Balcón de Cordoba captures the essence of Andalucia. The scent of orange blossom, the sound of a trickling fountain in a courtyard, the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. Add to that a cosy patio restaurant; charming guest rooms; and terrace views out across the impressive Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, and you have the boutique hotel Balcón de Cordoba, writes Andrew Forbes.
The hotel was my tranquil refuge during my spring visit to the centre of Cordoba’s vibrant medieval old town. Pass through the classical entrance archway to the Orange Tree Courtyard, a shaded Cordobes patio, and you escape the other tourists and enter an enchanting world of quintessential Andalucia.
Take a siesta on your private terrace; sip a Jerez wine on the roof balcony; or dine under the shade of the orange tree – it’s the way to feel the spirit of this city.
I get to see so many hotels, in many different cities. It’s a privilege, for sure; yet it can also mean I often focus on details and miss the bigger picture – the importance of allowing oneself to just be immersed in a destination.
The quintessential Andalusian experience
Yet at boutique hotel Balcón de Cordoba that certainly wasn’t the case. As soon as I swung open the decorate wrought iron gate and walked across the central stone-cobbled patio courtyard I was seduced. I just became embraced by the charm, and delightful style of this city hotel.
Cordoba is one of my favourite Spanish cities. It’s in the heart of Andalucia, not just geographically, but also historically and culturally. It is a real delight to explore. The modern regional capital is thoughtfully developed and well-served by the new motorway network, and the high-speed AVE train service, making it an easy addition to a visit to Madrid, Barcelona or Malaga.
It’s the World Heritage old town that is the big draw, home to historic Andalusian architecture, and classic, flower-filled patios; as well as the extraordinary Mosque-Cathedral. This remarkable architectural wonder is a must to visit – to stroll amongst the ancient columns and arches of red jasper, white marble and dark onyx and then enter the renaissance Basilica is unforgettable. There is a bookable evening tour, with a sound a light show – quite spectacular.
It is here, in the ancient the medina and old Jewish quarter, down age-old cobbled pedestrian streets, that one finds the hotel Balcón de Cordoba.
A city hotel that is welcoming and peaceful and offers exceptional views from the roof terrace out across the domes, towers and rooftops of this historic place.
Balcony over Cordoba
The hotel really is a balcony overlooking this city. It’s steps away from the Mosque, and the main sights of old town, and its orientation means that the roof terrace and some suites also look out across the romantic city skyline.
Check-in was friendly and personal, as one might expect from an intimate hotel. After being offered a glass of sparkling cava, and a still wine we listened as Maria at front desk not only introduced us to the main aspects of the hotel, but took time to present Cordoba, and give us some real insider tips of good places to eat, and what to see. It’s the kind of check-in that really defines a hotel that has a motivated, caring team.
With just 10 rooms, (5 doubles, 1 deluxe, 1 junior suite, 2 suites, 1 royal suite) the Balcón de Cordoba is most c certainly boutique, creating a guest experience that is personalised. Firstly, each room is distinctive, by the peculiarities of this beautiful 400-year-old building. Layout, orientation and size differ with each space. Some have large private terraces; others generous living rooms. All share the same specifications, with thoughtful decoration, in muted tones, period features and modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi, AC, minibar, room-service and pillow menu.
On the ground floor are three patio courtyards, the last of which, ‘the courtyard of the flowers’ provides privileged access to one of the most well-known squares in the city. Step out early in the morning, before the visitors have arrived and you will be surrounded by the colour of flowers and terracotta pots, and afforded one of the best views in Cordoba, down the narrow street to the tower of the Mosque-Cathedral.
Antiques and artefacts
Glancing an ancient inscription, seeing some Moorish tiles, or discovering ancient columns is the other distinction of the hotel. One hundred or more artefacts can be discovered around the property. The Department of Archaeology of Andalucía’s regional government, together with and the City Council of Córdoba, has provided items of historical significance from across the area.
Yet, really the best aspect of the hotel is the staff – friendly, genuine and knowledgeable about their city.
I couldn’t think of a more relaxing place for an Andalusian urban explorer to kick back and relax. Waking to the scent of azahar orange blossom and the chimes of the cathedral bells, was like a dream.
The suite had stylish vintage floor to ceiling iron windows that allowed the living area to be flooded with light. The eclectic, yet elegant mix of antiques and period furniture created a warm and welcoming ambiance. Unique details were at every turn, from the carved doors, to the crystal candles sticks.
The bathroom was well appointed and had local olive oil-based amenities, plum bathrobes and an abundance of storage space; whilst the clawfoot bathtub in the bedroom was a romantic, decadent touch.
If you haven’t experienced Cordoba, then you have yet to be embraced by the spirit of Andalucia. Walk a few metres from the hotel’s entrance and you will be strolling past centuries of history which tell some of Europe’s most compelling stories, that includes the Romans, the Moors and the Catholic Monarchs.
From the medieval Islamic mosque and the renaissance cathedral, one can walk under a Roman Triumphal Arch and walk across one of the most impressive roman bridges in the world.
For a flavour of the city, the hotel’s restaurant can prepare some classics of southern Spain.
Also, when heading out it’s easy to avoid the tourist traps, to find authentic bars with plenty of character. I stumbled across Jugo Vinos Vivos, a small organic wine store where you can stop and chat about Spanish wines, whilst enjoying a glass with fresh local bread and regional cheeses.
Taberna del Rio overlooks the nighty River Guadalquivir, and despite its proximity to the main sights of the city, has a real charm and offers an excellent menu. Look out for regional specialities include slow roasted ox-tail (rabo de toro); thick cold tomato soup (salmorejo) that’s very distinctive of the Cordoba’s kitchen; and, a pork and cheese fritter called a ‘flamenquin’.
For world-class fine-dining then it must be ‘Noor’, a Michelin star restaurant that celebrates the city’s Moorish heritage with contemporary dishes that offer the aromas and flavours of the past.
Balcón de Cordoba is certainly amongst my favourite hotels in Spain – it really makes a city break into a relaxing and authentic experience.
Calle Encarnación 8
14003 Córdoba. España.
T: +34 957 498 478