“Of all the hotels I have ever stayed in, the Casa Palacio de Carmona leaves me with some of the strongest memories. This is a truly atmospheric place. It may have something to do with the eerie orange light blanketing the interior courtyard in the height of summer, from the awning spread out to keep the interiors cool; it may have been because of the unexpected birdsong in some interior spaces; and it certainly had something to do with the passion and personality - and cooking - of its aristocratic owner, Felipe Guardiola Medina.
Carmona is a rather magical hilltop town half an hour outside Seville, with walls and buildings that date from Roman times. It has sweeping views, cool, narrow alleys, and a selection of grand town houses. One of these is the 16th century mansion the Casa Palacio de Carmona, which Felipe has made a labour of love over the past 30 years to restore from a virtual ruin, and share with guests from around the world. Don't come here if all you want is a hotel, and indeed don't expect the uniform anonymity and comforting banality of more traditional places. This was a home to a grand family and has been restored into a home for Felipe's dream, and is one with a huge amount of character and personality. No detail has been spared, from the Arab garden and running fountain to the four inner courtyards, often filled with birdsong and always full of plants, hosed down at regular intervals. Many of the rooms are enormous, with genuine antiques (many from his own aristocratic family), exquisite pictures, bespoke fabrics, and books everywhere. As in the Moorish tradition, the rooms look onto the interior, so many of them are dark. However they are also sumptuous and cocoon-like, with all the mod-cons such as air-con and pampering bathrooms. You eat al fresco in the courtyard or in a vaulted baronial dining room, or else beside the small open air pool. Even when full, the place is large enough that it will seldom feel like it. The main central inner courtyard is reminiscent of a Marrakesh riad and provides shelter from the heat in summer, while a wide staircase leads to the main, master bedrooms on the floor above. On three sides of this inner sanctum are elegant sitting rooms, with ticking clocks, roaring fires in winter, chess, backgammon, and books, books, books - many of them art related.
Felipe himself is an excellent chef, effortlessly knocking up individual dishes with the finest ingredients.
Being just fifteen minutes from the airport, and with 32 rooms, this is both ideal for a short, romantic city break and also a great place to hold an event - a wedding or an anniversary party for example. Felipe runs an events company precisely to manage this, so you will be in good hands.
Former guests have included BB King, Mario Testino and George Lucas. If you can figure out what they have in common, you will understand the magic that is the Casa Palacio de Carmona...”
Written by James Dunford Wood