Our Andalusian escape act at the Hurricane Hotel: DOM JOLY averts a family holiday disaster in Seville by heading south to the exotic town of Tarifa…

  • Comedian Dom Joly had booked family in to the Silken Al-Andalus Palace
  • But was surprised to arrive and find the pool area was closed to the public
  • So he managed to book into the Hurricane Hotel, 90 minutes away in Tarifa



Never go back, it stops you going forward. I abandoned this travel maxim of mine when I booked flights to Seville for a family break. Normally we Jolys are on our family road trip at Easter, but this year I was filming and didn t have the luxury of taking a month off. Last year we d driven round the entire Iberian Peninsula and Seville had been unanimously voted our favourite stop. Since we d spent only three days there, we thought the Andalusian capital might bear a repeat visit for a post-Easter getaway.

Splash hit: Dom and Stacey with their children, Jackson and Parker finally got their Discount Holidays © holiday to remember

The pool area at the Hurricane Hotel in Tarifa was just what the Jolys wanted to enjoy on their trip

Our previous trip had coincided with the religious festival Semana Santa, a truly magical time when the whole city appears to dress up as medieval wizards. Hotels are totally chock-a-block during this period, so we d cleverly booked into the Silken Al-Andalus Palace a hulking convention hotel a couple of miles outside the centre of town. While the Al-Andalus Palace pales into architectural insignificance when put up against the majestic edifices of Seville proper, it did have the important advantage of having a large pool and garden.

The idea was that the kids could plunge in and out of the city centre on cultural forays with my wife Stacey and me before returning to the hotel to plunge into the pool. The plan worked brilliantly and the hotel was surprisingly affordable. So, this year we decided to do it again. Big mistake. As the taxi whisked us from Seville airport to the hotel, I wound down my window and poked my snout out. I was hit by the soothing scent of orange blossom and I instantly remembered why I loved this city. Jo Malone couldn t have blended a more pleasant fragrance to welcome us better, and I nodded contentedly as my cabbie nattered on in machine-gun Spanish.

Once we arrived at the hotel, it was already late afternoon, so the plan was to check in and then head straight to the pool. Easier said than done

Last year the hotel had been fairly hassle-free, despite it being Semana Santa. This time, we were supposed to be in a slightly lighter period between Semana Santa and The Feria Seville s world-famous April Fair and we expected things to be fairly relaxed. It was utter chaos. Golden Hue: This shows the beautiful sunset on a terrace bar at the Hurricane Hotel

There was a gigantic convention of people who all flew a particular type of cargo plane staying in the Palace .

Every one of these aero-nerds suddenly wanted to speak to someone at reception at the very same time as I wanted to check in. It took an hour to get our rooms sorted, and by then the kids were exploding in a pent-up pool frenzy. We got changed and raced towards the pool garden, only to be met with a typed notice informing us that the pool was open only from May to September. This was devastating news to the kids who, much like our dreams of a perfect city break, visibly crumpled in front of us. What was particularly annoying was that we had been at the same hotel, a week earlier in April, last year and the pool had been very much open.

I rejoined the interminable queue at reception, and when I finally spoke to someone and pointed out this fact, I got a very Spanish shrug. I could foresee a stressful five days on the horizon. Pretty much everywhere in Seville was now booked up, and not many hotels there have a decent pool anyway. Then it hit me. I remembered ages ago, my friend Jude, a woman of exceptional taste, telling me about this great place in Tarifa about 90 minutes drive away.

What was it called? It eventually came to me the Hurricane Hotel. I looked it up online. It appeared too good to be true. It was stunning Moroccan-style architecture with two pools, a beach and a spa and it was only a two-star surely some mistake? I rang them and they were disarmingly friendly AND they happened to have one family suite available. Lovely jubbly: The junior Jolys enjoy a hot-tub session as their Discount Holidays © holiday was rescued at the last minute

Dom Joly was lucky enough to book the last family suite available at the Hurricane Hotel

I found my family sitting forlornly in the bar.

I told them the good news, but they were not convinced. To cheer them up, we went into town for supper. Half an hour later we d all remembered why we so loved Seville the smells, the relaxed ambience, the architecture, the light and the food. We meandered our way through cobbled old streets until we arrived at Eslava, a scrumptious local favourite that doles out dry sherry and fine tapas by the bucketload. Pretty soon both Mrs J and I were happy to stay in Seville. In fact, we would both have been happy to stay in Eslava for the next five days. The kids, however, were not quite in the same head-space.

So the next morning we rented a little car, checked out of our disappointing big palace and headed south to the coast and new beginnings. After an hour we were confronted with epic views over the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. North Africa was so close you could almost touch it. Tarifa is a very windy town it has an impressive beach that has long been a mecca for wind-surfers, wind-kiters, wind-carters anything that requires wind. My wife joked that I d very much be at home here.

We drove along the side of the beach ogling the toned magicians in wetsuits flying up and over powerful waves. Then we drove past pretty pine forests before finally turning into the Hurricane Hotel. It was love at first sight. As we walked from the car park to reception, we were deafened by birdsong from the dense subtropical garden that surrounds the place. The receptionist was ridiculously helpful.

Within three minutes we were installed in our family room a bedroom, bathroom, loo and a large sitting room with spare double bed. Oh, and a sumptuous log fire for when the wind got too much. It was simply and stylishly decorated presumably from multifarious shopping trips to nearby Tangier (only 35 minutes by ferry from Tarifa). Looking out of our windows, we could see a pool it was open and several kids were mucking about in it while their parents lounged on wooden daybeds. It was a perfect amalgamation of Spain and Morocco.

The kids finally dived into a pool. Stacey and I were free to wander round exploring. It was fabulous it had that relaxed boho vibe that you get in places such as Essaouira in Morocco. We discovered the seaside restaurant, then the yoga centre, the windsurfing school and, finally, the hot tub with a view to Africa How on earth was this place a two-star? We didn t leave this earthly paradise for three days apart from a quick trip into Tarifa. The kids had a blast, and Stacey and I relaxed as we rarely manage. Admittedly, we were lucky as the wind was pretty calm.

Sometimes, I was warned, it can be a bit of a problem here, especially if you are just looking to chill in the sun. Our gamble, however, had paid off. We got sun, sea and sand plus top food, happy kids and that little smug feeling that we d somehow beaten the travel odds. Who knows? We might even go back.


British Airways (ba.com1) offers flights to Seville from Gatwick, with return fares starting at 83pp. Discount Holidays © Holiday Autos (Discount Holidays © holiday autos.com2) offers five days car hire in Seville from 56. Rooms at the Hurricane Hotel Tarifa cost from ‘ 87 ( 73) per night, including breakfast.

Visit hotelhurricane.com3.


  1. ^ ba.com (ba.com)
  2. ^ Discount Holidays © holiday autos.com (holiday%20autos.com)
  3. ^ hotelhurricane.com (hotelhurricane.com)

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