THE WEEKEND: Seville is the ideal long weekend destination. The flight is less than three hours, it hardly ever rains, and the locals start reaching for their jumpers and moaning about the cold if the temperature drops below 25 degrees. We left grey London on Friday afternoon and spent most of the weekend sunbathing, looking over picture perfect blue and yellow tiled rooftops and the city’s many historic buildings from our hotel’s rooftop pool.
THE HOTEL: We stayed at the Gran Melia Colon – it’s bang in the centre of town and the epitome of 5-star perfection. Our room was spacious with crisp, modern design and idyllic city views. The marble bathroom was well-stocked with Clarins products – there is also a spa operated by Clarins in the hotel. It was all superb – the only hair-raising moment was minutes after we arrived when my four-year-old discovered the hotel tablet on top of the mini-bar. I was busy unpacking when the concierge rang to ask “had I really meant to order 16 items from the menu and a Peppa Pig movie fest?”
ASK ABOUT: Seville is a fantastic place for cycling. A lot of the city centre is pedestrianised, but bikes are allowed, so traffic isn’t a problem. It has about a gazillion historic buildings, churches, markets and monuments and travelling by bike means you get to see a lot more of them. We went on a bike tour with SeebyBike and had a lovely local guide who shared loads of great stories about life in the city; stories of Catholic processions, bull fights, and modern flamenco dancing. He had lots of great tourist tips, most importantly he told us where to get the best ice-cream: at Helados Raya on San Pablo. He also told us how to avoid standing in a three hour line in the baking hot sun to get into the cathedral. It’s easy when you know: buy a combination ticket from the church of San Salvador, around the corner, then walk straight in via the pre-purchased tickets line. Combination tickets to see both San Salvador and the Cathedral are the same price as a ticket to the Cathedral – and San Salvador is a lovely little church to see.
AFTER THAT: Not so much after as before and after: the thing to remember in Spain is the siesta. No Spanish person goes out for dinner before 10pm. Go out much earlier and you are likely to be sitting in a restaurant by yourself. And then, having eaten so late, no one seems to leave the house before 10am.
THE FOOD: The regional speciality is jamon – which locals love to boast about. Seafood is of course very popular, and you must try the Seville marmalade, which is available everywhere, served with goats cheese and wafers of toasted bread. The hotel restaurant Burladero has very good offerings of all three, along with lashings of very reasonably priced wine. Worried you’ll feel overwhelmed by choice? Our restaurant pick is Los Coloniales, on Plaza Buen Suceso, for amazing tapas, wine and sangria.