The Hotel Alfonso XIII was a non-negotiable stop on our two-week trip through Spain. I remember seeing it under renovation when I passed by a few years ago, and I was determined to return with Megan once it re-opened. The hotel grounds remind me of a wealthy estate and are centrally located just a few blocks from the Cathedral and Alcazar.
Trip Report Index:
- Two Weeks in Spain
- Is the British Airways Travel Together Ticket a Good Deal?
- British Airways Concorde Room – New York
- British Airways First Class – JFK to LHR
- Transferring at London Heathrow
- Le Meridien Barcelona
- Places You Need to Visit in Barcelona
- Restaurants in Barcelona
- Vueling Airlines – Barcelona to Granada
- AC Palacio de Santa Paula, Granada
- Visiting the Alhambra
- Traveling by Train and Bus from Granada to Seville
- Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville
- AVE Preferente Class Seville to Madrid
- Day trip to Cordoba
- Westin Palace Hotel Madrid
- British Airways Concorde Room – London
Originally constructed in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition, the Alfonso XIII is now owned by the City of Seville and managed by Starwood as one of its Luxury Collection properties. Historic, yes. Tired and worn? Definitely not. This is one of the best hotels I’ve had the pleasure to stay at, and I would love to return. There was even a woman during check-in who was pleading to extend her stay.
Rates can be pricey if you don’t book in advance. I remember seeing lots of availability at around €199 up to a few weeks before arrival, at which point it started climbing to €350 and higher before selling out. So, lock in a refundable rate if you’re still unsure about your dates. (Award nights start at 20,000 points; the hotel may be nice, but if you can pay €199, then that’s a poor redemption value.)
As mentioned in a previous post, we had the foolish idea to walk from the San Bernardo train station. It’s not such a bad idea if the weather is good, but I recommend you take a taxi or use the modern tram system that stops just outside the hotel.
Walking up the driveway, we were greeted by two bellmen who took our bags and ushered us upstairs to the foyer. The actual check-in area is small and separated from the other common areas, with just a few tall desks and several columns that tend to block your view of the staff. On the opposite side is a business center if you need to do some work during your visit.
We booked through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts since Megan has an Amex Platinum Card, and our rate included complimentary breakfast each morning, free WiFi, one lunch or dinner during our stay, and a possible upgrade. Although the hotel was full, I was pleased with our room on the second floor, which had a small balcony overlooking the Jardines del Christina. Adding my SPG number to the room to receive additional Gold benefits took some time, but it earned us a few coupons for complimentary drinks in the courtyard.
The agent then came around the counter and led us up to our room, familiarizing us with the light switches and large window shade. The elevator was also quite a treat. You have to call it and then open a big wooden door to walk inside. Mirrors, glass sconces, and iridescent tile throughout the hotel add to the unique experience.
Our room had a long but dark entryway with a large closet. One end opened up to the bathroom while the other led to the bedroom. These doors were big, heavy beasts and remind me of a time when things were built to last. Still, the WiFi was fast; you won’t feel stuck in the last century.
Although the bed was set up as two twins, we decided to keep things that way and enjoy the quirky European style. The big padded headboard was flanked by lamps, reading lights, and additional switches and outlets on either side so we didn’t have to hunt for anything.
Near the hallway was a generous desk with several old photographs reflecting the era of the hotel’s construction, and a chair in the corner offered space to read. However, the hotel has lots of open areas on each floor, in the hallways, and in the gardens around the hotel if you want a quiet spot to relax.
The window has large curtains that you can pull back or close, but to really block out the light you’ll want to use the exterior shutter, which can be raised or lowered with a switch. The balcony was just large enough to step out onto, but not more. It was still better than many other rooms. If you’re traveling with a group, some suites on the upper floors can be combined and come with a large outdoor patio.
Our bathroom was truly unique. Alternating bands of white and copper tile with blue trim made it feel like we had stepped into the Roaring 20s. Fluffy robes and towels made Megan’s day, and I always like double sinks. Toiletries were merely average — even the packaging was unremarkable — but I did like the big bar of grey soap, which produced a nice lather and was at least different.
This was the only hotel during our August-September trip when we had the opportunity to use a swimming pool, so naturally we spent every afternoon here. It was properly chlorinated, unlike some that reek of bleach. Each afternoon we’d lay out a couple of the plush, monogrammed pool towels and enjoy a few drinks before taking a dip. If you order lunch, it comes on a real silver tray! I recommend the club sandwich — even Megan agreed it was one of the best we’ve had.
A few people have written reviews that complain about the loud music. I’d agree up to a point, but I didn’t find it obnoxious. It’s just louder, perhaps, than you would expect at a hotel of this caliber. Most people were reading or napping, and there was no need for that much background noise. Along the walls of the property were a bar, another restaurant, and a small building that housed the gym — which of course I never used.
Other than the pool, the hotel is surrounded by a few gardens, a parking lot on one side, the driveway on another, and an outdoor patio that you can use during breakfast or in the evening when the Ena bar/restaurant is open. Ena was right below our window, and while we could hear the music it did not stay open very late. During the day there was no problem at all.
We probably ate at the hotel more often than necessary since Seville was our “vacation from vacation.” (Anyone who’s traveled for two weeks or more probably knows what I mean.) Breakfast each morning was served buffet style in a large banquet hall off the main floor, though most people proceeded outside to eat on the patio. It had a very broad selection, but like most buffets I though the hot entrees were subpar. Definitely stop by the omelet station if you have time.
The courtyard itself is a good spot for lunch or evening cocktails. We had lunch there shortly after arriving and decided the Alfonso has the best sangria in all of Spain. You’ll pay for it — it’s also the most expensive sangria in all of Spain — but it is worth it.
If you want to escape the sun, the courtyard is surrounded by an inner hallway with more chairs and tables. Half of this is converted to the main restaurant at night, where we enjoyed our complimentary dinner. The sommelier recommended a great bottle of wine, and the servers in white jackets had a sense of humor even as they delivered very professional service. The entire meal was delicious, even though the appetizer looked a little odd (we called it a “squid pancake,” though really it was blintz with eels).
A pianist plays until about 9:30 or 10 at night, right next to the Bar Americano. It has even more bling than our bathroom, and good drinks to match. Although mostly empty during our stay, we ran into a tour group that was following the same route through Spain as we were (even all the same hotels) and chatted about the pictures of old Hollywood stars who had filmed movies in Seville. You might recognize the Alcazar from more recent hits like Game of Thrones.
We had a great stay, and I highly recommend you consider the Hotel Alfonso XIII if you plan to visit Seville. It’s certainly not the cheapest option in the city. However, it’s probably the most historic, the most luxurious, and the most memorable place you can stay. It’s a destination like any other, even if you only stop by for drinks in the courtyard.