Carmona | Parador Hotel

parador carmona (3)
I’ve been to this Parador several times over the years – for events, or just for a drink at the bar when visiting Carmona – so when I had the opportunity to stay overnight recently I naturally jumped at the chance.

The Carmona Parador is the one that serves Seville, and is about a half-hour’s drive from the city, in the little town of Carmona. Like its larger neighbour, Carmona has a history that stretches back almost three thousand years to the time of the Phoenicians, and was also an important town in the Roman period. The hotel, which opened in 1976, can be found in the Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro (the Palace of King Peter) on the top of the hill at the eastern edge of the town. Originally a Moorish fortress, it was substantially rebuilt by King Peter in the 14th century in the Mudejar style (like the Alcázar in Seville), and became one of his favourite residences. Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly due to its location – my stay here was in July, and during the day Carmona was extremely hot, but at night this hilltop location catches the cool breezes, and it was very pleasant to sit out on the balcony and relax in the perfect evening weather.

parador carmona (1)Although quite a lot of the old walls are still standing, in various degrees of preservation, the hotel is a mainly modern building, but it retains many original features and decorations, such as tiles, stonework and wood beamed ceilings, as well as a beautiful central courtyard with pillars and a central marble fountain. I particularly liked the recurring 8-pointed star motif of the shutters and on the woodwork of doors and cupboards, and which gave the hotel a unified decorative theme.

The hotel has all the general facilities you would expect of a good 4-star. There’s a restaurant, bar/lounge with a pleasant terrace overlooking the surrounding countryside, as well as a proper swimming pool in a garden area below the hotel. There is also a children’s pool. The one drawback is it’s a bit of a trek down a winding stairway to get there, though this is at least partly compensated by a splendid view of the castle/hotel on the hill above.

parador carmona (2)[click on images to enlarge]

My superior double room was spacious and airy, with a super comfortable bed, a good size desk to work at, table and chairs and a shelf for the suitcase. There was also a large balcony with a good view (in fact, the balcony, and being an extra floor up, is the main difference between the standard and superior double rooms). Cool terracotta tile floors, and the carved wooden doors of the closet gave it a “period” feel that I liked. The bathroom was adequate, with very good water pressure, and the towels were nice and thick. A hairdryer and plenty of toiletries were also provided. We were also given a complimentary bottle of chilled water and some nibbles, a boon in the hot weather. One quibble was a shortage of power outlets for charging or operating phones and computers, but the free WiFi was available throughout the hotel, no passwords required. The buffet style breakfast was one of the best I’ve seen, with plenty of variety, including several cooked egg and meat dishes, a cold meat and cheese section, breads and pastries, cereals, fruit, juices, and coffee was brought to the table.

Last, but by no means least, it was a handy base for exploring the picturesque old town of Carmona, with its charming little streets and attractive squares. I really enjoyed my overnight stay, and cannot praise the hotel staff enough. Excellent professional service at every turn.  I hope to be back again before too long, next time to try the hotel restaurant.

Carmona Parador Hotel
Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro
Carmona, Sevilla
Tel: 954 141 010

Granada | Hotel Casa 1800

hotel casa 1800 granada

A few years ago I watched the Hotel Casa 1800 in Sevilla transform the large family home next to my barrio Santa Cruz apartment into a lovely boutique hotel and, when asked for a tour upon completion, could not believe what they’d done to the place. Every room was unique and sumptuously decorated. So when I recently planned to revisit Granada I thought a night in their new hotel there would be just the thing. And it was. The Hotel Casa 1800 in Granada is a charming 25 room hotel in a traditional 17th century Granada townhouse (the Migueletes) that bats far above its 3-star rating in terms of comfort and convenience.

hotel casa 1800 granadajunior suite

Rooms range from standard doubles to a Grand Deluxe Suite Room with Jacuzzi. My superior double booking got upgraded to a junior suite, which was spacious and elegant, with a king-size bed with an ornate gilt headboard, and a sofa and coffee table for relaxing with the complimentary water, tea or coffee. Some of the rooms have views of the Alhambra (standard rooms, however, mostly overlook the street or central patio). The marble-lined bathroom was equipped with both a shower and bath, a proper hairdryer, nice fluffy robes and lovely toiletries.

hotel casa 1800 granada s

It’s in an excellent location, just one block away from the River Darro, which runs between the Alhambra and Albaicín (old Moorish quarter) hills, with easy access to all the main sights, shopping, and bars and restaurants. Like their sister hotel in Sevilla, the conversion from house to hotel has maintained the rustic and picturesque appearance of the building, especially the central patio – flagstone floors, wood pillars and railings, and a fountain with water spout grotesques. All the standard services which you’d expect are available, including free Wi-Fi, but they also do a free afternoon merienda (tea and snack) between 4 – 6 pm, which is a nice touch and very welcome after a long day of sightseeing. In fact, it was a struggle to decide whether to relax in my gorgeous room or in the charming courtyard. The staff all speak English and will arrange any reservations for shows and restaurants for you. Highly recommended for both comfort and style, though I’d spend that bit extra for a superior room.

Hotel Casa 1800 Granada
Benalúa, 11
Tel 958 210 700