Hotel Highlights

  • Typical Andalucian finca 20 minutes from Seville
  • Beautifully renovated but in keeping with its Spanish heritage
  • Magnificent infinity pools

Overview

In the calm countryside between Seville and Jerez, Hacienda de San Rafael hotel is a poular high-season retreat with three outdoor pools and a Mediterranean restaurant set in serene candlelit gardens. A sophisticated hideaway in Spanish bullfighting country, this hacienda-style property can arrange yoga and massages upon request.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Hacienda de San Rafael with us:

A picnic, a visit to the Bodegas Gonzalez Byass, olive oil produced at the hacienda and, for guests staying in a casita, a bottle of house champagne

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

14, including three casitas.

Check–out

Midday, but ask for flexibility. There is a shower room for use by guests after check-out. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $345.27 (€250), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

At the hotel

Wireless Internet access, CD player. Massage and yoga on request.

Our favourite rooms

Rooms 6 and 8 have high ceilings and are particularly roomy; Rooms 9 and 10 are romantically tucked away in the eaves. The separate casitas offer real privacy: they're hidden from the main house and share a private pool and garden, and each casita has its own outdoor area for dining or lounging.

Poolside

There are three outdoor pools. Lunch is usually served by the garden pool.

Packing tips

Also

A picnic can be arranged for €25. The hotel has a paddle-tennis court and boules set.

Children

The hotel welcomes children only if the property is booked in its entirety.

Weddings

This property is suitable for weddings

More details

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

The indoor dining room is used in cooler weather; otherwise, dinner is served outside. Mediterranean set menu for dinner is €55 a person, including wine. The fish kebabs and the creamy blue cheese and spinach soufflé are delicious.

Hotel Bar

Luna Bar is outdoors, with music and white comfy cushions to lounge on. The Sunset Bar is next to the pool.

Room service

8.30am–midnight. There are phones for room service in the casitas.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Relaxed and informal.

Top table

Outside in the gardens.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Up in the mountains, Mesón el Tabanco in the village of El Bosque (+34 956 716 081) does excellent game dishes in a rustic setting. Egaña Oriza on Calle San Fernando in Seville (+34 954 227 211) is one of the city’s finest restaurants, serving Andalucian and Basque cuisine. Also in Jerez, La Tasca on Calle Paraíso (+34 956 31 03 40) has delicious fish and shellfish. The stew is particularly good.

Local cafés

Bar Juanito on Pescadería Vieja in Jerez (+34 956 334 838) is one of the city’s best tapas bars, with more than 50 dishes.

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Wild southern ranchland

Hacienda de San Rafael

Carretera N-IV (Km 594, Las Cabezas de San Juan, Seville Province, 41730

Planes

The nearest airports are Jerez and Seville (San Pablo), both 40 minutes away by road. Grab a taxi or hire a car at the airport.

Trains

Santa Justa station, in the centre of Seville, offers high-speed links to Madrid and Córdoba, as well as connections with Granada and Cadiz.

Automobiles

One of the hotel’s specialities is organising bespoke excursions within a 45-minute drive, but to explore the area yourself, you’ll need your own car. Hire one from the airport, and park for free at the hotel. If you're driving to the hotel for the first time, make sure to get full directions before you depart – the Hacienda isn't easily visible from the road. (It's 200 metres past the 'zona de servicio' sign before the Respol petrol station at Cruce de Las Cabezas, and the entrance is opposite the small Madisma building. Look out for the two white posts and a line of olive trees leading to the house.)

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Danielle Proud , Hip homemaker

Mrs Smith and I are cruising in eerie silence along the flatlands between Seville and Jerez. She’s brought her TomTom (the satnav system that cabbies swear by) and, thanks to Darth Vader telling us where to go, we haven’t argued once. It’s bliss, even if Vader does lend a rather surreal air to proceedings. We hang a left, down a long, dusty path that appears to be going nowher...

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Hacienda de San Rafael

Anonymous review by Danielle Proud, Hip homemaker

Mrs Smith and I are cruising in eerie silence along the flatlands between Seville and Jerez. She’s brought her TomTom (the satnav system that cabbies swear by) and, thanks to Darth Vader telling us where to go, we haven’t argued once. It’s bliss, even if Vader does lend a rather surreal air to proceedings. We hang a left, down a long, dusty path that appears to be going nowhere. The setting is idyllic – you know the scene: rolling fields of sunflowers, cotton, olive trees, waving wheat… And in the warm evening light (the honey-drenched time that film-makers call the magic hour), it’s like cruising into a Van Gogh. We swoosh past hedges of pink and white oleander, and the Hacienda de San Rafael smacks into view.

A gleaming-white, cortijo-style country house, with foot-thick walls and huge shuttered windows, the Hacienda offers grandeur without a whiff of ostentation. Two sweet-mannered Englishwomen meet us at the doorway, whisk away our bags and offer lemon iced tea. We follow them through the doorway – and past a tangle of cerise and orange bougainvillea – to a terracotta-paved courtyard. Butterflies dance around the flowers and evening birdsong fills the air. The owners are milling around and pop over for a chat. It doesn’t feel much like a hotel: it’s more like visiting a well-to-do friend’s private residence.

