Spain has long been a beloved tourist destination owing to its beautiful, golden-sand beaches, rich culture and mouth-watering cuisine – but some parts of its coast have now been overrun with foreign tourists, to the point where it’s difficult to sift through all of the British pubs and fast food cafes to get a real taste of Spain.
One destination that won’t let you down though, is sun-dappled, fiesta loving Andalucia – one of the most romantic and passionate regions in all of Spain, and home to classic traditions including flamenco dancing and bull-fighting.
With the scent of orange blossom ever in the air, it’s a magical place that promises a true Spanish experience – and, even in the winter, it offers sunny weather and a temperate climate that makes it just perfect for an off-season getaway.
If culture is your thing, then head to Seville to soak up the olde-world charm of this beautiful city and spend a few days immersing yourself in its atmospheric feel. From castles and palaces to tapas and sangria, this place has got it all.
Our base for our visit was the Hotel EME Catedral Mercer – a quaint boutique hotel set in a typical 16th century Andalusian building in the heart of the central Santa Cruz district – a medieval Jewish quarter with narrow streets and squares.
Merging contemporary design with its long history, it’s a warm and welcoming place to begin your Sevillian adventure.
Rooms at the EME Catedral Hotel are spacious, featuring modern design and flat screen TVs, large, comfortable beds and pretty shuttered balconies overlooking the street below. There’s a walk-in wardrobe and sprawling sink area that makes getting ready for the day or the evening ahead easy, and we were pleased to find a good bottle of cava on ice and two glasses awaiting us on our arrival, along with a gorgeous plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries – the perfect way to toast the beginning of our stay.
After taking a moment to enjoy the view over a drink and a quick change, we were ready to head out to explore the city by night.
Food and drink
Our visit to this pretty little city started late one evening, as we arrived at the five-star EME Catedral for dinner and cocktails after a short hop by plane from the UK. Located right at the heart of this thriving city, it’s the perfect base from which to explore – and, with a traditional eatery, Al Lado by Spanish chef, Paco Perez, it’s got everything you need to start your stay off in style. Choose from an array of quality street food items which grace the menu, including homemade pizzas and burgers, salads or dishes to share and you will be well set up for the night.
Located just 50 yards from La Giralda, we were delighted to find that our room was located directly opposite the historic Seville Cathedral. And, with a rooftop swimming pool and bar – La Terrazza de EME – offering views over the city below, we couldn’t wait to get ourselves a much-needed glass of champagne and make plans for the following day. But first, it was time to head downstairs to La Esquina del Bacalao to sample some of those all-important tapas. No trip to Spain would be complete without sampling some of these tasty little bite-sized dishes over a drink or two, and the mouth-watering selection of croquetas, champinones al ajillo and various different salads certainly didn’t disappoint. The menu also includes popular favourites such as gambas pil pil (king prawns in garlic and olive oil), chorizo al vino (chorizo in red wine) and mejillones (mussels). (Please note that this restaurant is currently closed with no set reopening date yet, so keep an eye out for social media updates).
When it comes to locations, it really doesn’t get much better than this, with all the main sights in just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel. The breathtaking Royal Alcazar of Seville – a royal palace built for the Christian King, Peter of Castile by Castillian Christians on the site of residential fortress, it’s sprawling and verdant gardens make for a pleasant wander on a sunny day.
Set just off from a pretty square which is lined with orange trees and horses and carts and just across from the cathedral, it doesn’t get much more photogenic than this. And with shops, restaurants and bars all around you, it’s the liveliest part of the city.
Within half an hour, you can have made it on foot down to the river – taking in the famous Plaza de Espana, which has been used as a filming location for movies including Lawrence of Arabia, along the way. You could easily explore the whole city on foot in just a day or two – but of course, the more time you have available to truly immerse yourself in all that Seville has to offer, the more of an authentic and memorable experience you’re guaranteed to have. There is nothing quite like losing an entire day wandering its narrow, winding streets and finding yourself dining with the locals – finding out what life is really like in this bustling and beautiful city.
After a long day exploring the city, the prospect of an afternoon spent in the hotel’s on-site spa was appealing. A chance to soak our aching muscles in the hammam and unwind in the sauna was a much-needed chance to recharge, and although a reasonably small area to spread out in, we were fortunate to have the place to ourselves. Guests must book their slots in advance to avoid overcrowding, promising a calming and more intimate experience. And, with a range of sumptuous spa treatments on offer, there is also a private curtained area in which to enjoy a massage, facial or just about any other pampering session you could think of.
In a nutshell
A pretty and perfectly located boutique hotel at the heart of Seville’s bustling Santa Cruz district, there’s no better place to base yourself for a short stint in the city. Offering five-star luxury, excellent service and fine attention to detail, it’s guaranteed to make your trip.
Rooms can be booked for 565 Euros per night for a Junior Suite and from 850 Euros per night for a Deluxe Suite with views. Rates depend on period of booking and are subject to change.
Address: Calle Alemanes, 27, 41004 Seville (Spain)
Phone: +34 954 560 000
All hotel related images used in this article credit: emecatedralmercer.com