Your essential guide to the Spanish capital’s upscale hotel renaissance.
As Madrid stages its cosmopolitan comeback, some of the continent’s best new hotels are setting the tone, including the Rosewood Villa Magna, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Four Seasons and a new Edition outpost. Others arrive.
When the world stopped traveling in 2020, the Spanish capital was littered with struggling properties looking to sell. Hotels were closed and real estate was cheap. Seizing the opportunity, real estate investors – with or without prior investment plans – have rushed in and rebuilt so dramatically that even the boulevards seem to have a whole new shine.
According to Madrid’s tourist board, the city currently has 803 hotels with 15 more expected to open by 2024, including trendy brands like Thompson, Sonder and Nobu. Sixty-four percent of new hotels opened here in the past three years are four and five star. The city’s historic grande dames have also received multi-million dollar refreshes, returning urban glamor to its historic streets – just in time for the big trip bounce.
In a European metropolis like Madrid, the glamor and patina of its luxury hotels is a defining feature. It is both a sign of national social status and international appeal; a sort of calling card for the nation’s capital and a point of pride for everyday residents. These three separate properties fit the bill.
I. Rosewood Villa Magna | Paseo de la Castellana, 22
Some stays have a bewitching magic, enveloping you in their universe and coloring your impressions of a destination. Rosewood Villa Magna is one of them. Built on the site of the 19th-century Anglada Palace, it opened as a hotel in 1972 and quickly became a hotspot for Spanish aristocrats. Following a €210 million investment by RLH Properties, the 154-room property underwent extensive renovations led by Spanish architect Ramón de Arana and reopened in October 2021.
Located on Paseo de la Castellana, a boulevard lined with Madrid’s most luxurious boutiques, Hotel Villa Magna still evokes a sense of royalty, with an aged brass facade that reflects the sun and a white stone porte-cochere that opens onto a spectacular garden courtyard before reaching the street. The property took the top spot in Travel & Leisure’s annual report The best prices in the world This year. And so far, business has been good. Occupancy at Rosewood Villa Magna has “more than tripled since it opened”, according to management, which declined to offer occupancy rates.
This success was not earned by taking advantage of hotel tech trends or flashy influencer feeds, but by committing to the cause of the community. At this property’s four distinct restaurants, cocktail bar, courtyard, and spa, you’ll find as many native Madrileños as there are expats, costumers, or foreign emissaries. And that’s by design.
Since the trend of local travel took hold, most luxury hotels realized that amenities – once reserved for guests – should be open to all guests. In doing so, Villa Magna not only optimizes food and beverage revenue, but also creates a cultural hub where residents and travelers can mingle, mingle and be.
This being Spain, the main attraction is late night dining. And Villa Magna’s signature restaurant, Amós, run by Michelin-starred chef Jesús Sánchez, is the star event. Don’t bother booking a table at 9pm, because the real show doesn’t start until around 10am – when the real Madrileños come to see, be seen and party over an 8-plate pre-fixed menu that puts showcasing the haute cuisine of the Cantabrian Sea from northern Spain.
It’s a show. The dining room itself, furnished with spacious banquettes, royal blue velvet upholstered chairs and soft gold pendant lighting, provides a luxurious stage for showcasing the chef’s greatest hits. Tiny bites, like a quarter-sized sphere of anchovies, lead to a few spoonfuls of marinated mussel pâté before an in-between of small plates of caramelized foie gras on a black olive sponge cake – all transforming as a main course crescendo of a dish effortlessly collapsed hake fillet swimming with Cantabrian cockles in a pool of green sauce.
It works because it feels personal. The restaurant is named after the grandfather of chef Amós, who never realized his dream of being a restaurateur. And the menu is a gastronomic tour of Cantabria, where in 1993 Sánchez founded Cenador de Amós and put the small village of Villaverde de Pontones on the gastronomic map when it obtained 3 Michelin stars in 2019.
