Hacienda San Rafael

Las Cabezas de San Juan, Seville, Spain Book from Book from £273 per night

A fabulous cortijo-style hotel with blissful gardens and heaps of character, just a hop away from Seville and Andalucia's white villages
Beguiling San Rafael stands in glorious isolation between Seville and Jerez, amidst rolling fields of wheat, sunflower and cotton. The Reid family have owned this former olive farm for nearly a century and a half; the latest generation, Anthony and Patrick, have pulled it right to the top of the ‘hip hideaway’ rankings after a recent makeover. The feel-good factor cuts in from the moment you’re greeted, at a bougainvillea-clad entrance portal, by one of the staff with a glass of chilled fino or, in the warmer months, with a fresh lemonade or iced lemongrass tea.

The guest rooms and casitas are huge with a gorgeous commingling of antiques, modern art and base elements of the original cortijo: terracotta tile, wafer bricking, massively thick walls, shuttered windows. They have private terraces, rich fabrics and rugs, freshly cut flowers and sparkling, open-plan bathrooms. You are pampered at every turn - fabulous gardens, superb food and a choice of three pools secreted away amongst groves of lemon, pomegranate, olive, and carob. You could easily while away your holiday in this blissful oasis, but allow some time for exploring too; there's a whole book of fascinating excursions, carefully curated to take in Andalucia's highlights: day trips to Seville, Ronda and the white villages, culinary tours, sherry tasting, birdwatching... the list is endless.

Highs

  • Guests come first. Anthony is the perfect host and staff work around what you want; everybody gets VIP treatment at San Rafael
  • Bedrooms, drawing rooms and dining room are high on grandeur - there are antiques everywhere
  • Choose between any number of different corners to chill: the Sunset or Lunar bar, your private terrace, a lounger in the shade of an olive tree
  • The food and wine are outstanding, our latest revisit revealed seasonal produce and fabulous Mediterranean influences
  • Although the hacienda is rural, you're within day-trip distance of so many Andalucian sights and beaches, and there are heaps of excursions to choose from

Lows

  • San Rafael isn't cheap but the high price tag is more than justified
  • You’re out in the sticks and will probably need a car to get around. However, Seville, the sherry bodegas of Jerez, Doñana with its prolific birdlife and the Atlantic beaches are all an easy drive away
  • Likewise, you’ll need to jump in a car if you are planning to eat out
  • This part of Spain gets really hot in summer, but the farm’s prominent position ensures it catches the breeze and the massively thick walls of the original hacienda keep temperatures cool
  • Some might find the room decor a little dated, but it's in keeping with the traditional grandeur of the building

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are the best times to be at San Rafael. Some people might find mid-summer something of an ordeal, even if fans and air-conditioning mean you’ll still be comfortable. It would be great to be here during the Seville feria (April/May), in April when the wildflowers are at their best or in early summer when the local romerias (religious festivals) are in full swing.

Our top tips

Anthony is a mine of information about Andalucia and is really keen to help his guests get the most out of the region. Chat to him about what you want to see and do and he'll tailor trips to your desires.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 14
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Children of all ages are welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Deluxe

Rooms

San Rafael's Deluxe Rooms are in the main hacienda building, wrapped round a lovely inner, bougainvillaea-clad courtyard. These are large split-level rooms with either twin or double beds, a sitting area and their own slice of terrace where you're welcome to have any of your meals. All have been conceived with a maximum of cosseting comfort and intimacy in mind. Beds are big with Egyptian cotton sheets, Indian bedspreads, very comfortable mattresses and duck feather duvets. Most have both a bathtub and a separate shower and a stylish mix of old and new in decorative detail.

A discreet distance from the main house, some Casitas (thatched cottages) have been created in the garden. Ideal for honeymooners, these are larger and more luxurious than the Deluxe Rooms (phone, minibar, music system) and have their own shared infinity pool. Exuberant stands of mimosa, lavender and eucalyptus ensure a maximum of privacy and each has its own thatched chozita for shade dining. All have gorgeous, high-ceilinged living rooms and massive bedrooms. There are slick, slate-walled showers as well as a bathtub and double sinks in the open-plan bathrooms. The thatch of the roof, Indian bedspreads and other oriental memorabilia evoke the lodge-style hotels of South-East Asia: photos from the Reid’s family albums remind you that you’re in Andalucia.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • CD player
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Every meal is a feast at San Rafael, and a movable one in the strict sense of the word: dining might take place by candlelight on your own terrace, in the dining room or beneath the stars on the east or west terraces at a linen-draped table. The food has oodles of aesthetic and culinary appeal - a blissful change to the run-of-the-mill offerings of so many of Andalucia’s hotels.

