Scribbler in Seville

Gala night at the Alfonso XIII

A few nights ago I went to the (re)opening party of the Alfonso XIII hotel here in Seville.

This venerable establishment, a landmark and icon of the city, the grande dame of Seville’s social scene, had received a major make-over. It reopened less officially in March, when I got to look around.

The event had a formal dress code, which meant long dresses for ladies. I dug out a 15-year-old Ghost number from the back of my cupboard and jazzed it up with an equally ancient sequinned jacket (though it was so hot, I ended up using it as a sparkly shawl).

Arriving at the Alfonso XIII on a balmy May evening. The hotel’s Director, Carlo Zuffredini, is the tux on the left.

As I walked up to the hotel’s portico, I saw the paparazzi amassed and the red carpet in place for my arrival. How thoughtful.

Then, entering the lobby, there was a welcoming committee of footmen and flamencas, holding trays with glasses of champagne, which gave just the right impression of history, tradition, luxury and Sevillano-ness.

I found my “date”, fellow blogger Sevilla Tapas, and we were the first to head out to the patio, where more uniformed staff awaited with bottles of Möet et Chandon. As more guests started to arrive, the temperature rose – it was already a warm evening – due to a shade over the patio, which prevented air from circulating. The women, in full-length slinky evening dresses, fared better than the men, suffering in their black tie jackets.

We caught up with old friends and met new ones – often known already through Twitter and Facebook, but not in person – as the champagne flowed, copiously. A beautiful, historic setting, interesting company, first-class bubbly, party atmosphere… All that was missing was some food. By this point feeling peckish, I inquired of several waiters, who assured me it would be out soon. When no sustenance was forthcoming, I cut out the middleman and went to harass a chef who was lurking nearby. He told me that protocolo dictated that no victuals could be provided till after the speeches, and that they were waiting for a Very Important Guest.

Half an hour later, this rather tipsy and, by now, extremely hungry blogger had turned into Loud Drunk Woman. The type whom most men profess to loathe. I (and they) were saved by the appearance of a (male) opera singer on the balcony, who serenaded his female counterpart as she walked among the crowd with a microphone headpiece. My normal instinct to capture this memorable scene deserted me, due to the previously mentioned inebriation/starvation situation (Sevilla Tapas, ever the consummate iPhone professional, caught it all, and tweeted it too). I think some people made speeches – the hotel’s director and the mayor, possibly – while I kept an eagle eye out for any sneaky canapés.

Then a soldier in 18th-century dress materialised and explained that food was now being served in the garden.

Outside, with fresh air now flowing, we found tables groaning with everything from jamon to sushi to oysters, grilled meats and fish, and even pizza. All this was served around the pool, with the gardens of palm trees and tiled benches floodlit, and the building itself glowing pink. The whole effect gave a very Marbella-like feel, on a lavish scale which I haven’t experienced before in Sevilla.

Flamenco dancers stomped and whooped on a stage, to the delight of the now well-fed and watered assembled great and good, including various local celebrities: TV personality and theatre impresario Jesus Quintero; one half of design duo Victorio Lucchino; model Raquel Revuelta; and a smattering of aristocrats (though not, unfortunately, the Duquesa de Alba).

Scribbler in Seville does low-key formal; the glam touch, a sequinned jacket, was too heavy for such a warm night.

On the way out, we came upon two chocolate fountains (one white and one milk). At the risk of sounding picky, I loved the fruit which you dipped in it rather more than the stuff itself, which was very gloopy and didn’t taste nice. I’m a 70% dark person, so this was like giving an alcoholic a small, weak shandy.

In all, despite my whinges, it was a full-on, first-class party, with music, food, drink and entertainment fit for a king – appropriately enough since that’s exactly who the Alfonso XIII was built for.

15 thoughts on “Gala night at the Alfonso XIII

    1. theartichokeadventures

      Well, I once went there for a drink I think it was ’90 or ’91. The MD of the company I worked for was staying there and I had to take him to see a project we had in Las Marismas and in Arcos de la Frontera. But I stayed in another hotel(cant remember which). I do remember it was April and 34ºC!!! and Iberia had lost my suitcase!!

      1. Fiona Flores Watson

        It probably hasn’t changed much since then, Paddy – the furniture has different fabric on it and the new bar is quite snazzy, but the Alfonso XIII will never be much different!

  1. Frank Burns

    What a great evening to be invited to. I take it the invitation was by virtue of you being a local journalist/blogger/facebooker/tweeter…….and might spread some good publicity?

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  3. Lucy

    Great blog, I’ll be looking through it for some tips as I’m coming to Seville next month and reviewing the Alfonso XIII among other things!