This was our third and final parador stay (family of five travelling from Madrid to Marbella), and it has to be said, that each one got progressively better! Perched high above the Sevillan plains on the edge of the picturesque town of Carmona, this was the most impressive architecturally of the three paradors and we loved it from the minute of our arrival. Much of the exterior of the building dates from the 14th century when it was originally an Arab fortress and evidence of this parador's Moorish antecedents are everywhere albeit the building has been completely modernized throughout. The communal areas are simply fabulous - dramatic red wall coverings in one reception room, internal courtyard with mosaic tiles and fountains, high ceilings throughout and a pretty terrace overlooking the pool area for relaxing and having a pre or post-prandial drink. What more could one ask for? Some reviewers have criticised the fact that the pool area is quite distant from the main hotel and certainly, you have to negotiate several flights of steps in order to reach the pool, however, these are wooden steps, they are gently graduated and caused us no bother (obviously people with serious physical disabilities would find this an issue and the parador doesn't appear to have any faciities to address this). Once you're down at the pool, it's great. The sunloungers are cleverly set out in such a way as to enable sunbathers to avail themselves of sol y sombra throughout the day - the beds are positioned under a fixed stone-built canopied structure. The pool is great and even though it became very busy during late afternoon, it never felt too crowded. We ate in the parador one night and it was the best meal that we had had during our five-night parador odyssey. The service was a bit perfunctory but we had come to expect that - Spanish standards of service leave a lot to be desired. We didn't eat breakfast on either morning as the first morning we were away at the crack of dawn for a day's sightseeing in Seville (avoid Seville in August at all costs if you can - never again, it's way too hot. We got out when the mercury hit 40 degrees - sightseeing becomes too hard core at that point!). Anyway, back to the Parador. It's a spectacular building, our rooms were lovely and the views over the plains were wonderful. Don't pay any attention to those negative comments about the farm animals disrupting people's sleep - you're in the middle of the country. What do you expect? The only downside on the first night was that I was woken up in the early hours (actually it was probably around 4 or 5 am by some noise overhead. I thought it might be an over-active air conditioning unit or maybe somebody cleaning the terrace which was directly overhead.) Anyway, this was the only nit that I could pick - the second night was fine. It is my intention to go back again to Carmona and stay in the parador during more temperate weather - again, walking around in the high 30s is not very pleasant. This is a wonderful place to stay - very romantic, but even our cynical, hard to please teenagers thought it was great. All in all, the highlight of our trip!
Avoid rooms underneath the outside terrace - there was some kind of noise that kept me awake for hou...
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