That’s why my server Alejandro from Sevilla is a bit nervous about his English. He feels lucky to have landed this classy gig and aims to impress in his blue velvet waistcoat and memorized wine talk. He tells me that his parents are suffocating in the Seville summer heat. He is young, rambling, bearded and serious. Not yet jaded by life… If you visit Villa Magna, you’ll see the hotel’s slogan “A Sense of Place” printed on every folio. But it’s the people that matter most.
II. Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid | Plaza de la Lealtad, 5
After a three-year renovation, this golden lady seems to have lost none of its grandeur since it opened in 1910, thanks to the work of Spanish architect Rafael de la Hoz and French interior design agency Gilles & Boissier. Most strikingly, the large steel and glass dome above the Palm Court restaurant, which had been hidden away for 80 years, has been reclaimed, bringing blue skies and natural light into the social heart of the 153 hotel. bedrooms.
It’s everything you’d expect from a Ritz, with the added bonus of Mandarin Oriental management. The sophisticated refinery constantly caters to Anglo-Saxon, European and Asian tastes, which is a very delicate balancing act. But they are rewarded with strong brand loyalty. Regulars can expect fine English tea service with piano music, fresh flowers on your marble table, gold leaf accents adorning your delicate dessert and an ultra-luxurious champagne and tapas bar which can only accommodate eight people. And that’s just the restaurant.
This classic property manages to stay contemporary because it is self-aware. They know the median age of their affluent clientele and strive to appeal to the new generation of travellers, who don’t want to stay pampered in goose down rooms, but rather set out to explore Madrid! Scroll through the hotel’s Instagram account and you’ll find the promoted “MOExperiences”, which include visits to private museums (the Prado Museum is a short walk away), visits to the Liria Palace and day itineraries that highlight showcasing the city’s best gourmet markets, art galleries, clubs, restaurants and boutiques. This kind of golden key access is what you should expect from a 5 star concierge, and the staff won’t disappoint.
III. Hotel Four Seasons Madrid | Calle De Sevilla, 3
In Madrid, do yourself a favor. Take an evening stroll through the crowds of Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s most famous square, listening to the sounds of flamenco guitar pouring in from every corner. Then take refuge at the Four Seasons hotel on Calle De Sevilla. Cross the hall and take the elevator to the roof of the 7th floor. There awaits you one of the most beautiful views of the city. Pass just behind the cocktail bar, under a magnificent 19th-century bell tower perched on the edge of the precipice, and watch all of Madrid’s grand boulevards and historic monuments spread out before you, dramatically illuminated by the city lights.
Madrileños received the memo. On a typical weeknight (after 10pm), the place comes alive. They come for the view, but also for the excellent craft cocktails, tapas and extensive Andalusian menu at Brasserie Dani, run by Spanish chef Dani García and his 70-person team from the Four Seasons – remarkable at a time where most properties are still struggling with post-pandemic labor shortages. They are there to make sure you don’t miss a thing. So if you’re in the mood to munch on some acorn-fed Iberian ham, crack a rosette of bluefin tuna, or photograph the edible flowers in your cocktail, this is the place to satisfy cravings.
The spirit of casual alfresco dining loosens the bond of formality and seems to put everyone in a good mood. This is largely due to the restaurant’s colorful Spanish Colonial aesthetic, fashioned in red velvet and olive leather by famed design studio Martin Brudnizki. The dining area is anchored by a bar covered in white marble, accompanied by plush gold bar stools nestled under a ceiling-mounted centerpiece of verdant green plants. Sure, it’s just a hotel bar, but it’s worth the trip.
Overall, visiting Madrid’s finest hotels reflects a dominant trend in the 5-star category: the best hotels are simply not contactless, even if they offer digital check-ins. At this level of luxury, chatbots, QR codes and service apps cannot replace the value of human contact.
We can concede that it’s time to move on from aging features like bidets and landline phones installed in bathroom walls. And technology is making travel much more convenient these days. But the human touch is still paramount to the human experience. The screens are only complements to the art of receiving. And in the best hotels in Madrid you will find true craftsmen.