My mother has wanted to return to Spain since her stopover in Madrid on the way to Greece 15 years ago. She thought of Barcelona this time. In the end, we we found we couldn’t miss Madrid, and had to add Seville as well. Planning a Mother-Daughter Holiday is about having a great time together. We like architecture. But we also like drinking wine in leafy piazzas and sampling Jamon. In fact, when I asked her what she wanted to experience, it was that: relaxing and taking in the beauty of the country. Quality Mother-Daughter travel luxury translates to no chaos, no long lines, no check list. Famously crowded and chaotic Barcelona was joined by Seville – we were between Seville and Granada. We are going for a serene, stylish holiday.

The Many Pluses of Relaxed Travel

Luxury is as much about eliminating inconvenience as it is pleasure. And with this definition, luxury is not necessarily about money, but about planning. I want to make sure my mother has as little of the abrasion of travel as possible- no long layovers, no alarm clocks, no schlepping around looking for taxis. And trains over planes whenever possible.

All About Serendipity

In the meantime, she saw the Grand Budapest Hotel and loved it. But she never thought she would want to go to Budapest. First of all, there is no Budapest in the film. It’s just a name, an abstraction. But real Budapest is in fact a very Wes Andersen, fairy-tale place to visit- elaborate tortes included. It answered our every wish – neo-Baroque baths, fancy cake, and Gypsy combos.

All About Convenience

Now that our destinations were set – Budapest, Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville, we set out to find transportation. Never having to set an alarm is a priority for us – a non-negotiable luxury. A cheap flight that leaves at an exhausting hour is no economy. Our Wizz air connection from Thessaloniki left at a pleasant hour. The connection from Budapest to Madrid leaves late afternoon, gets in early evening. This way, we had no recovery time from our flights. We arrive fresh, ready to make the most of the afternoon and evening. We’re paying for hotel rooms to relax and enjoy ourselves, not recover from our trip.

All About the Mood

To go from Madrid to Seville, we’ll take the train. Spanish trains are notoriously nice, and notoriously expensive. We leave from Madrid’s Atocha station, and arrive at Santa Justa in Seville less than three hours later, savoring the Andalusian landscape in between. No airport transfers offset the price of the train vs. the “budget” airfare. Door to door, the train is the faster option. Moreover, we have a huge choice of departure times. Best of all, going from city center to city center we are constantly in Spain. No sterile, international airport vibe breaks the mood. Our trip is all about the mood.

All About Style

Booking the hotels has been the most fun. There are a lot of hotels in Budapest, but for me, there is only the Gellert. The reviews have it at less than an 8. This is excellent – it weeds out the riff-raff who prize brand new carpeting over high ceilings and wide corridors. Our trip is also all about style. This was a prerequisite for our hotel choices in Madrid, and Seville also. Location is important, but so is local architecture, local texture. Hotels should have the distinctive character of their cities. We found a great selection for Seville here, for Barcelona here, and for Madrid here

All About Going Off-Script

In between highlights like a Bartok concert, the Prado and the Sagrada Familia, we scheduled plenty of time for – doing nothing in particular. This meant plenty of time for a second vermouth at Casa Alberto, a taste of contemporary Barcelona at one of the city’s serious coffee places, or catching a Rafael Nadal match on tv at a tapas bar.

All About Classic Experiences

We hear a lot about going “off the beaten track” and “hidden gems.” We’re not going for obscure. There is a reason classic experiences are classic- they are expressive of a place. A photo of the Gellert Baths is a classic Budapest image, and it doesn’t do them justice. We want to have Esterhazy torte at Cafe Central in Budapest and churros and hot chocolate in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. We want to enjoy the classic experiences that make a great itinerary of Spain complete, like seeing flamenco in Seville, and marveling at the works of Gaudí in Barcelona – classic. Just because these things are popular does not make them inauthentic. We want to experience things that just aren’t the same anywhere else.