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HOTEL ALFONSO XIII, Seville, Spain
Friday 27 Jul 2012
Affirming its pre-eminence among the great hotels of Europe, the Sevillian Hotel Alfonso XIII has been restored and reinvented by The Gallery, the studio within HBA’s London team that is dedicated to the interior design of highly specialised bespoke projects.
Conceived by King Alfonso XIII, the hotel originally opened in 1929 during the Art Deco era and became one of the essential stopovers for travellers during the “Golden Age of Travel”. The open double-height reception space is adorned with intricately patterned marble floors; dramatic marble stairs; bas-relief decorated crown mouldings; a rich coffered ceiling from which hangs period chandeliers; and lavish frescos above soaring arched passageways - all of which combine to create a rare degree of opulence. These original surfaces were to remain untouched; even adding an electrical socket to accommodate a new lighting arrangement was impermissible.
Enticing views of an al fresco dining courtyard are encircled by exquisite mosaic-clad colonnades. The design team made the most of the radiant sunlight which floods 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 luminous gallery. Flexible furnishing layouts enable a variety of social events; natural and tobacco-coloured rattan textures and button-tufted chairs mix with existing antiques, inviting guests to relax in a setting resplendent with old-world panache.
There is a wide choice of wining and dining spaces, each with their distinct experience. A re-imagined version of the original but long-lost American Bar evokes a sophisticated Art Deco feel, with lacquered walls draped in a silky robin’s egg blue fabric accented with a lustrous golden fringe, grand mirrors with polished blue lacquer frames, and a bar finished in polished brass and Macassar Ebony timber.
Guests can relax by the poolside or experience the casual Moorish style of the new Taifas restaurant and bar. Because this existing free-standing building was not connected to the main hotel, The Gallery was given free creative rein for the transformation of this former utility space into a stylish venue. A backlit carved Moorish screen defines the separate dining area, where low seating accented with embroidered cushions creates a lively transition between indoor and outdoor dining spaces. Hand-painted encaustic tiles and colourful staggered pendant lights crafted by local ironmongers brings vibrancy to the clean white space.
The guestrooms are 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 are a treasure trove of intricately detailed restored mouldings, dramatically fashioned furnishings and voluptuously shaped features.
The Royal Suite has been imagined by The Gallery to be the luxury residence where King Alfonso XIII would have stayed, and is endowed with portraits and artefacts from his frequent travels, curated from the hotel’s private collection. Priceless antiques are combined with sumptuous new furnishings, such as television cabinets sheathed in hand-gilded leather and, in the master bedroom; the draped four-poster bed is enveloped in fluid, hand-embroidered fabrics.