A blog and review on all things Sherry. It is about tasting, enjoyment and learning more about the World’s Finest Wine. "Sherry is a thoroughbred" as Javier Hidalgo rightly puts it. Included are the amazing local Brandies and the remarkably good table wines also produced in the province of Cádiz.
as recently as 1961 Jerez had only four hotels, and the grandest was the much
lamented Los Cisnes (the swans) in the central Calle Larga. This Jerez
institution stocked Sherry from all the bodegas and served afternoon tea to the
many British bodegueros’ wives and families.
The facade, 1950s
It was originally
founded in the early 1890s by Blas Gil López on a different site, further down
the Calle Larga, which was then known as Calle Duque de Almodóvar, at the
corner with the Plaza del Banco. It consisted then of a luxury hotel, café and
restaurant. It was fitted out with all modern conveniences and even had a car
at the railway station to collect guests, and luxury carriages to take them
sightseeing. Service was impeccable but came at a price.
The old Los
Cisnes would be converted at around the turn of the century by a later owner into
the sumptuous Gran Café Fornos, with a high class restaurant, which from the
1940s, offered musical performances from a local quartet. It survived until the
The dining room
Gil López had died and his widow established a new, bigger and more luxurious hotel
with the same name further up the street. There were 5 storeys with 25 rooms on
each and behind the entrance patio there were magnificent gardens. Opposite the
large bar-café, the walls of the gallery were lined with works by contemporary
artists, most of which were sold to American collectors. There was also the
annual competition for the best Fiesta de la Vendimia poster.
Part of the bar
of the hotel was probably between the refurbishment of 1938 and the 1960s when
anyone who was anyone stayed there, from bullfighters to flamenco and movie
stars. Names like Lola Flores, Manolo Caracol, Conchita Piquer, Tyrone Power
and many more could be found on the register. Lola and Caracol were infamous
for their constant bickering and fighting, much to the bemusement of other
guests. The hotel also had royal approval.
A business card
death of viuda de Blas Gil López the hotel was bought by a firm called Hotelera
Andaluza but sadly, at the end of the 1970s it was sold to a property developer
and converted into the ugly shopping centre we see today. Many of its external
features can still be seen, however. Other fine hotels have opened since the
loss of the old Los Cisnes and the era that it represented, but excellent
though they are, none could be described as institutions.