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Hotel Alfonso's staff is top notch providing effortlessly attentive service and local guidance to explore the cache of cultural treasures just steps from the hotel's grand lobby and courtyard. For in-house cuisine, look no farther than the prestigious Restaurante San Fernando, which often hosts Sevillian-themed entertainment including iconic Flamenco guitar and dance. And the garden pool provides an urban oasis in which to escape the midday heat often pushing 100 degrees in mid-summer. The Hotel Alfonso evokes the timeless charm of a bygone era, but effectively meshes the modern conveniences and service expected of a world class hotel. It's easy to understand why the Hotel Alfonso is regarded and consistently ranked as the top luxury hotel in this vibrant regional capital.

Taking the convenient AVE express train whisks you from Seville to Madrid in a tidy 2.5 hours, depositing you in the world-class capital of Spain teeming with energy and an amazing lust for life. One could be quite content to wander the streets of this brilliant city for days -- occasionally popping into various plazas and restaurants to sample the bite-sized culinary delights of course known as tapas.

For accommodations, we hung our hat another historical Starwood gem. Built at the direction of King Alfonso XIII in 1912, The Westin Palace was recently restored to its original splendor. Set adjacent to the world renowned Museo Prado, Museo Reina Sofia, and multiple historic monuments, it was ranked as the #1 hotel in Spain in Condé Nast Traveler's 2008 Gold List. The distinguished building, highlighted by an central stained glass dome, has been an epicenter of Spanish culture for decades -- and the staff does their best to make each guest feel akin to local aristocracy during their stay.

The guestrooms are handsomely decorated with antique furnishings and original mahogany and plaster details, most of which have been recently redecorated and stocked with modern conveniences. It's an easy stroll across the street to the Prado where one can consume his or herself in one of Europe's finest artistic institutions. A leisurely paseo, or stroll, in the other direction quickly leads through the vibrant Plaza Santa Ana and onward to the city's logistical and commercial heart, the Puerto del Sol. The hotel's staff from top to bottom provides a level of service expected of a five star resort, and adds a touch of personalization that makes a stop in Madrid even that much more magical.

Two weeks in Spain encourages a traveler to down-shift and embrace an environment defined by a rich zest for life. It embodies the culture and history indigenous to all of Europe, but adds a sun-soaked Mediterranean element providing a beachy respite to the abundant ancient cathedrals and world-class museums. Spain proves to be a decidedly wonderful choice for newlyweds who seek grand history intertwined with a presently vibrant "love of life."

For JustLuxe Andrew Fischer
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