Hidden in the labyrinthine streets of Seville’s barrio Alfalfa, Corral del Rey is a meticulously restored casa palacio that feels more like a social club of the stylish and well-connected than a conventional hotel. While the property has just seventeen rooms, they are uniformly comfortable and charming.
Style & Surrounds
The design?The palacio is made up of two buildings on opposite sides of a narrow street. Both share an aesthetic dominated by stone tile floors, limestone bathrooms and plush bedding. The two casas also have sky-lit atriums, which once served as patios for Sevillano residents to escape from the relentless summer heat. Today, they allow light into the buildings, which would otherwise be dark given the narrow alley that separates them.
The scene? Staying at the Corral del Rey feels like discovering a secret home owned by an aristocratic and gregarious host, which indeed happens to be the case. While it is popular with a predominantly European clientele, it feels as if its guests are one-degree of separation from each other, and from the hotel’s stylish owner, half-Brit, half-Spanish Anthony Reid. Conversations in the breakfast room and hallways all seem to revolve around comparing notes of fabulous dinner parties from the evening before, or tapas crawls planned for late into the night.
The dress code? Given that the size of the hotel provides limited space for public amenities—apart from a cozy restaurant room and rooftop terrace—there isn’t a great deal of opportunity to show off one’s wardrobe. Accordingly, the dress code is informed more by the weather (hot and humid in summer, chilly in winter), and the day’s activities beyond the hotel.
The surrounds? Seville is a wonderfully compact city that is best navigated on foot. Indeed, the hotel is located in a narrow alley that is inaccessible to cars, so your driver will have to drop you at the end of the block. Be sure to arrange transfers through the hotel so they can send someone to fetch your bags, rather than find yourself with luggage clattering over cobble stones and reverberating off the alley’s walls as you find your way from the drop-off point.
Day beyond the hotel? From the beautiful Moorish gardens of the nearby Alcázar Palace, to the wonderfully lavish Plaza de España a short bike ride away, and the countless churches which are outnumbered perhaps only by the city’s numerous tapas bars, Seville is a sightseer’s paradise.
Which celebrity or character from fiction would set up camp here? You could well envision James Michener, the author of Miracle in Seville—a must-read in advance of a trip to Andalusia—whiling away sweltering summer days in the cool oasis that is the Corral del Rey, had it been a hotel in his day. It feels like the type of place where you could easily imagine the clickity-clack of a typewriter reverberating off the cold stone floors and through the shuttered windows to the street below.
The room type: The Pool Suites have what is an ultimate amenity for any tiny boutique hotel: a rooftop terrace with plunge pool. It also has comfortable sun beds, and a table to have breakfast overlooking the city’s myriad roof gardens and majestic Giralda bell tower.
Bolt-hole, palatial or something in-between? The rooms are all cozy and cool (in all meanings of that word), although a bit dark given the blessedly thick walls and small windows that were designed to keep the heat out before the advent of air-conditioning. But this is not a city where you’ll want to stay in your room.
Room with view? With a Pool Suite, you’ll get views over the city’s roofscape. With all other rooms you’ll likely face the narrow alleys or interior courtyards between the tightly packed buildings of the Alfalfa barrio.
Tub, towels, and toiletries? The marble and limestone bathrooms are elegant throughout, highlighted with varying shades of grey, taupe and beige, and generously stocked with supplies.
What would you steal? Our daughter fell in love with a charcoal drawing by artist Henry John of a nude figure in the sky-lit hallway next to her room.
Room for improvement? While a quirky and thoughtful addition, the bathtub felt like a superfluous touch given the square footage of the room.
Lobby, Bar & Amenities
How was the restaurant? The small, informal downstairs restaurant retains 18th-century wooden beams and shutters and offers breakfast fare and an all-day menu of tapas classics like jamón ibérico and torilla. Although in a place like Seville you’ll want to explore the many bars and restaurants of its many barrios.
The breakfast? While the French have made the croissant famous, one would be hard pressed to find a flakier, more buttery variety of crescent-shaped Viennoiserie in Paris or Vienna than that served at Corral del Rey. That, and a strong coffee, some lovely jams, and even lovelier service, means breakfast here is worth getting out of bed for.
How about the bar? The small bar is stocked with a solid selection of Spanish wines.
Bring a bathing suit? There’s a roof-terrace garden with a Jacuzzi plunge pool and lounges, and the Pool Suites provide ample opportunity for sun-bathing or nocturnal dips.
Be warned about: The aforementioned logistical challenge of being dropped off by taxi at least 100 meters away is something to be aware of.
—Review by Marc Blazer, the co-founder of PRIOR.