This restored Arabian bathhouse down a tiny alley in the Santa Cruz district is the perfect escape from the baking afternoon heat. It's mixed, and you can bring your own bathers. After cold mint tea in the relaxation room you are invited to dip into each of the three pools (warm, hot and then cold), steam yourself in the hammam, relax in the whirpool and then float gently in the salt pool.
A soothing, indulgent atmosphere is created by the glistening white of the marble, and the illuminated blue water that plays patterns across the dark red plaster walls, faded wooden ceilings and archways. Your journey through the baths is guided by shimmering scented candles and Arabic lamps. Visits last for 90 minutes but you must book ahead, as they limit numbers due to its popularity. It is open until midnight, if you fancy a late dip.
Aire de Sevilla, Calle Aire 15
A quiet and friendly hotel despite its central location (it literally is about 50m from the cathedral and main street). There are only 12 rooms in this old building, which have been renovated in a modern style with dark wood and white furnishing, and very sleek bathrooms. If you get a superior room you may be lucky to get one of the two rooms on the top floor, which have outdoor patios giving stunning views of the cathedral. The staff here are genuinely friendly and helpful, and it's a great place to stay.
Excellent modern Spanish restaurant near Santa Catalina. The menu is interesting (and there's a helpful English translation behind the bar if you ask). The food is very tasty and well prepared. The special house red is amazing and I'm gutted to have forgetten the name already. Child-friendly. Excellent and non-prententious service. Very reasonably priced. I would go back!
Dona Maria Coronel, 17
Seville: 954 215 804
A fantastic tapas bar on (surprise-surprise) Alfalfa. Great Italian-style tapas, great wine, great service, laid-back and good music. Amazingly good value for money.
Also appears to have a slightly unusual resident transvestite.
Don't go for pudding at Tuereg over the road - it's dreadful!
Calle Alfalfa, 6
This hotel is a converted bogeda, with a beautifully lit courtyard/atrium. It does bed and breakfast, but has no restaurant or bar. They will do room service to the courtyard, where we supped several glasses of wine and took afternoon coffee. The breakfasts were typically continental offering a huge choice from a buffet ranging from cold meats and cheese to cereals and fruit. Also the reception desk was wonderful, helpful and friendly with good english.
Calle Alvarez Quintero 9-13, near the Cathedral
A great place to get a cheap bite to eat. With a great selection of montaditos and a fair selection of cold tapas as well, it's a lively venue that always reminds me of an old municipal swimming pool. The main seating area is a series of tiled banks beyond the bar. It's very noisy but that's half the fun. If you're feeling greedy head down the road a few doors to the bar with the Chocolate y Churros sign hanging outside. The churros there are as good as you'll get in Seville and the background din of gossiping local senoras is the perfect accompaniment to the stodgy churros and thick, rich chocolate.
c/ San Eloy 9;
9 San Eloy
The world has been cursed with Irish pubs; miniature, unpleasant, tacky theme parks that recall an Ireland that probably never existed. If that's what you're looking for then you'll find them elsewhere in Seville, but the Merchants is nothing of the sort. Slightly off the beaten track, though still only a two minute walk from the centre, it manages to be as much a haven for locals as it is a home for ex-pats and cheap flight weekenders. Spacious and roomy, with free wifi, good music and ridiculously generous helpings of high quality food, it's everything most Irish pubs aren't. If you want to watch the football or have somewhere you can actually sit down and drink (the Spanish are much happier standing than the British) without feeling like you're still at home then the Merchants is the place to go.
C/ Canalejas 12; tel: 954 214 500;
Mercado de Triana, over the river great little market in what was once the poor gypsy quarter of the city. You can pick up lush fruit and stop for a little pick me up at one of the small stall bars.
In Triana itself, there are plenty of good untouristy good tapas bars where you can pick gambas al pil pil etc. And you can wind your way back via a few of the little bars that line the banks of the river Guadalquivir.
Simple, clean and perfectly placed in the Santa Cruz district near the cathedral. More importantly, it has air con and is cheap (from €55 for a double). I've stayed here over the past 10 years, and have never felt the urge to put up anywhere fancier.
