We came to the end of a narrow one-way alley, after having made our way through several of them; slowly and precautiously in our rental car much too big for these cobbled-stoned streets. Something felt off, as if cars were not really supposed to drive here even if they were allowed. Suddenly, I remembered the email from our hotel Corral del Rey, asking us not bring the car to the front door as parking space was very limited. Quickly, we unloaded our luggage, kid and myself, whilst the car continued to the parking garage, away from these stunning ancient streets where it obviously did not belong.
The sign reading ‘Corral del Rey’ was small and discreet, practically blending in with the beige wall. Behind heavy glass doors, the lobby that welcomed us—more of a cosy, well-designed living room area— already exuded quality and sense of detail out of the ordinary. Inside this historical casa, we were greeted with a kindness and helpfulness that characterised our entire 3-day stay at Corral del Rey* in Seville.
*Kindly note that the Corral del Rey had invited us to spend 3 nights complimentary. All other expenses regarding our trip were on ourselves.
Interior detals from Corral del Rey located in a 17th century house, just a 5 minute walk from sights such as the stunning Royal Palace (second photo), and Las Setas de Sevilla that lets you walk atop of the city (third photo)
• • •
‘Boutique hotels’ sprout all over the world, making the term somewhat unfit in describing anything. The Corral del Rey exceeds any expectation one might have of a ‘boutique’ or ‘luxury’ hotel. For me, an extraordinary hotel experience is not about the number of Michelin stars appointed to the in-house restaurant, or the spa area on the top floor of a massive building. More so, it is about the ability to make you feel welcome, even when you’re travelling with a curious toddler and arrive somewhat wrinkled after having travelled all morning.
It is about the attention to details in everything from decor and to the breakfast menu, as well of attentiveness of the staff. Our stay at Corral del Rey felt luxurious, yet understated and relaxed. As if we woke up in own home—a very beautiful, Spanish version of this, obviously—and had the place all to ourselves despite the fact that several other guests stayed there when we did. This feeling might have to do with the fact that we had been invited to stay at the Penthouse Suite, which of course added to our stellar experience. One large room divided in a bedroom and living room section, but also a private terrace, spacious bathroom with a tub and even a small private pool (unfortunately, too cold to frequent even if we are from the cold North). That being sad, I visited several of the rooms; each of them beautifully designed and spacious. Not to forget the rooftop pool and bar, making a hot summer in day in Seville slightly more bearable, I’m sure.
• • •
• • •
In many ways, the Corral del Rey much resembled the city; stunning, relaxed, and understated compared to Andalucia’s more well-known and touristy cities such as Málaga, Marbella and Alicante. Despite being Spain’s fourth-largest-city, Seville is easily explored by foot and we quickly fell for the small-town vibe where everyone greet each other in the street, and friends meet on the local square for afternoon tapas or beers. The city, often referred to as Spain’s oven, will get very hot during summer, and as two out of our little family of three are not crazy about scorching temperatures (I actually don’t mind the heat, but would always prefer being near the ocean), visiting in February turned out to be perfect. Temperatures were a comfortable 20°C and sunny, albeit a bit more chilly in the morning and at night.
Seville is small, all places are within walking distance from one another, and you will pass many attractions several times when walking around the city. A couple of days here is plenty of time to visit stunning sights such as the Royal Alcazar, the royal palaces and gardens; the Plaza de España; the Catedral de Sevilla, and the giant Metropol Parasol, also known as ‘the mushrooms’, La Setas de Sevilla, a large wooden structure by German architect Jürgen Mayer allowing you to walk atop of the city whilst taking in the views (feasible with a stroller as well!).
• • •
• • •
We hadn’t researched much before driving into Seville, and besides some of the most obvious attractions mentioned above, we just went along with the day as we felt like. Venturing out in the morning after a lovely breakfast at the hotel, finding a playground (luckily, plenty of those), then a nearby café for our usual ‘tostada’ break (white bread with butter and jam; very simple and nowhere near the best bread I’ve ever had, but a little vacation tradition we quickly came to love). Followed by a midday nap in the stroller for some of us, and a break in the sun for the rest. I always enjoy spending time in cities that have a laid-back vibe, where you don’t feel like you have to squeeze in a million sights and attractions. Naturally, I always have some places of interest I’d like to see, but especially when travelling with a kid, I a feeling of ‘localhood’, relaxedness, finding a little café on a square for morning coffee and repeating all days (does this mean I am getting old?). Seville was perfect for just this, and the square Plaza de Alfalfa close to Corral del Rey had several restaurants, an ice cream shop and playground, and locals meeting up after work.
In fact, the Alfalfa neighbourhood was my favourite one; cosy, relaxed, and with an abundance of seriously stunning architecture with an attention to detail omnipresent in all of Seville. This neighborhood helped us feel even more at home and welcome in the city, together with our lovely stay at Corral del Rey.
• • •
— Our stay in Seville was complimentary. Thank you Corral del Rey for having us —
To be honest, we mostly chose our dinners after what restaurant was nearby when the kid got hungry, making our culinary experiences a little less thought-out. However, the city is full of tapas bars, and many serve solid meals. Some restaurants that were recommend to me; Spala, Plato Plató, El Rinconcillo, No-lugar The Art Company
Un Gato En Bicicleta | Combined book-store, antique shop and café in Alfalfa L’Andalusí | Artisan bakery close to Metropol Parasol, ideal for cakes to to Plaza de Alianza | A charming square close to the Royal Palaces with a couple of cafés to choose from Torch Coffee Roasters | Seville’s version of a third-wave coffee shop serving lunch and cakes as well
Reál Alcázar de Sevilla | The Royal palaces and gardens, absolutely worth a visit despite the queues Metropol Parasol | Large wooden structure on a main square with a panoramic walk atop the city Plaza de España | Government buildings on the historic plaza built in Regionalism architectural style Catedral de Sevilla | Roman-Catholic cathedral, largest Gothic church in the world
Corral del Rey | A luxurious and welcoming small hotel right in the charming Alfalfa-neighborhood