A city that starts the day with a pre-breakfast snack and ends it with sherry and flamenco can do no wrong by us. Seville’s tapas alone (garlicky prawns, wine-soaked chorizo, whisper-thin serrano ham and defiantly peppery cheeses) merits a flight here.
Of course, there’s more to sunny southern Spain than what wafts temptingly from its kitchens; the pristine beaches of the Costa de la Luz stretch languorously for miles along the coast, and quiet chestnut woods and the sierras’ sleepy pueblos blancos (Andalucia’s famous white villages) are just an hour’s drive away.
Don your red flared skirts and ruffled lace shirts: Seville is the birthplace of passionate flamenco. Casa de la Memoria de al-Andalus on Calle Cuna is a cultural centre set in an elegant 18th-century palace. Nightly performances are held on its flower-sprinkled patio.
Alternatively, just wander through La Macarena district, breathing in the scents of orange blossom and jasmine and looking out for spontaneous performances at small backstreet peñas (flamenco clubs).
Calle Sierpes, north of La Giralda (the Cathedral of Seville’s bell tower), does a fine line in toffee-brown, top-quality leather goods: browse an array of shoes, bags and wallets. Try Nicole Miller or Loewe near Plaza Nueva for well-priced gifts.
Eat Casa Robles (Calle Álvarez Quintero 58) is a well-known family-run restaurant that has had over 50 years to perfect its succulent seafood; there’s also a tapas bar on the ground floor.
Seeking something more swanky? Join the gilded cherubs at Taberna del Alabardero (Zaragoza 20), which has a dining room graced with plush velvet banquettes and green satin chairs, and a master chef who turns out elegant dishes. Expect seasonal Spanish fare, served with panache.
Seville’s dry, light sherry is world-famous, and rightly so. You can buy manzanilla sherry from the bodegas (wine cellars) in Sanlúcar, Cadiz; squeeze in a visit to the intoxicating 200-year-old Hidalgo bodega, if you’ve time.
Sleep Spend Spanish nights at Corral del Rey, a revamped 17th-century mansion with wedding-cake-white walls in Seville’s labyrinthine old quarter. Preserved Roman marble pillars, a Seville-spying mirador (tower) and mediaeval Mudéjar wooden doorways lend this cosy casa historic charm; the rooftop plunge pool, contemporary art gallery and in-room gadgets (plasma TVs and pre-loaded iPods) add modernity to the mix. Nibble tapas late into the night at the ground-floor café, lounge and bar; if you’re really feeling nocturnal, stay put for espresso martinis at Mahoot bar.
Need further persuasion? This hotel is one of 55 half-price holidays available this winter; you could have a week here with a whopping 50 per cent off.
To book, call our expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627 and quote ‘Boutique’. Mr & Mrs Smith members get exclusive extras at all stays, including a bottle of manzanilla sherry or a tin of hacienda-made olive oil at Corral del Rey.