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Sevilla!

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We were warned by countless people not to go to Seville in August. “You’ll boil!” They cried. “It’s 41 degrees!” They said. They were right. We did boil – there’s no doubt that if you cannot handle Saharan temperatures, then the Andalucian capital in August is not for you. Half the restaurants we tried to go to were shut; and equal half of the Sevillians flee to a cooler Portugal. But if you can handle searing heat – albeit in three hour bursts, like we did – then there is no reason not to go to the frying pan of Europe, in early August. It means that you can actually see the sights, without being tailed by hoards of people. If you’re worried about the lack of atmosphere, don’t — every restaurant was still packed. There were still queues for all of the sights. Seville, like Rome, or London, will never be empty. It just felt a little bit more like ours, to explore. Caution: do not attempt a visit without a pool.

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Which brings me to Corral del Rey. Ahhh, Corral del Rey, with it’s glorious the plunge pool. We stayed at Corral del Rey on a press trip ticket (which meant that we had a four night complimentary stay, in return for a travel post on this very blog.) Corral del Rey was recommended to me by Lucy, whose blog post proved useful during our stay. Dubbed an upscale B&B, but really more like a chic hotel (at the higher end of Sevillian prices), we stayed in the penthouse suite, which had a terrace to eat your breakfast on (Corral del Rey are famous for their breakfasts, and for good reason) and a penthouse out back. Often when I go on holiday, I like to lie by the pool but rarely actually venture in to it. In Seville, I hunkered down in the plunge pool and didn’t move. Ever.

We cannot fault Corral del Rey in terms of service and comfort – the softest bed, the largest shower, the darkest blinds, the coolest air con; you know the drill, they got it – though I would caution that if you were to go at the same time as us, that you may want to opt for a hotel with a full-size pool. We are lucky to have the aforementioned plunge pool outside out suite, but it didn’t catch the sun until around 2pm, which meant we played plunge pool games with the rest of the hotel, battling for the central plunge and sun lounge area – which, at full capacity, accommodates no more than 3 people. My husband started getting up at 8am, just to secure a spot. This was the only down-side in an otherwise delicious stay (though do note: the requisite hum of the building works and city noise, does begin early; only an issue when Sevillian nights end late.)

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Unusually, we found ourselves really welded to our travel guide on this city break. In the past I have found Wallpaper* travel guides a little dry and understandably architecture focused, but the Seville one is really good. However, as with any travel guides, what has been omitted is often the most interesting and what has been included, is mysterious. For example, our guide recommended Sol y Sombre for dinner and whilst the service was good and the food was decent, the atmosphere was awful: all bright lights and no music. The opposite of what you think when you think ‘Seville’. The key is to always ask for the local hotspots in your hotel. The problem, of course, is that some of those hotspots – in this case Eslava, La Azotea and Contenedor, some of Seville’s most renowned restaurants – can be closed, out of season.

Seville is small and much of it can be enjoyed just from perusing the streets. A good thing, when you’re only hitting the heat for an afternoon each day (if you went in winter, you could easily condense much of the sights into 2 days.) As you can see from my pictures, much of the infamous Andalusian tiles, with their Moorish elements, can be viewed whilst meandering around. A quick check-list of recommendations, from me to you.

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To eat and drink

The food in Seville was exceptional; not dissimilar to Lisbon, in fact. It is also very good value. Tapas is the name of the game and in particular, they excel at inventive takes on the classic gazpacho, marinated fish, barbecued pork and beef and jamón Iberico.

Eslava (apparently)

Contenedor (apparently)

La Azotea (apparently again!)

En Rinconcillo – Seville’s oldest tapas restaurant

Petit Comte – ignore the fact that it’s a French name and you’re in Seville; it’s totally worth a visit. So you get a sense of the pricing, this was our most expensive dinner, ringing in at 83 Euros for a shit load of food and cocktails and one of the most delicious. I ordered two asparagus, which came on a giant plate and they were fleshier than a small cat. Does that make you feel ill? It shouldn’t.

