Casa del Maestro hotel in Seville

Dec 3rd, 2002, 04:27 AM
  #1  
olga
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Casa del Maestro hotel in Seville


I know some of you are considering this hotel for upcoming trips and I´m thinking of giving a friend her wedding night there, so I went to visit it last night.

It´s located between Casa de Pilatos and Santa Catalina church, in a tiny pedestrianized street called Almudena, about 15 minute walk to the Cathedral, 5 minutes to the shopping district. Nice places to eat also walking distance.

What first strikes me is how small the place is. It´s got 11 rooms and the courtyard that it is arranged around is tiny, but very cute. Around it, a minute reception room and a very little lounge with a couple of sofas and an honesty bar. The decor is simple but very stylish, nice furnishings and wall colors.

The feel is that of a true sevillian traditional home. Two floors of rooms in galleries around the courtyard and a delightful rooftop terrace where you can have breakfast overlooking the Giralda and Cathedral in the distance. No elevator and a very narrow staircase, which accounts mainly for the fact that the hotel only gets one star in the official calification from the government tourism agency.

The rooms are all different and very pretty, with design furniture, high quality linens and upholstery, some of them with canopy beds. The bathrooms are decorated in flowery tiles, the toiletry sets are from Escada and there are fresh flower vases. Pretty amazing for a one star, huh?

There is evening turndown service everyday, satelite TV, individually controlled heating and airconditioned, breakfast served in the room, unless you want to have it in the rooftop terrace.

Service is very personal and familiar, like a private home. I saw the very young manager deliver some room service herself. Some people might not like this type of service, preferring the convenience of a bigger hotel with more outlets, but I know many of you are looking precisely for this type of ambiance.
Pricewise, it is at the level of most 3-4 star hotels in town, right know in low season around 110 Euros+7% tax for a double, breakfast included.

Downsides: not a lot of light in the rooms, typical of buildings in the old districts of Seville. Stairs inconvenient for a lot of luggage -did not see a bellboy, but maybe there wasn´t one on duty if they didn´t expect any more arrivals-. Service looked a bit unprofessional - the staff was not wearing uniforms or even business clothes -, in this type of places it can sometimes be a little inconsistent, too. Streets around the hotel look a little unsafe at night if you are a woman walking by yourself -most likely nothing will happen, but you get the feeling that it could-, just because there is barely anybody walking around. It is not as close to the main sights as most tourists like to be.

But in my opinion a very nice little property, with lots of character.
 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 07:22 AM
  #2  
Maribel
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Hi Olga,
As usual, you've given all of us great and very valuable insider feedback! I really appreciate this, as I have a reservation there for Semana Santa because the Casa de los Mercaderes and Casa 7 are already filled and the Baeza, Imperial and Villa de la Palmera are way, way beyond my budget during "extra season". I could switch to the Amadeus, where I have a reservation during feria. I chose the Casa del Maestro after Inns of Spain had recommended it, coupled with that glowing review in the new Time Out Andalucia guide and its flamenco theme. Since we like "small, charming, run like a private home" places and don't need extra services, we thought we would try it and then the Amadeus later. But their rates are significantly higher than those of the Amadeus. Worth the difference?
I really value your opinion and know you've also visited the Amadeus. Since I haven't seen either, would you mind comparing the two?
Also, for others, have you seen or have any insider 'scoop" on the new, more hotel-like Rey de Alfonso X in the Barrio?

Thanks very much, as always,
Maribel
 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 07:47 AM
  #3  
Maribel
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Olga,
Duh. Make that "Hotel Rey Alfonso X".
www.reyalfonsox.com
Need another coffee!
 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #4  
olga
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Dear Maribel,

I always have a hard time being organized when I write in English, so I apologize to everybody in advance, here it goes:

Casa del Maestro points:
- I really like their rooms better and their level of service seems to be higher by what I was told.
- The rooms look more comfy, there are more details.
- A night cap lying on a chaise on the rooftop looking at the Giralda all lit up while you smell the incense and hear the music from the surrounding processions in the warm April night sounds inviting to me.

Amadeus points:
-Better lobby and more nooks and crannies to hang out
-Elevator
-Better located
-More "happening", what with all their free little music evenings in the lobby and so on.
-The owner and his family run the place, whereas the owner of the Casa del Maestro lives in Madrid and hires people to run it.
-Better location, just a few steps from the Cathedral.

Tough decision, depends on your priorities and how much the price difference is.

Also, have you looked into Casas del Rey de Baeza? They are normally not much more expensive than Casa del Maestro, they are in the same area and the Casas del Rey have more services, luxuries and staff without sacrificing the ambiance. I´m sure you have seen it before, but if it hasn´t been in the past year or so, take a look at www.hospes.es . They have changed the place a lot since it left our chain.

I hope this helps make your mind up!
 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 10:38 AM
  #5  
olga
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Sorry, Maribel, I didn´t have time to read your questions properly before I answered, and I just realized you did mention Baeza being too expensive.

