This is my review of Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, part of Marriott’s The Luxury Collection.
When I first started travelling heavily in my early 20s, I would visit cities, walk past – or often pop inside – the main luxury hotel and decide that I would return one day when I had some money. Over the years I have been lucky enough to tick off most of my list, but I’d never made it back to Seville to stay in Hotel Alfonso XIII.
A few months ago (yes, this is a heavily delayed review) I made it down there. I deliberately picked two nights when the hotel seemed quiet with many suites available for sale, knowing that I had some Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards to use up. My plan worked and the upgrade cleared into what I think was a Premium Suite.
I paid for my stay and the hotel did not know I was reviewing it. As I didn’t get an official tour I didn’t see any other rooms and didn’t eat any meals except breakfast and one light lunch in the hotel. The hotel website – click here – has a lot of images showing what I don’t cover.
The history of Hotel Alfonso XIII
There are many smaller cities in the world which have one huge historic hotel, something on a scale and grandeur that nothing else in the city can come close to matching. The Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville is one of these.
Sometimes these hotel are exceptionally faded (eg the Grand in Scarborough!) since they can never charge enough to cover the maintenance required to keep them in top condition. Hotel Alfonso XIII just about pulls it off – it doesn’t have all the mod cons but you wouldn’t want to miss the experience of staying here.
The hotel was built for the World’s Fair of 1929. To quote Wikipedia:
The building is in the Neo-Mudéjar style. This style is historicist and, in this case also has an aspect of Andalusian regionalism. Initially designed in 1916, it blends in with the overall aesthetics of the buildings planned for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Its façade and its overall construction display a significant wealth of decorative elements and details, built from materials that could well be considered as frugal or simple: mostly brick, plaster, wood and ceramics.
The interior puts forth a display of wealth and status: arches and columns, decorated with elaborate coffered hanging lamps and fine carpets from the Royal Tapestry Factory. Ornamented ceramic tiles (azulejos) decorate walls, ceilings and all manner of structures. The luxurious rooms were designed to accommodate kings, presidents, celebrities and other guests of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The floors are marble and wood.
A stay here is like stepping back in time, in a generally good way.
In terms of location, it can’t be beaten – directly in the city centre and just a few steps from the Alcazar.
Inside Hotel Alfonso XIII
Instead of going through the usual check-in etc story, I just want to show a few photos from the hotel website. Frankly, if you like the look of what you see you’ll want to come, and if you don’t then nothing I can say about the number of USB sockets will change your mind.
The images above and immediately below are of the astonishing lobby:
You’re very much not in a Holiday Inn Express here ….
Whilst there are lifts, if you are empty handed you’d be crazy not to enjoy taking the stairs to your room:
…. with a separate lobby on each floor:
The heart of the action is the hotel courtyard, which is covered by blinds when the sun is at its peak:
…. although you can also eat around the edges inside:
One thing that surprised me was the large swimming pool, which you can’t see from the street or on your way into the hotel:
The pool makes the hotel into a real urban resort and means a short break here feels like a proper sun holiday in season.
Let’s move on to a few of my own photographs, which look rather poor by comparison to the official ones. Here is breakfast in the courtyard, from a ‘good but not great’ buffet:
Here’s another shot of the afternoon tea area:
Here is an utterly OTT lobby area on my floor if you are taking the stairs down:
My suite at Hotel Alfonso XIII
I had booked a standard room – discounting the cost via the American Express / Marriott cashback offer that ran over the summer and which included this hotel (it is NOT included in the current version of the offer) – and used two Suite Night Awards to request an upgrade.
(You receive five Suite Night Awards for 50 Marriott nights in a calendar year and another five for hitting 75 nights. This HfP article explains more.)
As you’d expect, a historic hotel like this has a disproportionately high number of suites. The chances of a Suite Night Award clearing are good as long as there are a lot of suites still for sale when you book. Out of peak season, suites are also proportionately good value for cash.
The rooms are all different so don’t get too hung up on any particular aspect below. In particular, the hotel photo gallery online shows multiple different bathroom design schemes so don’t let mine spook you!
My suite consisted of two rooms. There was one large sitting area which took up 50% of the space:
…. with the bedroom and bathroom combined taking up the same area. The furnishings are an acquired taste, to put it mildly:
…. and the bathroom design was something else:
What you can’t see clearly in the photographs is that the stripes are bronze, not purple or brown, creating an interesting reflection everywhere. The shower was over the bath (you’re not in a Four Seasons here, albeit not paying their prices either). Toiletries were Byredo in large bottles.
I don’t want to give the impression that this hotel is hugely luxurious because it isn’t. There were clear maintenance issues, such as this cracking by the door:
More bizarre was the coffee machine in my room. I’m used to having to request milk for my coffee, but this was the first time that I had to call down to reception to get coffee itself, plus some cups. It still hadn’t arrived after I went out for a couple of hours and I had to chase it.
Housekeeping is also happy to leave waste from the rooms sitting around in the corridors on shelves for hours on end:
This is not your typical HfP hotel review – no talk of coat hangers, eggs royale or USB sockets here – because Hotel Alfonso XIII is not your typical hotel, and all the better for it.
It’s not perfect, by any means, but hopefully the pictures give you a feel for what I felt when I first popped in for a look 25 years ago, and why I wanted to go back.
Seville, of course, is a lovely city. It has been astoundingly hot this summer – over 40 degrees at times – so best experienced out of season when the hotel is also better value. For a weekend in late November, rooms start at €450 with a suite like mine around €900 per night. You can knock around €100 off per night for a midweek stay.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)