It was a pleasantly warm summer afternoon when the friendly taxi driver delivered us to our much-anticipated hotel in historic Seville – the 18th century Palacio de Villapanés. The street was unassuming and there was no indication of a hotel at 31 Calle Santiago, just a carved stone archway leading into a cool entry foyer, black and white marble stripes underfoot. This diagonal flooring led us up coral coloured steps between steel grey columns – all vein-rippling marble magnificence – through inner wrought iron gates to the palace patio. A central fountain surrounded by potted palms of various lush types added music and colour to the black and white marble checked floor and the cream archways and columns around the perimeter.
We were greeted by smiling faces and brought into the reception room off the patio where check-in was pleasantly uneventful and glasses of iced water appeared in our hands. Our luggage was whisked away to our room while our concierge gave us a brief tour of the premises, ensuring we knew where the pool, spa and various sitting rooms and terraces were. Our executive room was 50sqm with numerous windows looking down into the spacious patio – there was even a good view from the large black and turquoise tiled bathroom (the colours and diagonal patterns more than hinted at the Mudéjar history of the city).
No expense was spared in refurbishments and ‘mod cons’ in this former palace – very expensive finishes, fixtures of the highest quality, great design both in aesthetics and functionality. In fact, every room, every public space of Villapanés was the perfect marriage of contemporary style and history – everything was tasteful and gorgeous. We were impressed enough with our executive room, but the individually named and decorated suites were truly spectacular! We were lucky enough to see three of the suites – Torreón, Sevilla and Maestro. Each suite was graced with individual, original pieces of furniture, creating uniqueness in each, but an overall cohesiveness in the palacial design.
Suite Torreón, sits at the very top of the palacio (as the name would suggest – the tower), its bedroom resting under a vaulted domed ceiling and opening to a private terrace with magnificent views over rooftops and bell towers. For a room with such uninterrupted sightlines, it is surprising how private this suite is – neither the numerous long windows nor the terrace are under the scrutiny of close neighbours. The star of this bathroom’s sumptuous design is the solid 13th century marble bath – which had been a complete nightmare to install in this top floor accommodation!…But so worth it!
Suite Sevilla has an enticing sitting room, textured taupe lounge and modern easy chairs, parquet floors in a mixed hardwood, dark contemporary bookcases with inset lighting for the object d’arts on the top shelves, and ceiling high windows with flowing gossamer drapes that move gently with the breeze of the open window. But when the weather gets too warm, there is always the very effective airconditioning to cool things down in the Sevillian summer.
The first feature that draws your eye in Suite Maestro is the authentic marble mantelpiece – a reminder of the 18th century palace that once was. This piece really sets the tone for this cosy suite, whose large windows frame the picturesque view across Seville. While our experience of these glorious suites were only fleeting glimpses, I aim to return and indulge in a much more thorough manner!
In terms of indulgence, the one thing that we didn’t get to experience was the Spa & Wellness Centre. We did pay a visit to the ‘other worldly’ space in the basement, complete with starry night ceiling, lounges lit with pink and peppermint rays, and a variety of aqua treatment options available, but so many other diversions occupied our limited time in Seville.
While Palacio de Villapanés is not in the very centre of town, it’s less than a 15 minute walk to Seville Cathedral, depending on which route you take. Our preference was to walk through the old Jewish Quarter – Santa Cruz. Its labyrinthine streets and alleys were a charming place to lose oneself (which we did…often!). But the walk to everything we wanted to see meant that we got to know the city quite well in our three-day stay.
After exploring this enticing, addictive city every morning, and finding some delicious restaurant for lunch, it was always such a joy (and a relief!) to head back to the cool haven of Villapanés in the afternoon for a siesta. The big decision of the afternoon became about which sitting area we would ensconce ourselves in for a bit of a read of the latest best seller. Several indoor and outdoor locations primed for relaxation provided us with a change of scenery every afternoon. Once we had settled in our chair or lounge of choice, cool drinks were delivered with accompanying snacks and before we knew it, it was time to think about heading out again in the evening for some tapas, a flamenco show and dinner. When the thought of leaving our oasis didn’t appeal, the dining room, Los Rincones del Marqués, in the old wine cellar with white walls, high ceilings and soaring arches, more than met our needs, with its perfect “fusion of Sevillian gastronomy.”
One of the outstanding aspects of staying at Palacio de Villapanés is the staff. Their commitment to providing exceptional service in all areas of hosting their guests was commendable – and all done with charm and apparent ease. Of course it’s pleasing to be greeted with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco and snacks in a hotel room on check-in, accompanied by a hand written welcome note, but it really makes your stay memorable to have that level of thoughtfulness continue throughout the length of your visit. And every service is completed with a genuine smile. It is this attention to detail, competence and friendliness that makes you want to revisit Palacio de Villapanés, not just the splendour of the hotel…although, I am sure the temptation of staying in the Suite Torreó would work for me!