A 16th-century palace in Carmona, Spain
We reach Casa Palacio de Carmona, our home for the next few nights, at about 3pm local time with one thing on our minds; food. We had missed lunch through the usual comedy of errors that is family travel, and having been on the road for most of the day, tempers were beginning to fray.
We stumble upon a hole in the wall tapas restaurant next to the hotel, and it's filled with locals sipping sherry and eating what is probably an “early” lunch by Spanish standards. The English menu is swiftly disregarded as we begin pointing at dishes being eaten by the people around us. As the food begins to arrive, we realise we’ve done it again. Our knack for over-ordering in Spain is proving to be exactly the double-edged sword it sounds like, both opening up a world of culinary adventure whilst also making it increasingly difficult to fit into the limited amount of clothing we’ve pack with us. Nonetheless, by the time we’ve finished with the oxtail stew, the king sized anchovies, the olives, the bread, the croquetas, the tortilla and so on, we take comfort in the fact that by our standards, it’s nearly dinner time and we’ll therefore not need to eat again today. The children can have a much-needed early night, and we can take solace in the fact that despite having over-eaten for “lunch”, we’ll have removed the need for another meal this evening.
This good feeling only amplifies as we check into the hotel, an imposing Spanish palace built by Lazaro de Briones, a captain of the Spanish army in 1561. The story goes that Lazaro was awarded an extended coat of arms from King Felipe II for his service and accomplishments in favour of the Spanish Crown during the Peruvian conquests. You can still see this coat of arms as you enter the hotel today, one of the many nods to the rich history that Casa Palacio offers.
Aside from the history, there is the service. There is a warmth that the staff possess that is immediately settling and inviting. You get the impression that you’re about to stay with distant family in their 16th century palace, which is a feeling that continues as we’re taken through the hotel and up to our room. A nice bath, a good bedtime book, and then off to hushabye mountain we go; a well laid out plan if ever there was one. But just one last display of the exceptional hospitality on offer from the good people of Casa Palacio. “We’d like to welcome you into the hotel by inviting you to join us for a wonderful 6-course dinner in our restaurant downstairs, with the children of course because what fun would it be without them. Would 9pm be ok?”. A quick team talk is called, and whilst we’ve now un-removed the need for another meal, we are here to experience the full essence of this hotel, and even if it means replacing our entire wardrobe we’ll do what it takes to accomplish this goal. 6 courses at 9pm with the children, we’ll see you there.
What follows turns out to be thoroughly worth venturing out this late for. Even with the big lunch we had mere moments ago, we end the day over a glass of beautiful local red wine, 6 delicious courses and two sleeping children tucked up nicely on the makeshift bed / dining table chairs. Perhaps we should eat out with the children at 9pm more.