Ovejos Negras – tapas bar and the best lunch we had

Mamarracha – also tapas, also delicious for lunch (you get used to sitting inside, with air-con and low-lighting, during the day; it becomes a vital pit-stop!)

Cafe Robles Laredo
– tiny with a beautiful interior and delicious ‘postres’ and small meals

Sal Gorda – they put strawberries in the gazpacho and flavour wise, it proved genius. Sal Gorda is just off Plaza de Alfalfa, so it’s a great location. Small, more modern than trad Sevillian, but delicious and great service and totally recommend

El Garlochi – I’m not sure I think this tiny bar with a ‘Versace meets Christian tat on acid’ interior near the Plaza de Alfalfa, is worth the hype, though the ancient, grumpy and very slow moving owner-cum-sole member of bar staff, is certainly amusing. I did, however, love the signature cocktail: a terrifyingly hued sangre de Cristo, which means ‘blood of Christ’ (a mixture of grenadine, rosé champagne and whisky) which I found oddly delicious, my husband hated, and which turned my tongue pink.

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To do

Flamenco, obviously! You can book a show, but in all honesty a two-hour show would have been too much without air con. Instead, we dropped by a giant warehouse, around midnight – of which the name, helpfully, escapes me – and watched as everyone dripped sweat into their drinks and a woman performed flamenco perfectly, in a full velvet ensemble, without even breaking a sweat. Incidentally, if you love flamenco garb, it’s worth dropping by Aurora Gavino‘s store, where you’ll be unlikely to afford anything (the dresses are from 500 Euros upwards, so this isn’t fancy dress) but, like me, may enjoy the intricately frilled sleeves and petticoats. The sheer weight of one dress is astounding.

Casa de Pilatos – An Andalusian palace which was built in the C16th (and is a mixture of Spanish and Italian renaissance design) is one of three beautiful spots in Seville (IMHO; see below for the other two) and brilliantly photogenic. It’s still occupied by the (ducal) Medinaceli family, though The Lonely Planet calls it “a poor man’s Alcazar”. Ouch. I’d recommend a tour, because we didn’t do this and I got pretty lost with the history and dropped my audio guide several times, because my paws were too sweaty.

Plaza de Espana, in Parque de Maria Luisa (oddly not in our travel guide, which is what I mean about doing further research; it was the most awe-inspiring spot we went to). A huge collection of governmental buildings, there are 52 alcoves dedicated, with each to a Spanish state and decorated in azulejos – Andalusian glazed tiles. You might have seen it in Star Wars. I haven’t, incidentally. 

Alacázar – one for the Game of Thrones‘ fans, the Alcaázar of Seville is a royal palace originally built by Moorish Muslim kings (there’s an incredible fusion of Islamic and Christian cultures and architecture, in Seville.) Unsurprisingly, for such a beautiful building – the upstairs is still used by the royal family as their official Sevillian residence – it’s a UNESCO heritage site. The garden is just as beautiful as the tile-work.

Trassiera – if we had more time, this hotel would by No. 1 on the hit list. Located a 30 min drive out of Seville, this private hotel up in the hills north of Seville is legendary for its individually decorated rooms and P&Q. I’ve gawped at it on Instagram and long to go.

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Thank you to Corral del Rey for the complimentary trip.

Clothing credits: vintage gingham playsuit, Rouje sandals and Blooming Dreamer small Birkin basket | Reformation Leila blouse, Levi’s shorts and Castaner espadrilles | Marysia Swim El Matador tunic, sandals and basket as before | Isabel Marant drew [sold out], espadrilles and basket same as before | Pandora Sykes x Hunza G Sharon blouse, Mansur Gavriel Azarro mules, shorts and basket as before | NK iMode x Selfridges Glamazon slip dress and mules as before.

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