The Palacio del Bailio (one of the prestigious Hospes hotel group) is an intimate and luxurious hotel in the importantly historic city of Córdoba. It has a modern, plush core within the antique grandeur of old Spain. In fact, it’s not just the 16th century palace that provides the gravitas of history, the Roman ruins under the floor of the dining room and the baths in the basement (conveniently located for the spa) authenticate the glimpses back in time.
Our arrival took us through the stone archway of what was once the carriage entrance, which now leads directly to a paved courtyard. The café tables and chairs and scattered pot plants provide a lovely breakfast alternative in the sun or a quiet spot for a late afternoon aperitif. The unfussy reception area borders the atrium dining room of the hotel and provides check in for more than one party at a time with space and discretion.
Being a five star hotel, the Palacio del Bailio provides all that is expected with such a rating. The basement tapas bar (accessed from the street for non-guests) has a cool, unpretentious vibe – contemporary flair with hints of history in the artwork and framed photographs. The dining room has both winter and summer rooms, and as it was summer during our visit, the soaring atrium with glass floor revealing the Roman ruins was in use.
There is a large range of accommodation options at the palacio to suit most budgets. We stayed in a ‘Dreamer’ room, which is their standard, “entry level” accommodation (and at 22sqm is spacious enough for a short stay). The décor is understated, yet extremely tasteful, with a good-sized, well-designed bathroom, king bed and the usual amenities of a 5 star hotel. We were fortunate enough to be shown some of the suites – all individually and classically designed. My favourite was the ‘Don Quijote’ suite – a large oval room with original 19th century wall murals depicting the story of Cervantes’ hero, battling his windmills and demons. The convenience of its location within the complex is perfect – just off the wide corridor that leads past the Mudejar library to either the spa or the pool and patio, whichever takes your fancy.
The location of the hotel is out of the very centre of town, but only a 15 minute walk to the Mezquita and many restaurant options; certainly close enough for a stroll back “home” after lunch for a swim followed by a siesta, and maybe even a massage – so many choices! We skipped the swim and opted for massages in the Bodyna spa to ease our travel-weary bodies, wishing that we had another night to indulge in the steaming plunge pools in the basement, once original Roman baths, now refurbished in a modern style with a hint of the history still intact.
All pummelled and mellow, we headed to the pool and outdoor courtyard to sip daiquiris, snack and read. This area was terraced with a well-maintained, lovely garden, providing cool corners to enjoy relaxation time relatively undisturbed. The pool did look inviting, but being blissed out (and moisturised) from our massage, we left the aqua frolicking to the gorgeous and lithe young guests, who were having a ‘splashing’ time, and ordered another drink. On the warm afternoon, the staff were doing their best to keep up with refreshment orders, but the distance of the bar from the courtyard meant they were getting plenty of exercise!
On the one night we stayed at Palacio del Bailio, we didn’t have to think too much about what to do with our evening. The hotel was offering a special degustation meal, combined with an intimate performance from National Flamenco Award winning guitarist, Alberto Lucena. Luckily for us, we were still able to get a good table, even though we elected not to partake in the degustation – the food in Spain is fantastic, and over indulging at lunch meant that there really wasn’t room for much more than a glass of wine and a few olives while we listened to this national household name. It’s a shame that some others in the restaurant wanted ‘dinner music’ to underscore their chat rather than listen to the skilled musicianship of the guest performer. I guess that the quality of the performers in Spain is generally so high that many take for granted that the dinner music is always going to be ‘top notch.’
Unlike many others staying at the hotel, we did not venture out into the streets of Córdoba again that evening, opting instead to get an excellent night’s sleep in our aptly named ‘Dreamer’ room. One night in this hotel was not enough – three nights would’ve been preferred; that would’ve allowed just enough time to indulge in more of the history and beauty of both Córdoba and the Palacio del Bailio.