The Cathedral of Seville is, needless to say, the flagship of the Andalusian capital. Nearby and on the banks of the Guadalquivir river there rises another of the most famous and visited places of the city: La Torre del Oro.
As you stroll from the cathedral to the river, you find, to the right and wedged among a series of typical Andalusian houses with iron bar balconies and full of flowers, something that could be another one of those houses. But no. It is a hostel, and not just one among the twenty that you could find in Seville, but one of the best in Spain.
What is La Banda?
La Banda is a small hostel, but with great charm. Its amazing décor captures the attention of anyone who enters the reception. Its interior has little to do with the facade or the landscape in which it is located; it breaks all this harmony to create a different and fun place full of originality.
Upon entering, you are received by walls where huge posters of bands share space with drawings and paintings that guests with a passion for art sometimes make for the hostel. In this context, it is common to find a group of friends (who most likely have just met there) sitting on sofas and armchairs in the reception, drinking beer and playing cards, Jenga, chess, or any of the games that you can find under the table.
The story behind La Banda is the dream of four English friends: Tom, Sam, Olly and Richie.
The beginning, as always, was not easy. In the first three months, the same person who did the day shifts at the reception also had to do the night ones. “The longest shift went on for thirty-eight hours.”
A year has passed since that time. “Now we have six employees,” says Tom.
The philosophy they wanted to impart to the hostel was clear from the beginning, starting with the name. When we ask Tom about it, he replies: “When we went to Mexico, there they all say “la banda” when referring to a group. We wanted to create that atmosphere of unity so that people who traveled alone would feel embraced, so was a perfect name. ”
If there is something La Banda is characterized by it is its great atmosphere. As they say in the online description of the hostel, “from the moment you enter, you become one of our band.” Each guest is treated in a very familiar way, and made to feel that they are not stopping at a place just out of necessity, to eat and sleep, but that during their stay in Seville the hostel can be a perfect opportunity to meet new people from around the world, socialize and have fun.
The spirit you find there is young and adventurous, that of the people who leave their countries with a backpack and eager to see the world. Most guests are American, Australian and Asian. Many of them travel alone, but end up leaving through the door of the hostel with some friends every night.
Everything is wrapped in an atmosphere of art, music and culture that makes social relations flow alone. The owners of the hostel themselves usually sit with their guests to chat and drink, as if instead of customers they were guests being received at home. They are interested in their lives and stories, and may even go out with them some nights in Seville.
With forty-two beds, it is one of the smaller hostels in the city. However, that is far from being a drawback when you are clear about what you intend to achieve. And they are. As Tom tells us, “most of the hostels here in Seville have around sixty beds, but to create a good atmosphere and vibes it is better when there are fewer people.”
The décor of La Banda reflects this philosophy of “good vibes” too. The hostel has been built slowly, with the effort and enthusiasm of these four friends, and according to Tom, they are still changing all the areas in which they believe they can improve. It is curious to see how old doors there become tables, how the wires hang from the ceiling so attractively and how vinyls are back in fashion again. The owners have already become professionals at DIY (“do it yourself”), because almost everything in the hostel that may call your attention is made by them, giving a new use to objects that may seem useless.
A rooftop terrace
The star of La Band Rooftop Hostel is with no doubt the rooftop. And it is mainly due to two aspects. On the one hand, its incredible views of the cathedral. During the day, the monument is beautiful, clean cut on Seville clear blue sky, but at night, it is illuminated with its characteristic color of toast, and wrapped in an almost magical aura which attracts the attention. And it is precisely this nocturnal charm which brings us to the second aspect that highlights the rooftop: the socializing space par excellence in the hostel. But here not only socializing is done through games or chats, but also through the palate.
“We really like cooking”, says Tom, “and I think if I traveled alone, I also would not mind eating by myself at lunch, but at night, dining is different.” And under this premise the four friends gather every night in the kitchen to prepare dinner which every guest of the hostel can enjoy for a very affordable price.
Around the large rooftop table people of different nationalities sit. Whether previously acquainted or not, they are placed next to each other and have dinner in a nice atmosphere with Sam, Tom, Olly and Richie. They talk to each other and test new flavors with which these four guys experiment.
The menu is usually composed of food from exotic countries, where spicy flavors are the most common. The originality in creating the dinner is reflected in the successful outcome and the name under which each dish is presented.
For example, one night you can dine “Wonderful Moroccan chicken with grilled zucchini” and the next “Indian flavours! Come with us on a journey from Kerala to Calcutta … Poppadums, sitar sounds and wild elephants”. In other words, you can always guess what you eat, but you never get to know it exactly. The boys’ secret is mixing flavors from different cultures, as their already famous “Thaiella” which is just the typical Spanish paella, but this time with thai chicken.
Life on the rooftop passes between these family dinners at night and the atmosphere created by music and a drinks bar throughout the day. It is the busiest place where all customers meet each other and make friends, just what the hostel owners wanted with this business idea.
Of course, the good atmosphere that La Banda exudes can be seen in the comments that customers leave on “Hostelworld”, a website that handles bookings for hostels all around the world, and allows the creation of a large database of reviews and comments.
The overall impression of La Banda can be summarized in the following comment by an Argentine man: “If you’re going to Seville, you should definitely stay here.”
In just one year, with its “good atmosphere” philosophy and its original way of devising a hostel, La Banda has achieved the top on the best Seville hostels ranking. The same webpage has also recognized it as one of the best hostels in Spain, being in this case level with the current number one, both with 97% score.
And what do the customers of La Banda value the most? Well, first of all, the staff, with a 99% score, something that very few hostels are able to achieve. That is due to the cheerful, open and welcoming character of the four owners of the hostel, who also make sure that any person who is going to be hired shares the same spirit full of kindness and sympathy. Other points made by all who have visited the site are the atmosphere and location. And this hostel is indeed in a perfect location for tourism.
This year 2014, TripAdvisor granted them the Certificate of Excellence, which they have gained thanks to the reviews and ratings of travelers on this website.
When we talk to the owners, they are the first to be surprised. They never imagined what they would be achieving in such a short time. They fulfilled their dream a year ago, but it is a dream that today has meant that thousands of travelers return home with the pleasant feeling of having been greeted and welcomed in Seville by a group of friends, a band that with good food, music and conversation has made their stay in the city unforgettable.
“We invested everything we have, we will see where we get”, laughs Tom.