Cosmopolitan Madrid has always beckoned with world-class art, ornate palaces, and sweeping plazas. But so often Spain’s capital has been looked over, say, for the animated nightlife, beaches, and fantastical Gaudí architecture of Barcelona. Finally, the city is receiving the attention it deserves, fueled in part by an infusion of fresh, sophisticated hotels.
STR reports that, as of January 2023, ADR went up to $135.77 from $107.82 in 2019, and RevPAR increased during the same period from $69.86 to $81.14. There are also 26 properties across Madrid that are either in the planning stages or under construction that will ultimately yield 2,127 new guestrooms. One of these is the Nobu Hotel Madrid, the fifth Spanish outpost from Nobu Hospitality slated for 2024. Los Angeles-based Studio PCH, the firm behind the brand’s Malibu restaurant and forthcoming San Sebastián hotel, will design the three-level Nobu restaurant anchoring the former office building.
Nobu is just one of the lifestyle and luxury hotels planned that are elevating the Spanish city. Back in 2018 Rockwell Group overhauled Gran Hotel Inglés, the oldest hotel in Madrid, dating back to 1886, and a spate of elegantly memorable properties followed. The 2021 transformation of the Belle Époque Ritz into the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid, led by local architecture firm Rafael de La-Hoz and Paris design agency Gilles & Boissier, was one of the most significant of these additions. Here, we explore a few of the other standouts.
Four Seasons Hotel Madrid
The 204-room Four Seasons Hotel Madrid is set in the late 19th-century Spanish headquarters of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States that later became home to the Banco Español de Crédito. Opened in September 2020, in the thick of the pandemic, its design is the handiwork of local firms Estudio Lamela and BG Arquitectura as well as San Francisco-based BAMO. Along with Dani García’s rooftop dining destination Dani, courtesy of New York- and London-based Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, there is the AvroKO-designed Isa Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, which debuted in December 2021 with such glamorous touches as a more than six-foot-wide glass chandelier and kintsugi tiles.
“It was important to the entire team, and the city, that we respect the Spanish heritage. You feel a strong legacy as you arrive, and your outward experience and views, from guestrooms, the rooftop terraces, or interior courtyards amplifies that connection to the city and history,” explains BAMO lead designer Lexie Eglin.
The hotel teems with Old World details like the lobby’s gilt-crowned green marble columns, but balanced with a modern sensibility, conjured for instance, by pieces from local artists that grace the gallery-like corridors. Even the restrained palette, “pulled from the muted tones of the dry landscape, the natural pigments of Goya paintings, and the saturated olive greens, saffron, and golds observed in Spanish high fashion,” adds Eglin, thoughtfully nod to Madrid.
In the Chamberí district, a similar sense of grandeur awaits at Santo Mauro, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. The 49-room hotel opened in late 2021 on leafy grounds, befitting its past as the 18th-century abode of the Duke of Santo Mauro. “It is a building of the Madrid nobility and therefore it was decorated as if it were a house, not a hotel,” explains local designer Lorenzo Castillo. “It had already been converted from a palace to an embassy and then a hotel, but it was a hotel with gray, neutral décor. We wanted to turn it into a signature hotel, with a noticeable design that would become one of the emblems of luxury in Madrid.”
Castillo injected each space with its own personality. Chinoiserie patterns adorn the lounge, green velvet stands out in the original library-turned-restaurant, and the gleaming, cream-toned bar is “a tribute to Art Deco spaces of New York in the ’20s and ’30s,” points out Castillo. Antiques and textiles are also used liberally, most prominently in the suite entirely swathed in an oxblood-, Iazuli blue-, and ochre-tinged floral Indian print.
Rosewood Villa Magna
A 19th-century palace once stood on the site of the Rosewood Villa Magna in the Salamanca district. For the 154-room hotel that opened in the fall of 2021, the brand’s inaugural foray into Spain, BAR Studio incorporated history into its layered design narrative. Consider the rooftop suites, Salamanca House and Anglada House, which epitomize modern opulence with their expansive terraces and notable art collections.
Throughout the property, wood and leather mingle with “creative gestures like the oversized herringbone motif, iron detailing, and vibrant color accents,” says Maria Garcia-Arribas, director of the Melbourne firm’s Madrid office. “The whole ground-floor area redesign has been rewarding. We’ve opened spaces to the natural light and used glass to create a sense of visually connected, yet separate social venues.” One of her favorite areas is the Flor y Nata pâtisserie, because of how important traditional pastry shops are to Spanish culture. “It was special to recreate a modern version of these spaces associated with our childhood memories and that are quintessentially Madrid,” she adds.
Radisson RED Madrid
An upbeat vibe is front and center at the 260-room Radisson RED. Radisson Hotel Group’s design-forward brand settled into a one-time sawmill from the 1800s close to Atocha railway last fall and greets guests with a red bear and tree sculpture reminiscent of the monument found in Puerta del Sol square. Art channeling the Renaissance and Baroque periods and elevator panels upholstered in local fabrics further ground guests in their location.
Madrid’s warmth and vitality is perfectly suited to such lifestyle-forward concepts. Hyatt’s rooftop pool-capped Thompson Madrid, for example, also began welcoming guests last year. Local firm López y Tena Arquitectos decked out the 175-room hotel with marble, wood, leather, and Mediterranean furniture, and the 1950s-inflected cocktail bar, Hijos de Tomás, has fast become a local hotspot.
One of the most jubilant atmospheres to savor a drink in is the Lobby Bar at the 200-room Madrid EDITION, which melds a sinuous ceiling and scalloped copper bar with a U-shaped sofa backdropped by softly illuminated shelving and a pool table fashioned out of Bianco Neve marble.
The property joined the city’s hotel scene in 2022 starring a sleek design from London’s John Pawson and Paris-based François Champsaur and two pulsating restaurants. Mexican chef Enrique Olvera’s Jerónimo, with its bright yellow leather popping against sumptuously carved dark oak panels, can be accessed via a decorative 18th-century Baroque portal. Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz’s Oroya, awash in colored glass panels, is situated on the roof, where there is also a popular pool.
“Geographical location and its history are important in our design process. For the Madrid EDITION, we combined the energy and optimism of La Movida, the countercultural movement that sprang up in Madrid in the mid 1970s, with the sensory richness of a Velázquez painting,” explains Pawson.
This tone is set at the copper canopied main entrance, leading to a space enveloped in dark oak and dominated by the EDITION signature sculptural staircase. It was one of the project’s biggest challenges, Pawson admits, yet it “is also one of its greatest triumphs. I love the tactile quality of its polished surfaces and the contrast with the deep tones of the Baroque timber that encases it. The graphic dialogue between light and dark makes entry from Plaza de Celenque a special experience—one that resonates through the wider design.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s February/March 2023 issue.