By Abigail King
Blend together the Roman Conquest, centuries of war between Moors and Christians, and the personal wealth of a Viceroy to the Indies, and what do you find? A 21st century spa, of course.
The Aire de Seville describes itself as an Arabic Bathhouse, built on the site of an ancient Hammam and Roman ruins to boot. The inner courtyard resonates with Santa Cruz style: a central fountain sloshes over midnight-blue tiles, while visitors sip tea between potted plants and hanging lanterns.
This grand townhouse, built by a 16th century viceroy, does a great job of seducing you on the way in, an achievement only temporarily punctured by the strict changing room staff. “That locker. No towel. Wear shoes. Stand here.”
Once vetted by the attendants, it’s time to descend to the underground bathing area.
The air here smells of incense and history, the ceilings carved into dark wood squares with latticed screens dividing the areas. You can sip apple tea poured form curved metallic spouts and rest on the marble slabs while waiting for a massage.
The baths themselves follow some of the rituals of both the Hammam and ancient Rome: the tepidarium at 36 degrees, the calidarium at a soakingly-lovely 40 degrees, and the frigidarium at a nonsensical 16 degrees. Try them all – and then resolve never to let the spirit of adventure trick you into abandoning common sense again.
Within your standard admission, you can also try the Thousand Shower steam room, hydro-massage bath, and saltwater pool in the brick-lined basement.
Soaked, clean and refreshed, you are ready to face the attendants again, who escort you out of the baths PDQ (pretty damn quick). However, you can continue your rest and relaxation in the upstairs tea rooms, propped up by rainbow striped cushions and honeyed baklava cake.
Not a bad diversion from the streets of Seville.
Prices start at 20 Euros per person for 90 minutes without additional treatments. Book online at http://www.airedesevilla.com/. The spa admits both men and women, but not children. Towels, slippers, and lockers are provided – as are bathing suits if you forget your own.
Abigail King is a freelance writer. Read more of her work at: http://abigailking.co.uk/