Bedroom at AC Palacio del Retiro, Madrid

AC Palacio del Retiro

The appeal of the Palacio del Retiro is undeniable. Facing the Retiro Park, just a few blocks from the Prado and the restaurants of Salamanca, the hotel is peaceful yet conveniently located. Its rooms are spacious and its architecture elegant, yet the décor is modern with a stylish flair, falling somewhere between the traditional Ritz and the cutting-edge Hospes. And the staff, if not as numerous and as formal as the ones at some of the grander properties, is helpful and friendly, eager to make guests feel at home from the moment they arrive. The hotel’s few, minor drawbacks are balanced by homey comforts. It does not have a major lobby scene, but the quiet bar is a pleasant place to meet for a pre-dinner drink. And although it lacks a full-service restaurant, the pretty breakfast room serves a wonderful morning meal, and throughout the day guests can order light tapas or drinks while contemplating the park. A small fitness room is stashed in the basement, but a run or a bicycle ride (the hotel has free bikes for guests, although they may rent them out in the future) through the Retiro is infinitely more appealing.

A grand early 20th-century mansion, the Palacio retains the trappings of its aristocratic past. Throughout the property are original stained-glass windows from Paris and carpets manufactured by the Royal Tapestry Factory, as were the ones at the Ritz and the Royal Palace. The furnishings here, however, are sleeker, with platform beds and muted colors. Even the smallest of the hotel’s 50 rooms, a single with interior courtyard views, is spacious and has a modern marble bathroom complete with Molton Brown products. Today’s comforts are present in plasma televisions, Bose sound systems and WiFi, while the ancient iron keys (by law, landmarked properties cannot convert the door locks to modern card systems) link travelers to the past. The Palacio also offers free shoe shining and iPod docking stations in the rooms. Just avoid the few interior rooms that look out onto a brick wall.

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large white building lined with small balconies on a corner

Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Opened in September 2020, the Four Seasons Madrid represents a new era of Spanish luxury and has burst onto the scene as one of the city’s very best.

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Heritage Madrid Hotel Relais & Chateaux

Located in a residential area of Madrid’s upscale Salamanca neighborhood, Heritage Madrid is an elegant mix of old world and modern; a true gem in the city.

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Suite at Hospes Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Hospes Puerta de Alcala Madrid

This high-design hotel attracts a hip crowd that appreciates the modern minimalism and location in Madrid’s most sophisticated shopping district.

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Deluxe Suite at Hotel Orfila, Madrid, Spain

Hotel Orfila

A local fixture of Madrid's upscale Chamberí neighborhood, Hotel Orfila is an old world, intimate hotel with an upscale, but low-key ambience.

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Outside Lounge at Hotel Unico, Madrid, Spain

Hotel Unico

One of Madrid’s chicest boutique hotels, the 44-room Hotel Unico sits in the heart of Salamanca on one of the city’s best shopping streets in a restored 19th century palace not . The beautiful bones of the building are emphasized in the entry courtyard area. Although there is no central lobby, there is a cozy library and small breakfast room.

The rooms are comfortably outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, wood paneling and a neutral color scheme, with marble-tiled, modern bathrooms. The hotel offers a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Ramon Freixa, which serves inventive Spanish cuisine in a bright, airy setting that melds contemporary design with the palace's original architecture (we love the terrace seating overlooking the hotel's landscaped garden). Room service is available around the clock and there is a small gym with fitness classes offered for those who want to maintain their fitness routine while away. The hotel spa has just one treatment room, and beauty services can be arranged.

Loft Suite at Hotel Urban, Madrid, Spain

Hotel Urban

The 101-room Hotel Urban opened in 2004 and remains one of the city’s most popular spots with travelers who want a contemporary, well-designed property in the middle of everything. Situated blocks from the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, the Urban is a striking, five-story metal-and-glass tower that contrasts starkly with the historic buildings in the area. The bedrooms are equally modern, with minimalist platform beds, leather-paneled headboards, dark-wood floors and dim mood lighting, creating a groovy lair-like atmosphere. All bedrooms have wi-fi and LCD televisions, as well as marble baths with rain showers and double sinks. Despite the Urban’s location on a busy street overlooking the Spanish Congress of Deputies building, street noise is largely absent, thanks to double-pained windows and heavy blackout blinds—a serious plus given that most guests patronize the hotel’s hip rooftop bar and recover from the evening’s festivities by sleeping in.

The Urban reflects the passions of its owner, the Catalan archaeologist Jordi Clos, who spent three years designing it. The end product combines his interest in art with his drive to create one of the city’s most vibrant five-star hotels. His personal collection fills the building, starting with Egyptian galleries in the basement. Clos has even placed an artifact in each guest room, displayed with museum-quality lighting and a note explaining its background and origin. The pieces may not be as fine as those in the Prado, but they certainly beat the boring works in most hotels.

On the downside, the Urban’s rooms tend to be small, and their dark walls and floors show even small scuffs and scratches. But given its fantastic location near the heart of the city and the hotel’s own trendy restaurants and bars, guests spend so little time in their rooms that the lack of square footage and tiny signs of wear and tear hardly matter. These few flaws are more than compensated for by the hotel’s unique combination of modern construction, convenient location and a rooftop swimming pool – a blessing on a hot summer day in Madrid.

Lounge at Hotel Urso, Madrid, Spain

Hotel Urso

Opened in the summer of 2014, Hotel Urso offers chic interiors inside a palatial mansion along with amenities like a gym, restaurants and spa.

