Tucked in the back streets of an Andalucían hilltop town, behind sandy burnt orange walls is not the place you'd expect to find a five-star hotel.
But in Carmona, the Guardiola family have successfully transformed a shabby palazzo into an opulent luxury hotel, while preserving the old-fashioned charm of the building's aristocratic heritage.
And the new aristocracy, the celebs, such as George Lucas, BB King and Mario Testino, have flocked to the retreat. Built in 1561, the dilapidated palazzo was bought in 1986 by Felipe Guardiola who spent five years renovating the shell. The result is 30 distinctive rooms, with four-poster beds, candles and Moorish wood carvings.
In any of the four inner courtyards you can smell the scent of jasmine, see the orange trees bursting with Sevillian fruit and listen to the fountains gurgle. As well as a pool sheltered from the fierce Spanish heat, the hotel offers a cosy bar and a library with antique furniture, backgammon and chess.
Felipe, a charming, multi-talented host, cooks sumptuous food in the hotel's restaurant Gracia Real, including delicious paellas - vegetarian if requested. There's a distinguished wine list from the hotel's cellar.
Carmona is a bustling Roman town, with lively bars, restaurants, an amphitheatre, magnificent gates, the largest necropolis outside Rome and 14 churches.
The jewel of Andalucía, Seville - served daily by new Spanish budget airline Vueling - is an easy 30 minute drive, with the airport just 15 mins from the hotel.
RATES: from €100
TEL: 0034 954 191 000