Why Madrid is the hottest place to travel right now

·3-min read
 (Mandarin Oriental Ritz)
(Mandarin Oriental Ritz)

You’re raring to take your Covid passport for a spin and a chic autumn city break is the way to do it. Madrid is having something of a reinvention with an invasion of super luxury hotel openings making it one of the most exciting cities in Europe right now.

The Mandarin Oriental Ritz (mandarinoriental.com) flung open its gleaming doors this summer after an exquisite £85m renovation by Spanish architect Rafael de la-Hoz and French designers Gilles & Boissier. You saved some lockdown pocket money, right? The average nightly room rate of £750 is steep but worth it. It is glittering, spectacular and a VIP sighting is pretty much guaranteed (we spied Mark Wahlberg during a recent stay). It’s the sort of place that embroiders guests’ initials into their pillowcases and pre-stocks your favourite wine in the minibar.

If a high-priced room is out of the question, instead join the beautiful Madrileños at the hotel’s Pictura bar for clever cocktails, celebrate your double-vax status at three Michelin-starred chef Quique Dacosta’s Deessa restaurant, where the tasting menu starts at £155, or pitch up in the vibey El Jardin del Ritz for tapas and Instagram settings against the busy backdrop of the Paseo del Prado. The hottest table in town has to be in the Champagne Bar. There are only eight seats. Race you to the waiting list? Next door, you’ll find the Museo del Prado (best to book tickets in advance during Covid times), the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums. The world-famous Retiro park is nearby.

Food at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz (Ben Roberts/Panos Pictures)
Food at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz (Ben Roberts/Panos Pictures)

Over on Calle de Sevilla, Spain’s first Four Seasons (rooms from £550; fourseasons.com) has landed and is a hyper-luxurious base from which to explore the city. Two things make the Four Seasons a must-visit: the spa and the restaurant. The spa is the biggest in Madrid with facials courtesy of 111Skin, while knots and kinks are pummelled out using bespoke essential oils concocted by legendary aromatherapist Michelle Roques-O’Neil. There’s a rooftop lap pool and sun terrace with views over the city. Grab a white sangria and let it all go.

Rooftop restaurant Dani is the star of the show, with panoramic views, exceptional tapas and traditional Andalusian dishes whipped up by three Michelin-starred chef Dani Garci (he’s also just opened BiBo at the Mondrian Shoreditch). The 200-room hotel is set within the new Galería Canalejas shopping centre, which is packed with designer boutiques including Loewe, Fendi and Cartier. Across the road you’ll find the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (go for the Goyas).

Bliss at the Four Seasons spa (Four Seasons)
Bliss at the Four Seasons spa (Four Seasons)

In a few weeks, Rosewood will open Villa Magna (rooms from £470; rosewoodhotels.com) on the iconic Paseo de la Castellana. Three Michelin-starred chef Jesús Sánchez will helm the hotel’s signature restaurant, Amós, and the Sense spa is sure to become one of the hottest wellness spots in the city. Book the Salamanca House suite, which has its very own rooftop terrace and sweeping city views. Early next year, a W hotel will open as well as an Edition.

Once you’ve worked your way around the city’s exceptional galleries, head to Salmón Gurú, which consistently appears on The World’s 50 Best Bars list. Owner and master mixologist Diego Cabrera conjures up playful cocktails served up with flamboyant garnishes — think drinks served in jumbo bumble bees and ceramic fish heads. David Muñoz’s mind-bending Diver XO restaurant is a bucket list moment and Brazilian steakhouse Amazónico is a place to see and be seen — if it’s good enough for Cristiano Ronaldo…

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