Jerez | Hotel Palacio Garvey

palacio garvey (1)

The Palacio Garvey was originally built in 1850 as the residence of the Garvey sherry family and still retains its neo-classical architectural style, but is now equipped with all the conveniences of a modern 4-star hotel. Located in the old town of Jerez, just off calle Larga, one of the main shopping streets. It’s a great base for exploring, visiting one of the many sherry bodegas or the famous horse show.

The 16 rooms are spacious and uniquely decorated, with a choice of either a “dark” or “light” theme. Each comes with a modern bathroom equipped with a hydro-massage bath, and have wenge wood floors, flatscreen TV with satellite channels, music system and free Wi-Fi. Downstairs the Patio Andaluz provides a relaxing open air space with plenty of greenery for taking a coffee or reading, and meeting rooms are also available. The two-floor building has several other comfortable common areas with lots of colourful quirky art throughout, mostly Andalusia-related subjects (flamenco, bullfighting, etc).

The La Condesa restaurant serves modern Mediterranean cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (room service available until 11 pm). It has a lovely terrace that runs alongside a part of the old roman city wall.

palacio garvey (2)My first-floor double room (a light-themed one) was the only one in the hotel with twin (90cm) beds. It had beautiful high ceilings and tall windows overlooking the patios. Modern and traditional are combined nicely in the attractive restored furnishings and sleek electronics. The spacious bathroom came with two sinks, spa bath and shower, nice toiletries and exceptionally fluffy towels. Possibly due to the set up of the rooms my WiFi reception was inadequate, but this was my only complaint (though it was a rather important one). The continental breakfast at 12€ will certainly set you up for the day, with a selection of artesanal breads and pastries, spreads, ham, cheese, fresh juice and excellent coffee. A nice touch is having table service rather than the usual buffet-style. The staff are very helpful, professional and friendly. Recommended.

Hotel Palacio Garvey
Tornería, 24
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel: +34 956 326 700

Jerez | Hotel Asta Regia

asta regia (1)

The Asta Regia (named for the nearby Roman town) is a relatively new hotel just off the Plaza Arenal, the main square in the centre of the old city. It’s also near the Alcázar Palace and just a five-minute walk to the central Market, with plenty of good bars and restaurants nearby.

The building was once a palace, but has been completely renovated to provide all the modern services which you’d expect from a four-star hotel, including swimming pool, sauna and gym, while maintaining some traditional touches – lots of those horseshoe arches, for example. The rooms (31 of them) are spacious, and include twins, standard doubles, superior doubles and junior suites, all with TV and free Wi-Fi. Aside from an attractive dining area (open for breakfast only) there is also a lounge/bar in front of reception. If you want a room with a street view, opt for a superior. The standard double rooms are all interior and open onto the patio.

asta regia (2)Room decór is clean and modern, and is consistent throughout the hotel. Our double superior room, which faced onto the street, had two larger than average (and very comfortable) 105cm twin beds, a desk, plenty of closet space and a mini bar. The bathroom was attractive and well-equipped, with a shower/bath, two sinks, toiletries, and a hair dryer. My only small niggle was the insufficient number of electrical sockets to plug in our devices. But it was a very pleasant stay, with helpful and friendly staff. I highly recommend the Asta Regia for comfort and location.

Hotel Asta Regia
San Agustín, 9
Jerez de la Frontera
Tel: +34 956 327 911

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

Córdoba | Hotel Hacienda Posada de Vallina

posada vallina roomIf you’re looking for quality mid-range hotel accommodation in Córdoba, you can’t really go wrong with this charming place behind the Mezquita. The location is excellent, close to the Alcázar and Roman Bridge as well as the Mezquita, and only a short walk from the old Jewish quarter and city walls. Opened in 2007 after complete refurbishment of the building, the Posada has in a sense come full circle, as posada in Spanish means an inn, typically a coaching inn with a well, which was the building’s original use.