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hotel room with light tones, a crystal chandelier and views of Madrid

Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Madrid’s first luxury hotel, (now owned by Mandarin Oriental) renowned for impeccable service, is also the place to see and be seen.

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Suite at ME Madrid Reina Victoria, Madrid, Spain  - Suite ME

ME Madrid Reina Victoria

Frequent package deals make this hip hotel overlooking the historic Plaza de Santa Ana a downright steal. But just because it is inexpensive doesn’t make it cheap. The 192 rooms have quality finishes and decor that feels vaguely Scandinavian. Space is at a premium in the city center, so the ME has kept furnishings simple and sleek. Plasma televisions are built into the wall, and the simple platform beds, framed in pale wood, are dressed in crisp white linens. Bathrooms contain hydro-massage showers and Aveda products, a rarity in Spain. Perhaps the coolest features are built-in surround sound and iPod connections in every room. The hotel also has a small but functional fitness facilities—a good idea given the Plaza de Santa Ana’s many tempting tapas bars nearby.

The hotel’s common areas are equally appealing. Nightlife impresarios Rande and Scott Gerber designed the ground floor Midnight Rose lounge and the penthouse rooftop bar, The Roof, a trendy nightspot popular with celebrities and athletes. Jaime Renedo, star chef behind the gourmet speakeasy Asiana, created the menu. Despite the late crowd drawn to both the hotel and the neighborhood, ME’s management has done its best to keep the peace. Special soundproof windows provide a good, if not 100 percent effective, barrier between sleepy travelers and the crowds outside at nearby bars or queuing to enter the Penthouse. Plus, you can use your savings on the room rate to buy some earplugs.

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Hearth at Only You, Madrid, Spain

Only You

Set in a former palace that was built in the 1860s, Only You opened in the fall of 2013 and immediately became a darling of the international press and of the local community. The glamorous and super photogenic interiors (a rhinoceros head hangs over the fireplace in the lounge and the dining room has walls of vitrines holding blue and white porcelain plates) have appeared in glossy magazines as a sign of Madrid’s chic new look.

The hotel declares itself a four-star option with room service, a small gym in the basement, and has added special amenities like the option to have your included breakfast any time of the day. The hotel also offers other nice touches like a jewelry box in the safe and confidence-boosting clothing hangers that read “You look great in that.” Some rooms have fireplaces or wood-beamed ceilings, adding a traditional touch to the contemporary interiors. However, like hotels on the Left Bank of Paris, you have to be prepared for bathrooms that may veer on the small side, and those expecting truly full-service should come for a drink in the bar or brunch (or one of the events designed to draw in locals, like the popular Italian tapas night).

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Rosewood Villa Magna

A favorite of discerning business travelers, Rosewood Villa Magna is an elegant hotel with bold Art Deco influences and traditional touches.

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checkered terrace with chic deck seating and yellow umbrellas outside a pretty stone hotel with blue window frames

Santo Mauro, A Luxury Collection Hotel

When David Beckham and his family decamped to Madrid, they could have easily purchased the grandest mansion in the city. Instead, they checked into the Presidential Suite at the Santo Mauro, where they remained for six months (purportedly running up a bill of nearly $700,000). The hotel has also hosted celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, and it’s an excellent choice for any sophisticated traveler staying in Spain’s capital city. The discreet property is refined, while still attracting a stylish scene.

Renovated by interior designer Lorenzo Castillo and reopened as Marriott's Luxury Collection in December 2021, the property’s 49 rooms are spread throughout three historic structures, built by the Duke of Santo Mauro in 1894, in the exclusive Chamberí neighborhood of Madrid. The two primary residences served as homes for the Duke’s family while the third housed his stables. These days, all three contain some of the most coveted accommodations in the city. In the beautifully-designed common areas, the neoclassical architecture is accented with Persian carpets, gilded mirrors and antique chandeliers. Volumes of books line the library-turned-restaurant, and even the meeting rooms, situated in the former ballrooms, exude the elegant air of another era.

While the guest rooms in the main residence maintain this design-oriented theme with bold patterns and velvet curtains, no two rooms are exactly alike, and those in the annex residence are entirely different with a modern (albeit a bit bare) design. The stables rooms are in a duplex format. Throughout the property, historic details remain—the château is government protected, down to the doorknobs—and the arched windows, original mirrored doors and crown moldings remind guests that this kind of luxury has been around for ages. Still, the blend of old and new isn’t uncommon in Madrid (check out Hospes Puerta de Alcala and Palacio del Retiro for other examples); it’s just very well executed here.

An additional plus is the property’s garden terrace, wonderful for afternoon drinks or a romantic evening dinner. In the summer, breakfast and lunch are served outside, while during the colder months, guests can enjoy meals at La Biblioteca (the former library of the palace). Guests have access to a fully-equipped fitness center onsite and the new Longevity Hub by Clinique La Prairie spa with a menu that includes seven exclusive treatments from the prestigious Swiss brand.

Beyond its amenities, the hotel’s location is fantastic for business travelers and shoppers. Still, Paseo de la Castellana, headquarters to banks and consulting firms, is three blocks away, and right across Castellana is the tony shopping district of Salamanca. Sure, the Prado will require a short taxi ride, but that didn’t bother Beckham, and for other travelers who want a relaxed retreat in a city that literally never sleeps, it probably won’t matter either.

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bed with mustard pillows and modern art on the wall

The Principal Hotel Madrid

Set in a grand, Renaissance-style building just off Gran Vía, the Principal Madrid is a contemporary, boutique hotel with elegant charm.

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