A perfect palace: Tapas, flamenco and a Moorish past
Take the best of a 16th century palace and combine it with all the conveniences of a modern hotel. Add plenty of tapas and historical sights, and what you get is Casa Palacio de Carmona, a spacious haven for relaxation in Andalusia, Spain. Prepare to go back to the beginning of civilisation – and to do it in style.
TEXT: LINNEA DUNNE | PHOTOS: CASA PALACIO DE CARMONA
Run as a family business since it was first opened in 1991, Casa Palacio de Carmona boasts all the stunning features of a real palace: from courtyards and ceiling ornamentations to fountains, antiques and drawing rooms. It is truly grand – yet far from pompous. “The atmosphere is welcoming and relaxing: fresh air, beautiful gardens, shaded courtyards and subtle scents of orange and jasmine – virtual silence interspersed with flowing fountain waters and singing birds…” owner Felipe Guardiola Medina enthuses. “It’s a wonderful hotel for creatives and all other guests to truly relax and unwind in. It’s a home away from home.”
The Guardiola Medina family has worked hard to maintain the original features of the palace, as well as an element of luxury. With a chess room, a library, a swimming pool and an Arab garden, you will hardly be left wishing for more – though if you were, you would likely still find it. If there is one thing this place has plenty of, it is space: to rest, to dine, to relax and to wander – all in well-maintained Renaissance opulence.
In 2014, the hotel’s most recent refurbishment phase was completed, boasting a number of new rooms as well as the new Felipe’s Tapas Bar. A private apartment, Suite Azul, also launched recently, boasting the original high ceilings of what used to be a ballroom, beautiful paintings, stunning views and plenty of space complete with a piano. “This is the best space of the Casa,” says Guardiola Medina. “Here you can cook for yourself, entertain friends, just unwind and read a book. It’s the best combination of comfort and privacy.”
Food, history and nature
Like every other part of Spain, Carmona boasts endless tapas bars serving exquisite food – some of them said to be among the best in all of Andalusia. Visitors can take a tapas tour in the stunning nearby Seville or a tapas-making class at Casa Palacio itself. But there is certainly no shortage of other things to do here, should you wish for more activity than downtime. Many of the towns of Andalusia are just a stone’s throw away, including Seville, Córdoba and Jerez, and the Moorish heritage is present throughout.
Nature is generous too, with fascinating wildlife in the Donana National Park and untouched beaches in the Huelva and Cádiz area. Foodies can visit an olive oil farm, while those who want more action can enjoy a bull fight or some flamenco, or perhaps catch a theatre show or a round of golf. Between the spectacular Roman builds in Carmona and Arab influences including a castle and a mosque, architecture aficionados will be kept busy too; there are 14 churches and numerous palaces near Carmona alone – and if you head for Seville, you can also choose from El Real Alcazar, one of the oldest palaces in Europe, and the Giralda Tower of the Gothic Cathedral, which is the resting place of Christopher Columbus. Córdoba, meanwhile, boasts the highest and most envied wonder of the entire Arab civilisation, as well as a Jewish quarter with a magnificent synagogue and beautiful gardens at The Alcazar.
Bored? Not here. Perhaps it is lucky then, that Casa Palacio is just as spacious and pamper – ing as it is, because after a day of exploring southern Spain, you will need it.
Casa Palacio de Carmona is situated in Andalusia in southern Spain, just a ten-minute drive from the airport and about half an hour by car from Seville.