Conceived by King Alfonso XIII, the hotel originally opened in 1929 during the Art Deco era, and was considered an essential stopover during the “Golden Age of Travel.”
The Hotel Alfonso XIII’s open double-height reception space is adorned with patterned marble floors; marble stairs; bas-relief decorated crown moldings; a coffered ceiling from which hangs period chandeliers; and frescos above arched passageways. Since these original surfaces were to remain untouched, unable to even add an electrical socket to accommodate a new lighting arrangement, The Gallery took exact measures of the location of each socket in the lobby to understand the constraints and options for relocating furniture. The reception desk has now been dressed in crimson leather panels embossed with the hotel’s logo. Original azulejos – the ornate ceramic tiles native to Seville - are hand-painted with azure and mustard palette which in turn inspired the lobby’s new and reupholstered furnishings.
From here are views of an al fresco dining courtyard encircled by mosaic-clad colonnades. The design team made the most of the sunlight flooding into the arcades, re-planning the space so that one half is the lobby lounge and the other hosts the all-day dining area, now relocated from a back room into the gallery. Flexible furnishing layouts are available, along with natural and tobacco-colored rattan textures and button-tufted chairs mix with existing antiques.
Available are numerous wining and dining venues. The re-imagined version of the original but long-lost American Bar boasts an Art Deco feel, with lacquered walls draped in a silky robin’s egg blue fabric accented with a golden fringe, grand mirrors with polished blue lacquer frames, and a bar finished in polished brass and Macassar Ebony timber. Bodega Alfonso, by contrast, has Moorish forms, its traditional and rich color palette, weathered oak planks fixed with iron rivets that form the bar, and a painting of King Alfonso XIII.
Also, the new Taifas restaurant and bar has a free-standing building not connected to the main hotel, with The Gallery given free creative rein for the transformation of this former utility space. Timber wine cabinets fitted with antique brass screens cabinets sit behind the Carrara marble topped bar, and the ceiling is embellished with a patterned plaster lattice ceiling. A backlit carved Moorish screen defines the separate dining area, where a low seating accented with embroidered cushions defining the transition between indoor and outdoor dining spaces. Encaustic tiles and pendant lights by local ironmongers are also featured.
The below ground levels of the hotel were stripped out to transform previous back-of-house areas into meeting rooms. Luxury touches include linen covered walls, oak plank floors and crimson leather accents inset into the millwork. The existing ground-level fitness center was also expanded through the addition of glazing that opens-up the space onto the hotel’s landscape. A yoga garden was introduced, as well as a sauna adorned with local “zellige” tiles in a Moorish pattern.
The guestrooms are as a collection of rooms designed in three styles which between them harness the three major influences on the make-up of Seville: Moorish, Andalucian and Castilian. The Moorish rooms feature restored moldings, uniquely fashioned furnishings, among others.
Flamenco dancing inspires the Andalucian bedrooms, which boast the sculptural “swish” shapes carved into their cornices to “conjure up the flick of a flamenco skirt that reveals a flash of color and ruffles”. This has also been interpreted into a feminine décor with patterned textiles, and studded leather headboards.
Meanwhile, the Andalucian rooms offer a deep ochre palette with dark timber furnishings such as carved headboards, as well as an artwork of a singular flourish painted on a canvas.
The Royal Suite has been imagined by The Gallery to be the luxury residence, featuring portraits and artefacts from King Alfonso XIII’s travels, curated from the hotel’s private collection. Antiques are combined with new furnishings, such as television cabinets in hand-gilded leather and, in the master bedroom, a four-poster bed enveloped in hand-embroidered fabrics.
Overlooking the gardens of the neighboring palace is the Reales Alcázares Suite. The designers envisioned this space as the private boudoir of María de Padilla, the secret mistress of King Pedro the Cruel. In the living room, featured are charcoal walls and Chinoiserie patterns. The master bedroom is draped with plush velvets combined with wrought iron furniture, while the second bedroom is dressed in scarlet red.
The Hotel Alfonso XIII is one of Spain’s quintessential landmark properties. Located in Seville, it was commissioned by the Spanish king whose name it bears. It was designed by the architect José Espiau y Muñoz, and took 12 years to complete. Hotel Alfonso XIII is part of the Luxury Collection ensemble.