Tel: 00 34 954 211 170
Behold Merchant's pub in Sevilla. A two-storey bar that is both relaxed, charming, and definitely the best place to while away your Sunday watching La Liga and the premiership. There is a lively ex-pat community that frequents the bar with other regulars including locals who love to chat and sing and dance with the best of us. There is a nurturing spirit within the walls of Merchant's, it's wooden décor and snugs make you feel all cosy and at home, and with friendly bar staff who genuinely enjoy their work, you could find yourself nipping in for a quick “pinta” and not leaving until the early hours having had a brilliant evening, having hardly dinted your Euro holdings, and having made some great friends.
C/ Canalejas 12; tel: 954 214 500;
In August the temperature is around 40º (104F), but by midnight it drops to about 30º (80F). This is when the locals start to go out and they stay out till 6am. It's worth staying up to sit in an outdoor cafe at 4am, particularly near the river, and definitely worth having a big siesta.
This is a small, friendly tapas bar not far from the Alameda. As a resident of Seville I dislike giving away the city's best kept secrets but this place truly deserves rewarding. The tapas are very tasty, really imaginative, well presented and ridiculously good value. The salmorejo is one of the (if not the) best in the city. A bit off the beaten track but well worth the bother.
C/ Alcoy 10, just round the corner from Plaza San Lorenzo, not far from the Alameda; tel: 954 905 702
Although Irish owned it's nothing like the typical Irish pubs you'll often find on your travels. With friendly bilingual staff and a mainly local clientele the atmosphere, whilst differing from that of a traditional Seville bar, is welcoming and hospitable. Excellent food ranging from local dishes to a wide selection of international meals. Also serves an excellent pint and has a huge choice of whiskies. Right in the centre of the city.
C/ Canalejas 12; tel: 954 214 500;
If you go the main Post Office, make sure you get a ticket from the machine on the right-hand side at the front of the main concourse before queuing. We were in Seville three weeks ago and did not notice the machine - I ended up having a heated exchange with a girl I thought was pushing in front of me after about a 20-minute wait!
Evening tours of the city. Carmen takes you on a singing tour of the city, visiting many of the places mentioned in Bizet's opera (the tobacco factory is now the University). She has a wonderful voice and makes the place come alive. Does not perform every night.
Departs daily except Tuesday and Sunday at 7pm from the corner of Calle Sto. Thomas and Calle Miguel Mañara, near the Alcazar entrance. What you pay is up to you. For more details check with the main tourist hotels.
Take it - it's €2.40 direct to the centre of the city. Ask for Santa Justa station. Buses run half-hourly, and hourly at less busy times.
The service is run by Amarillo Tours, tel: 34 902 21 03 17;
Check timetable info at www.linc.tv/seville-connections.php
We went to a Flamenco show at El Arenal (which was recommended by our hotel and also happened to top the list of flamenco venues in our Time Out guide). You could choose to eat there (show & dinner or show & tapas) or just have a drink. It was quite pricey; they're very stern with latecomers and you have to book in advance; but it's worth it to get some idea of the breadth of the art form, especially if you don't have long in the city and can't take a chance just hanging out at bars hoping that someone will get up and sing/play. The best performance for us was from a majestic old woman who sat on a chair to sing, but got so involved that she pushed the chair away and danced too - she was mesmerising.
Tablao El Arenal, Calle Rodo 7, Seville, 41001;
tel: 954 216 492
It may be cheesy, but I can thoroughly recommend the hop-on hop-off open-top bus tour because it gives you a great feel for the city and provides priceless orientation in little over an hour. From there we quickly decided which cultural sites we wanted to take a closer look at, and we also spotted (and visited) a very traditional, very un-touristy tapas bar near the river where local workers were taking their lunch. It was also a great way to see all the Expo buildings (both Expos) and get some background on why they were (and weren't) successful.
Operated by Sevirama (tel 954 560 693). Buses leave half-hourly from the riverside Torre del Oro (any hotel can give precise directions there). Hop on and off as you wish. One ticket lasts 24 hours.
A truly lovely small hotel in the Santa Cruz district of Seville (formerly an 18th century tenement), it's just 10 minutes walk from the cathedral but offers an oasis of calm. It has a small rooftop pool and sun terrace; the rooms are tranquil and well equipped; the breakfasts are wonderful (cava! tortilla!) and the staff are unendingly helpful. Great for a romantic weekend and the perfect base for exploring.
Jesús de la Redención 2 (15 mins walk from the central railway station in Seville and about 25 mins in a taxi from the airport);
tel: 954 561 441; 954 561 496; 902 388 310
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