Set three-course dinners change by the day, following the dictates of the season, and can always be crafted to individual requirements. On our most recent visit, we were treated to homemade ravioli with spinach, followed by juicy duck with mashed potato, green beans and a sticky Pedro Ximenez sauce, then apple tart with coconut ice cream to finish. It was by far the best meal we had on our entire trip. Wine, mineral water and coffee are included in the set price.

Lunches are also served - a reduced à la carte menu - by the pool. The included breakfast is of the continental variety with fresh orange juice, cereals, creamy yoghurt and local honey, a bread basket with locally-baked rolls and croissants and homemade jams. Extras are fruit salads, eggs and bacon, ham and cheese, smoothies and yoghurt.

Don't expect gourmet dining in the local restaurants, but if you're looking for local flavour you'll find plenty of it just down the road: at Manolo Mayo in Dos Hermanas. A little further afield, Besana in Utrera and El Frasquito in Espera offer more refined cuisine. The Reid family have a sister hotel in Seville and know all of its best restaurants, should you need recommendations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Chill-out by the swimming pools, in the spacious gardens and beneath shady verandas.
  • Visit historic Seville, Carmona and Cadiz, or the white villages of Arcos or Sanlúcar - all of them are an easy drive away.
  • Head off to Donana Park for the day with one of the Reid family’s trusted ornithological guides.
  • Visit the Royal Equestrian School in Jerez and see some of the finest horses in Europe being put through their balletic paces. Combine it with a guided tour of one of the many world-famous sherry bodegas.
  • The Grazalema Park is less than an hour away, with some of the most dramatic walking in southern Spain - guided walks can be arranged.
  • You’re within reach of the Atlantic coast and some of the best beaches in southern Spain; the sailing is also good round here.
  • Take a horse riding safari through Andalucia; the stables are 10 minutes away.
  • Choose between five different golf courses - the nearest is 25 minutes’ drive.
  • Indulge in a massage in the garden or in your room.
  • Adventure activities in the area include hot-air ballooning, hunting, canyoning, 4x4, spelunking and hiking.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Sailing
  • Tennis

Kids

Even though San Rafael feels best suited to couples, kids are made very welcome. Cots and high chairs are available for babies whilst the three-course set meals can be catered to children's needs at a substantially reduced price. Pasta, pizza or burgers or simple fish and chicken dishes can always be prepared - just ask.

Family friendly accommodation:

Two of the Casitas can sleep up to four (with a double bed plus one single bed and one single sofabed). Most of the Deluxe Doubles have space for one extra bed and all rooms can fit a cot.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and a high chair are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Location

Hacienda San Rafael is near the village of Las Cabezas de San Juan, midway between Seville and Jerez in Andalucia, Spain.

By Air
Jerez De La Frontera (45km) is the nearest airport, but Seville Airport (55km) is also close.

From the Airport
Once in Seville or Jerez, you can take a taxi. It may be useful to hire a car, as the Hacienda is quite remote. See our car rental recommendations.

By Train
The Spanish high-speed trains are excellent: the AVE trains operate on the Madrid-Cordoba-Seville route (it takes only 2.5 hours from Madrid). Many other routes are available.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Jerez De La Frontera 45.0 km XRY
  • Seville San Pablo 55.0 km SVQ

Other:

  • Beach 45.0 km
  • Shops 35.0 km
  • Restaurant 30.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We very much enjoyed our stay, the staff made a big effort to look after us, the food (especially lunch and dinner) was excellent and the surroundings are beautiful. In early October it was lovely to be able to sit in the sun and swim every day. We had an excellent day out with one of the Hacienda’s guides Gerry Corbett, hiking and exploring the Sierra de Grazalema.

9/10,

I loved this place. The experience of the hacienda was very much as described by i-escape. Gorgeous rooms with amazingly comfortable beds, beautiful surroundings, lovely staff and delicious food. Even on a rainy day, we sat by the fire, drank red wine, read books and ate nice food. A perfect retreat when you're looking for rest and relaxation.

10/10,

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