PRESS SECTION - Food and Wine


Where to stay

In the past, snickering staff and guest quarters sombre enough for the Grand Inquisitor made a stay at Alfonso XIII as enticing as a night on the rack. But Westin, which now manages this opulent 1929 Neo-Moorish Grande dame, has changed that; Bellhops are smiling, rooms have gotten facelifts, and the extravagantly tiled hallways gleam (2 San Fernando; 011-34-95-7000; doubles from $360). A scion of the Gonzales Byass sherry family, the Anglophile owner of the new Casa No 7 hotel is fond of afternoon tea, Jack Russell terriers, British antiques and autographed photographs of royalty. There are no minibars or TVs in the half dozen rooms, but there's plenty of sherry and stiff-upper-lip chitchat in the robin's egg blue salon. The folks at Tatler were sufficiently smitten to grace it with the magazine's award for the best small hotel of 2001 (7 Virgenes: 0034 95422 1581; doubles from $160). The search for a perfectly situated B&B ends at Amadeus, which opened on a narrow lane in the evocative Santa Cruz quarter. The lovable owner is a classical music fanatic, which explains the grand piano and soundproof practice rooms for visiting virtuosos. Some smaller rooms are a bit penitentiary but ask for something muy grande when you book and you'll be more than comfortable - even if awakened by strains of Albèniz or Liszt .