless service and sumptuous décor, from monogrammed linens to Lutron lighting, and all-round high-tech wizardry.
What kind of person stays there?
Fans of low-key luxe, who like being close to the action, who enjoy their gadgets, and who relish all kinds of activities - gastronomic, sporting and cultural, both in the city and further afield, which the hotel can arrange. It's a celeb favourite, but they're too discreet to name any names.
Where is it?
Bang in the buzzing heart of Seville - five minutes from the cathedral and Alcazar, and close to shops and restaurants. Don't even attempt to drive there as the narrow streets and one-way systems are fiendishly tricky to negotiate; if you have a car, leave it in the Jardines de Murillo underground car park. Santa Justa train station (AVE to Madrid, Cordoba, Malaga, Barcelona) is 10 minutes away and San Pablo airport 30 minutes.
What's it like?
Three meticulously converted 17th-century Sevillano houses with patios, boasting Roman pillars and original wood doors and beams. Eclectic ethnic-chic décor features wood carvings and statues from Burma, Morocco and India. Contemporary art hangs on the walls; the vibe is stylish without the fashion-dictated hard edges or garish splashes of colour often found in boutique hotels. Tech-savvy, it has the fastest and most reliable WIFI we've ever used in a hotel (and free), plus a top-of-the-range Bluetooth speaker. Corral del Rey is co-owned and run by two very charming and knowledgeable Anglo-Spanish brothers, Anthony and Patrick Reid, who are often on site. They also have a sister property, Hacienda de San Rafael, about 50km south of Seville towards Jerez - each room has a small tin of the farm's olive oil for guests to take home, a nice touch. A plunge pool on the roof terrace provides relief from the searing summer heat; there's also an honesty bar there.
What are the rooms like?
The 17 rooms and suites (6 in the original building with patio, 11 in the two annexes across the road) are decorated in an elegant, understated palette of taupe and sage, in varying shapes and layouts (rooms in the annexe, and first-floor of the main building, have higher ceilings). Choose from a superior or deluxe room, junior suite, or pool terrace suite; each room has a super-comfortable bed (some have extra pull-out beds for children). We love the flat-screen TV with satellite channels on an extending angled arm, so you can watch it wherever you are in the room. In some rooms there's a Bose Bluetooth speaker, handy for listening to your favourite Spotify playlist or digital radio station, while a CD and DVD player is discreetly hidden in a cream-coloured cupboard. Feel pampered in the huge walk-in rain-showers of cream-coloured marble or limestone, some of which have spectacular glass walls overlooking a light well with original bricks; most suites have bathtubs. Annexe rooms feature another clever cupboard hiding a microwave, Mussetti coffee machine, fridge and sink. The minibar is stocked with Cadiz wine, manzanilla sherry, champagne and cava (mini and full-size), spirits and mixers. For the ultimate in glamour, the penthouse has its own private wrap-around terrace with plunge-pool. There are also two pool terrace suites, with stairs leading up from the bedroom to a terrace with a small plunge pool; room 17 has the larger outside space, with a shaded corner sofa, plus an eyrie with daybed.
What should I eat there?
The restaurant, in the main building, serves simple tapas like soup and croquettes; if you fancy a snack in your room, you can order a plate of jamon serrano or cheese, but you're stepping distance from Seville's superb tapas scene so we suggest you head off and explore - the hotel has a good list of recommended bars and restaurants. Breakfast is excellent, served in your room, in the dining room, or on the bijou roof terrace: freshly-squeezed orange juice, tea or coffee, pastries, toast with jam, or cheese and ham, fresh fruit and cereal; cooked eggs and jamon iberico are both extra.
What should I see and do in the area?
Wander around neighbouring barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter, and marvel at the nearby gothic Cathedral, and the mudejar Alcazar palace. Browse characterful shops bursting with hand-made ceramic tiles, fans and embroidered shawls. The hotel can organise personal yoga and massage sessions, bike or tapas tours, cooking classes, and wine tastings in the city; and further afield, horse-riding, golf, sailing, visits to bull-breeding farms or safaris in Doñana National Park. Ask, and it shall be yours.
Plans are afoot to expand further, including a larger roof terrace with full-sized pool.
Hotel Corral del Rey,
Calle Corral del Rey, 12,