Seville's city centre is a shopper's delight, with a range of smart and savvy outlets that will have you reaching for your credit card
Shopping may not be top of your list when you visit Seville, city of light and orange blossom, stunning monuments and whitewashed streets, flamenco, bullfighting and any number of other attractions. But give the stores a miss at your peril: the city is stuffed full retail delights, most of them close to the lovely and historic centre.
Not that it was always like this. Not so long back, the Andalusian capital was home to rows of lacklustre outlets offering traditional lace and flamenco outfits, dull-looking leather goods and not much more. Recently, though, the Seville shopping experience has morphed into a pleasure, thanks to an ever-expanding collection of style-savvy streets with boutiques screaming ‘Attention shoppers!’
It all kicks off near the cathedral. Traditionally, Calle Sierpes was the epicentre of Seville’s retail district but things have moved slightly south with the opening of a FNAC store on Avenida de la Constitución. The French entertainment retailer has brought its trendy cultural megastore-with-a- difference to the Sevillanos amid a wave of openings across the country, and the locals have taken it to their hearts.
The avenida itself has undergone a makeover, with the opening of a new tram system that has given the city a fresh, forward-thinking feel. Tradition is still important, though, as the display of bullfighting and feria images adorning the FNAC building shows.
At the northern end of the avenida is the Plaza Nueva, which has become the address for local fashionistas. Designer royalty in these parts is the Andalusian pairing of Victorio and Lucchino. They’re not afraid to show their roots and the flamenco spirit is an ongoing theme in their collections; this season’s offerings are all ruffles and slashed hemlines with a modern edge.
Also on the plaza are other Spanish legends, Purificación Garcia and Loewe. Purificación has shops and concessions across the country offering strong, clean and stylish lines in beautiful fabrics that will have you reaching for your credit card. Legendary Spanish label Loewe has seen a recent injection of life with the arrival of British designer Stuart Vevers at the helm. Loewe is generally better known for accessories rather than the clothes collection and the Seville store is indeed a mecca for leather-lovers.
Coming down a notch to the more affordable, there’s a vast selection of shoe shops in and around Calle Tetuán (it’s easy to find from Plaza Nueva). Seville favourite Paco Rodriguez (half a dozen stores around Sierpes and Tetuán) sells a mix of traditional and contemporary styles for men and women including must-have Spanish brand, Camper. Camper has its own stylish outlet at Tetuán, 24.
The prize for flamboyancy and sheer fabulousness has to go to Ziros, nearby on Tetuán, 7. Those glorious satin multicoloured high heels decorated with silk flowers will set you back a cool €198 but they look (and feel) such a joy to wear. Even then, there’s more choice: if you’re still searching for the perfect pair, head to Calle Sierpes for the local branch of the bright and sassy chain Pilar Burgos.
Spanish clothes retail phenomena Zara and Mango are well represented here. Zara has four stores in these streets, decking out men, women, teenagers and children in their fast-updated ranges at low prices. Mango, with its Penélope and Monica Cruz collection, has a new flagship store at the bottom of Calle Velazquez.
Opposite, on Calle O’Donnell, cult Spanish label Hoss Intropia has opened a new two-storey store. This ‘real’ fashion label is doing great things at the moment and is a breath of fresh air with a feminine and indulgent feel.
Another new chain on the block is Bimba y Lola. The two designers behind this label are the nieces of Spanish fashion icon Adolfo Dominguez, and the beautiful, almost Dickensian boutique has a very special feel to it. Maybe the aroma from the burning Diptyque candles helps.
If you do want to get local, then there are still chances to bedeck yourself in flamenco finery. Sabina, at Calle Tetuán 7, has traditional peinas or hair combs from €30, in varying degrees of glitz. And at Diza, almost next door, you can pick up an elegant hand-painted fan from €10.
The pot of gold at the end of Seville’s shopping rainbow lies in Plaza Duque de la Victoria, home to two of the district’s four branches of El Corte Inglés. The Spanish revere this department store chain with good reason: it sells everything, it’s not expensive and the quality is excellent. The main store lies on the west side of the square, offering everything from food to children’s clothes. Opposite sits the entertainment section, with a vast selection of CDs and DVDs. Homeware is in another building a block south and the younger, trendier Sfera (also owned by El Corte Inglés) stocks cosmetic ranges from Stila and Origins alongside cool accessories and up-to-the-minute clothes.
There are plenty of bars and cafes along the way for pit-stops and – suitably refreshed, with purchases in hand – you might even want to take in a little sightseeing.
Where to stay
Bang on the money is the new Eme Fusion Hotel, gloriously chic and right opposite the cathedral.
To star-spot, go for the luxurious Hotel Alfonso XIII, typically Andalusian, with lovely fountain-filled patios.
Back in the centre, on the edge of the Santa Cruz district, is Casa No 7 a converted 18th-century palace, with tranquil rooms set around a patio.
Casa Romana Boutique Hotel, close to the shopping district, is a well-restored urban mansion and boasts a roof solarium with hot and cold Jacuzzi (depending on the weather, of course).
Where to eat and drink
Enrique Becerra (c/Gamazo, 2) sets new standards of tapas delights. Try the minted lamb meatballs, ratatouille and veal dishes. Proof that there can be more to these dishes than soggy tortilla yet in the typical, tiled, Sevillana-style setting. Restaurant upstairs too.
For more elaborate meals, head to Pando (c/Cuna, 5). It’s a beautiful townhouse with an elegant feel, offering beautifully presented artichoke flowers with prawns and creamed Iberian ham or sliced duck on spiced bread with rose-flavoured jam. Wise to book ahead.
La Albahaca serves traditional Andalusian cuisine in a lovely setting deep in the Santa Cruz district.
Also in the Santa Cruz area is Bodega Belmonte, a relaxed but trendy tapas bar dedicated to the bullfighter, Juan Belmonte. Expect lots of bullfighting memorabilia amongst the tasty nosh.