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CASA NUMERO SIETE HOTEL- Seville's Best-kept Secret

Within the bustling streets of Seville nestles a remarkable little hotel. Armando di Plato reveals the charms of this inviting little home-from-home.

The recently inaugurated Casa Numero Siete is a Pandora's Box of style and ambience hidden away in the enticing core of the glorious city of Seville. For those who do not know the queen of Andalucia's cities, the labyrinth that surrounds this intimate hotel is an adventure in itself. In this area of central Seville you will find some of the prettiest streets imaginable, although your sense of direction will be sorely tested. The narrow streets and alleyways are a riot of colourful geraniums aromatic jasmine providing a welcome relief from the imposing Gothic architecture of the nearby cathedral.

Casa Numero Siete hotel may bell be one of the smallest hotels in the world, but it offers something rather special to the guests of its four rarified rooms.

The inscrutable butler, dressed in gleaming livery and spotless white gloves, gives us a glimpse into an age long-lost in this technological morass into which we have so willingly leapt. Being here somehow reminds us of a long-last friend from whom we have been separated for far too long and the warmth of the reception we receive seems extremely apt.

The hotel is the brainchild of Señor Gonzalo del Rio y González-Gordon, who has finally realized his dream of refurbishing a grand scale townhouse to its former glory. The house was originally built in 1824 in the traditional Andalusian style with a central courtyard rising up the three floors. For many years, it fell into disrepair until Gonzalo bought the building and began the refurbishment in 1989, describing the process of restoration as being akin to rearing another son.

Passionately interested in interior design and an Anglophile to boot, Gonzalo has recreated an atmosphere that he hopes will meet with your approval. His ancestry has played a considerable part in this design and the influence of his Scottish grandmother is mixed with his Spanish origins within the famous González Byass family of sherry fame. He is extremely proud of his eclectic heritage and the hotel's interior is a celebration of this pride. After many years travelling worldwide to keep abreast of his various business interests, Gonzalo had become increasingly disaffected with the type of accommodation offered at most hotels and so he set about giving his own establishment the ambience of a home-from-home, a private club for the discerning traveller.

Curiously there is no reception area at Number Seven. Instead, our first experience of the interior was the gun room - which also serves as a study. Piled high with books, papers and shooting sticks, it also has the obligatory family tree on the wall.

Colour is an important and strategic element of the décor. Passing through large impressive doors, one is struck by the contrast in the lofty, glass-enclosed courtyard painted deep terracotta, with the shocking pink cushions adorning a Bergère banquette. A glimpse of deep blue decorates the fountain, whilst a richly-woven rug made in 1929 at the famous Fabrica de Alfombras, softens the effect. The symmetry is perfected by the positioning of two nineteenth century cast columns.

On the first floor, the gallery with inset alcoves in each corner, displays English etchings of country houses above red upholstered stools and shows the attention to detail which pervades the rest of the house. Leading off the gallery are the sitting room, drawing room and dining room where breakfast is served. The sitting room is cosy and intimate. Here one can quietly listen to music after a hard day's sightseeing or a stressful appointment. The furniture, upholstered with fabulous fabrics by Pepe Peñalver and Gaston y Daniela invites relaxation - feel free to kick off your shoes and pour yourself a well-deserved drink from the honesty bar.

Opposite lies the more formal drawing room painted a delicate powder blue and elaborated with fine oriental rugs and a roll-top writing desk.

The third floor houses three of the bedrooms, all individually decorated in yellow, blue and burnt sienna and all with bathrooms en-suite. Each is spacious and comfortable and serene in presentation. Much like the creator of this fine house, the guest rooms have oodles of charm. What a perfect place to stay for those who wish to savour the life-blood of the city or add an ample dose of pleasure to a business engagement in Seville.