The Hacienda has been in the Reid family for a century and a half and, up until the Sixties, it was a working olive farm. The youngest generation, twentysomething Anthony and Patrick, run the place. They are responsible for its recent stylish makeover: blending the languorous sensuality of Spanish bullfighting country with Europhile sophistication. Mum Kuky is from nearby Jerez, and it was her dream to turn the family farm into a small guesthouse in keeping with the surrounding white villages. Her husband, Tim, worked as a hotelier with Mandarin Oriental before setting up the superbly luxurious Datai hotel in Langkawi, Malaysia. Patrick used to be a project manager at the Groucho Club in London, and Anthony organised swish safaris in Botswana. Between them, this family have all the skills to challenge any top resort – no wonder they got it so right here.

We are escorted into the communal living room, which contains a wild mix of upper-crust European and Far Eastern antiques that hints at the family’s travels. Mrs Smith, a keen reader of interior-design magazines, loves it, and throws herself down on a huge red Thai elephant sofa, before hopping up again to inspect the antique iron bull statues on the mantelpiece, and Mrs Reid’s father’s 80-year-old stirrups, which hang in a line above the fireplace. Hacienda San Rafael is a trove of fascinating treasures, and most of them have a story behind them – just get Anthony talking about his grandfather, a ‘horseman and a gentleman’ who won Jerez’s annual Horseman of Gold award too many times to keep count of.

We are staying in a casita, a meticulously converted farm building with a thatched roof, away from the main house. It’s expensive, but we do get a private terrace and infinity pool in a lovingly tended cottage garden. The main pool is spectacular, with manicured lawn, huge day beds and palm-trees for shade – it’s just that Mrs Smith and I have developed a taste for privacy.

The family’s attention to detail is what distinguishes the Haçienda de San Rafael from so many other retreats. Not only is it stunning, but there are three pools, and a full complement of staff to cater to your every whim, too. The dining experience illustrates this well. Mrs Smith is a vegetarian who likes neither eggs nor mushrooms, so eating out in Spain has previously been a pain in the posterior. There is no problem here, though, thanks to head chef Mark Dillon who whips up pumpkin and sage risotto, barbecued tofu kebabs and a delicious baked-aubergine concoction.

The food in the communal dining area is a highlight, and with the nearest café a 20-minute cab ride away, lunchtime tapas and lazy alfresco dinners at the hotel work fabulously. In fact, we spent days experiencing no urge to leave the Haçienda and its grounds, until suddenly we decided we really ought to venture out. So we trekked to Seville’s mighty 15th-century cathedral, second only in size to St Paul’s in Rome, and to the nearby Alcázar Palace and gardens – and the tapas bars in between – all well worth leaving our luxury cocoon for. Mrs Smith was so taken by the Mudéjar architecture, stuccoed patios and intricate mosaic that she had to buy an extra memory card for her camera.

For the more energetic holidaymakers, the hotel can arrange pretty much any activity. As keen riders, we were delighted to meet Cuko, Mrs Reid’s cousin and a family member with yet more hospitality credentials, who owns a private estate with 12 horses a short drive away. His morning rides through the Andalucian mountains, and picnics in the dappled light of local chestnut forests, are hard to beat. For those times when you are feeling intrepid, there’s much to do in and around the hotel: bustling Seville is a hop away; nearby Jerez has beautiful beaches and is the sherry capital of the world; and Andalucía has a long equestrian and bullfighting history.

Having found this slice of paradise, though, you’d be forgiven for just flopping by the pool and ordering a martini and a massage. Just ask Mrs Smith – she became quite the expert at this by the end of our three-day sojourn. And I can’t say I was too bad at following her lead.

This boutique hotel was reviewed by Alex Proud

The Guestbook

Reviews of Hacienda de San Rafael from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on 21 Jun 2013

We loved

We enjoyed the tranquility and slow pace of life; the staff are very attentive and helpful, and nothing was too much trouble. Breakfast was delicious every morning on the patio with your own private table and a real highlight, setting you up perfectly for the day ahead! Dinner, although a set menu, was always very well thought through and excellent!

Don’t expect

Bathroom could do with updating as no shower area is available; however, that said, the accommodation was very good and we would return again.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 21 Sep 2012

We loved

I cannot speak highly enough of this hotel. The building, the setting, the food, and the staff were second to none. In fact, during our four-day stay we only left the hotel for three hours to explore the surrounding countryside before returning. The staff were friendly and flexible and constantly cheerful. On our first 'morning' we rose at 12:30. Despite this, the staff had saved aside our breakfast and were ready with fresh coffee.

Don’t expect

The position of the hotel shown on the website is incorrect* – putting us into a field in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Directions to the Hacienda could be better and I would recommend phoning ahead to get verbal instructions.

*This has been fixed.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 13 Aug 2012

We loved

Excellent hotel — friendly staff and excellent food. Nothing too much trouble for the staff.

Don’t expect

Difficult location to find — directions and a map would have helped before arriving. The flies by the pool were a problem before discovering that the fans solved this situation — this could have been pointed out. Pity there aren't more flights to Jerez or Seville.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 24 Jul 2012

We loved

The attention to tasteful detail throughout. The professionalism of the staff and thoughtful service. The breakfasts outside and the meals by candlelight. Two pools so kids could be away from those who needed quiet. The air-conditioned 'reading room' which was both quiet and nicely furnished.

Don’t expect

Better/stronger Wi-Fi link would have been useful.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 1 May 2012


If you are looking to chill out somewhere off the beaten track and you want amazing service with a personal touch, this place is absolutely brilliant.

Rating: 8/10 stars