posada vallinaThere are 24 rooms (mostly doubles), 7 facing the street and the Mezquita, and the rest around an interior courtyard. There’s a little library off the reception area, and a café/ breakfast room downstairs. The style of both rooms and public areas is traditional, with a lot of dark wood. To my mind this made the bedroom a little sad looking, especially as there was no lamp (there are additional lamps available in reception, but I didn’t discover this until I was checking out). Just switching the dull ochre bedcovers for white ones would make the world of difference. Also, way too much “air freshener”… so much so that I almost couldn’t breathe and had to keep the windows in my room wide open, in November.

posada vallina viewWi-fi was very good throughout the hotel, though if you move around you initially have to connect again, as there’s more than one router. But it seems a smart solution for the “thick walls” excuse that many older hotels use. The library across from reception proved a cosy and convenient spot for doing a bit of work online. And the reception staff were wonderful, very friendly and helpful.

I was generoulsy hosted by Hotel Hacienda Posada de Vallina – all opinions are my own.

Hotel Hacienda Posada de Vallina
Calle del Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 83
Tel: +34 957 498 750

Úbeda | Hotel Rosaleda de Don Pedro

ubeda - roselada (1)

The Rosaleda de Don Pedro is right in the middle of the old centre of Úbeda, making it a perfect base from which to explore, although it’s a bit of a trek from the bus station. Part of the Sercotel Hotels group of 3-5 star hotels (the Rosaleda has 3 stars) there’s a full range of rooms from singles to junior suites. There is also has an outdoor pool and terrace which we didn’t have time to enjoy, but it looked very nice.

ubeda - roselada (2)Our standard double room was up on the 4th (top) floor, with a sloping ceiling that added to its rather rustic feel, but made the bathroom sink and mirror a little inconvenient. Well okay, useless really (had to do hair and make-up out in the room). It could also have used a few more power sockets, and you had to keep signing in to connect to the WiFi, which got a bit frustrating.

But these minor complaints aside, the room was quite spacious and comfortable, and we really enjoyed our two-night stay. I especially loved the fabulous view from the window – a cascade of rooftops on the hill below, and took multiple photos of it at different times of the day. In fact I loved it so much that when the very helpful staff offered to move me to a poolside room with a better WiFi connection, I chose to stay with my view and work downstairs in the comfy TV room, with rustic wooden tables and leather chairs.

Breakfast was fairly “standard hotel”, adequate but nothing special. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and the bar in front of reception is open all day long. Overall, excellent value for money, and I’d be very happy to stay here again.

Hotel Rosaleda de Don Pedro
Obispo Toral, 2
953 796 111

Sanlúcar de Barrameda | Hotel Barrameda

hotel barrameda room 216

A 2-star hotel with reasonable prices, the Hotel Barrameda is clean, modern and well-appointed. It’s in a perfect location on the central square, Plaza del Cabildo, which is chock full of tapas bars (including the famous Casa Balbino) and cafés, is close to most of the sights, and about a 10-15 minute walk from the beach. The market is just around the corner as well, with the adjoining streets full of all kinds of colourful stalls, selling everything from hats to live camarones (tiny prawns).

The hotel has a pleasant reception area with a breakfast room (though we opted to breakfast out) and a large attractive patio filled with plants, marble tables and wicker chairs. There’s also a solarium on the roof, though we forgot to go up to see it (oops).

hotel barramedaThe rooms are quite spacious, with comfortable beds and AMAZING pillows, flat-screen TV, a big desk, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The bathrooms are roomy with a walk in shower. Unpretentious, with everything you need for a short stay. If possible, opt for one of the rooms in the newer section. The staff was very helpful, moving us from the first interior standard double room in the older area to a more modern style room which I personally found brighter and more cheerful. It had a balcony facing a side street full of vendors from which we could also see the main square. Next time I will definitely splash out on one of the superior rooms, which balconies looking out over the plaza.

Hotel Barrameda
Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Ancha, 10
956 385 878