November 29 2009
Whenever I visit a city for the first time, I like to head to the most elegant hotel in town for cocktails. In Seville, that means the Hotel Alfonso XIII, which was once considered the finest hotel in Spain. Disappointingly, the bar lacked the buzz that is now expected of five-star hotels and failed to live up to the elegant lobby with its fancy Moorish architecture and tiling. Undeterred, my friend and I booked lunch in the alfresco courtyard the following day, only to discover that between 12pm-3pm on a Sunday, it is given over to a buffet brunch.
We booked in for that instead, along with an interesting cast of characters that included an ageing Lauren Bacall lookalike in dark shades, the remains of a wedding party, and several freshly pressed Spanish families – all knife-pleat trousers and pastel cashmere.
The best part of the brunch – apart from the setting and the well-dressed company – was the impressive selection of freshly prepared salads and tapas starters. This was followed by several choices of main course, including paella and deliciously pink beef, and an array of bite-size dessert pastries and fruit, all for an astonishing €32 per head, including water, wine and coffee. So forget cocktails: the best way to experience the ambience of Seville’s most elegant old hotel is Sunday brunch.