A five-star hotel which doesn’t feel stuffy is at the top of every modern traveller’s wishlist, and Torre de Madrid delivers, with a stylish, yet refreshingly informal, vibe.
Where is it
What was once the city’s tallest building, the 36-storey Torre de Madrid, sits at the end of Madrid’s answer to Broadway, the Gran Via. It's a wide boulevard, and one of the city’s main streets, lined with theatres, cinemas and high street stores. The hotel now occupies the first nine floors, and overlooks the elegant Plaza de España. The capital city may lack the breezy charm of its beachy sibling, Barcelona, but it has plenty of culture, nightlife and shopping opportunities of its own.
In a nutshell, the hotel induces instant interiors-envy. It’s the first hotel project by young Madrid-born designer, Jaime Hayon, whose eclectic use of colour, lighting and textures blend to create a stylish, modern, and comfortable city-centre retreat. The chalky, matte-painted walls are in an appealing palette of powder pink, sage green or slate grey, while the furniture – much of it designed by Hayon himself - mixes jewel-like shades of sapphire, emerald and ruby.
The lobby features a showpiece sculpture of a bear doffing a top hat (the hotel’s logo), a nod to the animal which features on Madrid’s crest, as well as an example of Hayon’s playfulness. Specially commissioned artworks hang throughout the hotel, in the form of glossy, painterly photographs of men and women in different forms of traditional Spanish dress, while intricate fretwork techniques have been used on the ground floor windows to make rounded, childlike designs of faces.
The lobby functions as a lounge area, as does the second floor reception, where you can perch on those pretty, velvet- and tweed-covered sofas and bucket chairs while leafing through architectural magazines and art books. There’s a ground floor bar, Garra, which uses one of the building’s structural pillars as a sexily-lit shelving unit for its bottles, hung with quirky porcelain gold and white striped lamps. Upstairs, the signature restaurant, Somos, is designed as a modern palm court, with bright red tables and chairs contrasting with the mirrored wall panels and leaf-like room dividers.
Above the skylit swimming pool on the eighth floor is an outdoor solarium, for lounging in the sunshine after an energetic gym workout, plus a small spa. Guests staying in suites have access to their own executive lounge, where drinks and nibbles are available throughout the day,
Food and drink
A buffet breakfast is served daily in a separate dining room, featuring all the Spanish delicacies you can shake a chorizo sausage at, from platters of Manchego cheese to sliced jamon Iberico to churros with chocolate sauce, and the usual continental offerings of fruit, yoghurt, cereals and pastries. Somos, open for lunch and dinner, produces Spanish dishes with a twist; expect the likes of mushroom croquetas, grilled hake with romanesco sauce, or pork cheeks teriyaki. A pre-dinner cocktail at Garra, perched right at the sleek, marble bar, will get your appetite going.
The hotel is on the fringes of two of Madrid’s up and coming neighbourhoods, Conde Duque and Malasana. You can explore their narrow, medieval streets in an afternoon, home to independent boutiques, vintage stores and vermouth bars. This year is the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the town of Guernica, during Spain’s Civil War; see Picasso’s haunting, larger than life depiction of it in the Reina Sofia museum.
On Sundays, it’s well worth a wander around the El Rastro open air antique and flea market, which covers dozens of streets around the central barrio de Embajadores district, selling everything from comic books to leather jackets. Tick off the tourist hotspots of the city’s magnificently baroque Royal Palace, and the vast, classically-designed Plaza Mayor.
The majority of the 258 rooms all feature similar design touches, including an etched mirrored wall behind the bed, a couple of Hayon’s colourful chairs (mine were in burnt orange and marshmallow pink), and a quirky side table in the shape of a monkey holding the top as a tray.
The indulgent bathroom features a fabulous walk-in shower with a striking geometric, zig-zag-patterned monochrome marble wall. Most have views over the Gran Via, but if you want to step it up, book into one of the 21 suites; the Royal, Princes and President suites have their own wraparound terrace, overlooking most of the city.
Design and interiors aficionados, couples looking for a slick minibreak, or friends who want to explore a new city.
When to go
May and early June offer warm weather, as do September and October. You might want to avoid the throngs of tourists in high season.
Rooms from 300€ in low season and 400€ in high season, based on two people sharing a Deluxe Room with views over the Gran Via. Plaza de Espana 18, 28008, Madrid, Spain; barcelo.com