Also, I forgot to answer about Rey Alfonso X. I actually haven´t seen it yet, only from the outside, but a friend has and says it´s a little too businesslike. It looks sleek, modern adn minimalistic, a little Novotelish, if you know what I mean. It belongs to the same company as the Fernando III, and it is located right by it and Casas de la Juderia, in Santa María La Blanca square, which as you know is one of the best locations in town. Love that little square and its cafes, brings memories of leaving work everyday around 11 pm and it beeing still full of people, almost anytime of the year -back when I used to work in Juderia-.

Anyway, I´ll try to take another scouting trip in the next few days and report back...

 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 11:24 AM
  #6  
olga
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By the way, to Maribel and others, if you try Casas de la Juderia,Casas de los Mercaderes or other fairly small Seville hotels and they are fully booked, try to get them in one of these websites:

www.hotel-reservation-spain.com
www.hotelclub.net

There are a lot others that are connected to these, but with different names. They are always websites that give you a price including breakfast and taxes and ask you to pay upfront with your credit card, risking penalty charges if you cancel.

The good thing is they belong to a few major touroperators that hold allotments in these hotels, per contract. Although we don´t have a lot of rooms allotted for them, we run out of rooms for individual travellers pretty soon for the high season because these hotels are very popular and small. But even when we are already hanging the no vancancy sign, so to speak, some of those tour operators still have a few rooms left to sell, until sometimes just 2 weeks prior.

I have used these websites for my own personal reservations in other cities and they work great, with substantial savings. I got the Carmen, a 4 star downtown Granada hotel last year for 60$ breakfast and tax included !

I only recomend reconfirming with the hotel directly by phone or fax afterwards, and asking for a nice room, since being very low rates they probably wouldn´t assign you the nicest room unless you do that. Also if you have special requests, like bed type, etc. also communicate it directly, I´ve seen a lot of screwups with those because of the middlemen.

Sorry for the long post! I hope it helps somebody.
 
Dec 3rd, 2002, 03:52 PM
  #7  
Maribel
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Hi Olga,
Thanks so much for so much detail. Once again, you're the best!

You confirmed exactly what I suspected about the Rey Alfonso X: sleek, cold, minimalist, business-like, no nonsense, no distinct personality. And I thought from the pictures that it was very close to the Fernando III (which I really don't like so much) and the Juderia, also Modesto, my favorite place for pescaito frito and coquinas

Lots of food for thought regarding those two new hotel choices. Actually, the Casas de la Juderia (tried and true) is available too at a lower tariff than the Casa del Maestro, but I thought I should branch out and try something new for a change.
We'll see.
And also thanks for the other booking sites to use when the small hotels tell you they're fully booked. I didn't know of them.

Olga, you're a tremendous resource for all those planning visits to Andalucia.
Thanks again!
Regards,
Maribel
 
Dec 4th, 2002, 12:37 AM
  #8  
olga
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You´re most welcome, Maribel. I´m glad I can pay you back a little for all the wealth of information I learn from your comments.
I hope to be able to travel to the North of Spain soon so I can use all your great tips.
When will you write "Maribel´s Guide to Spain"? Just with this forum´s posters I assure you you´d have plenty readers!

Funny to know you are fan of coquinas, too. They are my favourite, since I´m allergic to most seafood since age 20.
Tragic, here in Spain, isn´t it?
 
May 12th, 2003, 12:36 PM
  #9  
 
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Isn't it interesting to eaves drop on a conversation between the experts?
Myer is online now  
May 12th, 2003, 06:35 PM
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Hi Myer and Olga,
Our hotel report:

We've just returned from our Amdalucia trip and had a wonderful (truly terrific!) stay at La Casa del Maestro. We simply adored the place in every way (it fit us perfectly) but realize that it's not necessarily for the first time traveler to Sevilla and not for type A personalities (breakfast is never served a minute before 9, and from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. guests are entirely on their own). Didn't see any fellow Americans; strictly an all Spanish guest list.
It's everything that Olga has described so well, but the impact ends up being much greater than the sum of its parts. We occupied the "Tierra Minera' room on the 2nd floor (no elevator), which was large, airy, light and exquisitely decorated (I was afraid of running into and tipping over the huge and priceless, exquisite Moroccan ceramic vase tucked into the corner). The immaculate bath with its lovely handpainted tiles and Escada products, wonderful power shower, comfy robes and thick towels was a delight. All the rooms have been beautifully, lovingly decorated by the owner's wife, who must have very deep pockets (the owner is the grandson of famed flamenco guitarist, Nino Ricardo and Flamenco World uses it for their small group tours)-some rms have interior patios and several are huge. Other than our room, I liked the Almoradi and El Emigrante best. (www.lacasadelmaestro.com).
The sweet young man on duty in the evening couldn't have been more helpful (as we left one night, he put an umbrella in our hands warning us that it just might rain), and he spent a great deal of time painstakingly mapping out the processions for us so that we could hit every one on Maundy Thursday evening with relative ease. He was truly charming. The white jacketed butler brought us a lovely breakfast of homemade bread, jams, cereals, fresh o.j., fruit and coffee every morning to our room or to the rooftop terrace, as we pleased and left us chocolates and a pitcher of ice water at turndown each evening, along with the weather report. My husband took endless photos and loved the suits of lights given to the owner by El Cordobes and Javier Conde. We also enjoyed spending time in the evenings perusing the many brochures and relaxing in the tiny living room, as if we were in our own home.
Although the streets around the hotel may look on first appearance a bit unsafe, it was actually a very safe, middle class family neighborhood (no botellon crowd, no junkies, NO pickpockets) with terrific tapas bars such as the venerable El Rinconcillo (the oldest tapas bar in Sevilla where they still keep your tab by writing it in chalk on the anicent wood counter) and Coloniales (exquisite cuisine) just a few blocks away.
The well dressed staff couldn't have been more thoughtful or nicer, and they gave me a copy of the new Rusticae guide and treated us to bottles of their private label Rioja. All in all a wonderful experience, and we shall return.

