Hotel History


Hotel Alfonso XIII, named after King Alfonso XIII and conceived to be the grandest hotel in Europe, was constructed to house international dignitaries for the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition.

A competition was held to select an architect and the winner was Sevillian Jose Espiau y Muñoz, the brother-in-law of the chief architect of the Exhibition, Anibal González. Built with brick, plaster, wood, and ceramic, the ornate richness of the building is remarkable. Its recessed ceramic friezes and Mudejar style, a historical version of the regional tradition inspired by Arab architecture, show clear analogy to other prominent structures constructed during this time, notably those in Plaza de America and Plaza de España.

On the same day as Her Royal Highness Infant Isabel’s wedding to Count Juan Zamoyski, the hotel was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII. Stately photographs of this day line the wall near the Front Desk and show the Royal Family clad in masculine gala uniforms or silk dresses with matching hats and tiaras.

The hotel was first remodeled in 1976 and again in 1991 to prepare for another international gathering, the Universal Exhibition of 1992. This renovation was carried out under the aegis of the prestigious architect Rafael Manzano Monis.

After closing for nine months, the hotel reopened upon the completion of a thorough renovation in March 2012, coinciding with the 83rd anniversary of its first opening.Throughout its existence, numerous royal dignitaries have stayed at Hotel Alfonso XIII. Among them are Prince Rainier and Grace of Monaco; Prince Charles and Princess Diana; and the kings of Sweden, Norway, Morocco, Nepal, Denmark, Jordan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, and more. Additionally, it has been a stopping point for international personalities such as Ernest Hemingway, Eva Perón, Orson Welles, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Brad Pitt, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Shakira.

Today, Hotel Alfonso XIII continues to draw international celebrities and intrepid world travelers who appreciate it as a singular location that fuses history, opulence, and regal service, immersing guests in the spoils of another era while catering to contemporary needs.

San Fernando Restaurant Patio
back to top