Cherished Sevillian icon 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.
The designers have woven together a full-bloodied narrative, drawing on the vivid history and culture of Andalucia as well as the inheritance and soul of the grand dame herself.
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 Gallery has crafted a seductive story by carefully conserving and enhancing the old and combining this with beautiful new features, taking the Luxury Collection hotel forward into the next era of glamour.
The open double-height reception space is adorned with gleaming and intricately patterned marble floors; dramatic marble stairs; bas-relief decorated crown mouldings; a rich coffered ceiling from which hangs gorgeous 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. In this case, The Gallery took exact measures of the location of each socket in the lobby to understand the constraints and options for relocating furniture. The reception desk has now been dressed in crimson leather panels embossed with the hotel’s logo. Large, original azulejos – the ornate ceramic tiles native to Seville – are hand-painted with a vivid azure and mustard palette which inspired the lobby’s new and reupholstered furnishings.
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. Bodega Alfonso, by contrast, clearly belongs to old Seville with its Moorish forms, its traditional and rich colour palette, weathered oak planks fixed with iron rivets that form the bar and a majestic painting of King Alfonso XIII staring down over proceedings.
Guests may also chill-out poolside or experience the casual Moorish style of the new Taifas restaurant and bar. As this existing free-standing building was not connected to the main hotel, The Gallery was given free creative license for the transformation of this former utility space into a stylish venue. Rich timber wine cabinets fitted with antique brass screens cabinets sit behind the Carrara marble topped bar, and the ceiling is embellished with an ornately patterned plaster lattice ceiling. 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 as 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.
Inge Moore, Principal of The Gallery and HBA London, summarises the design team’s experience, “With the restoration of the legendary Hotel Alfonso XIII, we were given both an exceptional challenge and opportunity to enhance the soul of this beloved treasure, a must-see architectural landmark in its own right. Our research into the stories of Seville’s layered heritage and reimagining of the hotel invites guests to join in the discovery of the passionate Andalucian culture through a design abundant with the best of today’s comforts.”