In the neighborhood, we did have the chance to check out Casas del Rey de Baeza, which immediately impressed my husband when he saw the enormous #9 standard double room with its high definition tv and little balcony plus the many sitting rooms downstairs with their comfy ultra modern design leather sofas and the beautiful restaurant. Lots of nooks and crannies and 4-5 interior patios to enjoy. The black-suited staff with impeccable English is "snap to" professional besides being very friendly, and the rooftop pool area with views of the Giralda just glorious- a real eye catcher. Another that gets my very highest recommendation, particularly for summer visits when the rates are highly competitive. I would send honeymooners there in a hearbeat. It's also a very quiet location around the corner from the Casa de Pilatos and has its own parking, a huge plus.

The 5 star Casa Imperial for us was a major disappointment since our last visit. Indifferent staff, sloppy maintenance, dark rooms, difficult parking but still high tariffs. I sadly can no longer recommend it. Hope some poster has had a recent positive experience that could change my mind.

The Alfonso X didn't have much of a distinct identity (or care to have one), we thought. Sleek, modern, spic and span but stark and lacking something-kind of cold. After a full year in business they still don't have a brochure, and we were told by the befuddled desk staff that we should make reservations there by going through the owner, the Hotel Fernando III, next door. When it gets its act together, maybe...
Great location though.

But the cute little Amadeus we also found very pleasant on a more modest scale. The extremely nice gentleman who works nights takes great pride in the place, and it's a lovely budget option, I think. The rooftop terrace (actually slightly nicer than the one at the Casa del Maestro, as it's closer to the cathedral) is particularly pleasant and the musical theme, plus special musical events, a plus. The location, within a stone's throw of Modesto for the best pescaito frito in all of Seville (me thinks), la Carboneria for impromptu flamenco, in the heart of the Barrio Santa Cruz, but yet tucked away, can't be beat. Just don't try to reach it in a car! But I wouldn't book the one room on the ground floor behind the sitting room, as there's a lack of privacy and it's rather narrow, but the atico and jr. suite are very much worth the modest splurge. We liked it a lot and thought it had soul.

The Casa de la Juderia keeps getting better. It's a perfect option, I think, for the first time visitor, as it provides lots of touring info, the garage is super handy (just drive up and they'll come to your rescue and take the car down the narrow passageway and slip it into the underground garage where you can forget about it.), it has a handy restaurant for early dining, a nice piano bar and an unbeatable location plus the guide books proclaim it one of Seville's great values. Lots of bang for the buck.
But don't forget about the lovely, beautifully decorated, airy and very well run Casas de los Mercaderes!
Hope this helps those who are searching for lodging in Sevilla.
Maribel is online now  
May 13th, 2003, 04:11 AM
  #11  
 
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Great info, Maribel, as usual.
I hope your trip was great, I'm sorry I missed you.
By the way, did you see the special issue of Casa Y Campo magazine about country hotels? I just got it the other day and it's great!
It features also a couple of city hotels like Las Casas del Rey de Baeza.

Good to have you back.
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May 13th, 2003, 04:59 AM
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Hi Olga,
I'm really sorry I missed you too. We went by the hotel Easter Sunday afternoon to say hello, but your two very nice gentlemen colleagues were working the front desk. I should have left a note-I promise to do better next time! We had a wonderful time in your beautiful city and long to return ASAP!

Darn, I missed the Casa y Campo issue! I'll look for it here at Borders or have a sister-in-law buy and save me a copy. What I did buy was the April Habitania, that has the super supplement, "hoteles con alma". I want to try each and every one of them, expecially the "Ibaizar" agrotourism near Amurrio in Alava. it will make a perfect post San Fermin hideway for July.

I'm headed to Kansas City tomorrow, Seville's sister city, as you very well know! When are you coming back to visit?

Regards,
Maribel
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May 13th, 2003, 08:35 AM
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That was close, Maribel! I wasn't supposed to work Easter Sunday, but I went for a couple of hours. I must have just left when you stopped by...
I did get the Habitania as well, handy booklet, isn't it?
Unfortunately, we won't go back to Kansas City until next year. It's my inlaws turn to spend the summer in Spain so we are renting a house in Costa de la Luz.
I sure miss the amazing BBQ! I highly recomend you go to the Jackstack in Overland Park if you are a BBQ nut like me. Enjoy!
olga is offline  
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