Your essential guide to the Spanish capital’s high-end hotel renaissance.
As Madrid stages its cosmopolitan comeback, some of the continent’s finest new hotels are setting the tone — including the Rosewood Villa Magna, the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, the Four Seasons, and a new outpost of the Edition. More are coming.
When the world stopped traveling in 2020, Spain’s capital city was littered with distressed properties looking to sell. Hotels were shuttered and real estate was cheap. Seizing the opportunity, real estate investors — with and without prior plans to invest — swooped in and rebuilt in such a spectacular fashion, even the boulevards seem to have a brand new shine.
According to Madrid’s tourism bureau, the city currently hosts 803 hotels with 15 more slated to open by 2024, including buzz-worthy brands like Thompson, Sonder, and Nobu. Sixty-four percent of the new hotels opened here in the last three years have four and five-star ratings. The city’s historic grande dames also received multi-million dollar refreshes, returning urban glamor to its storied streets — just in time for travel’s big rebound.
In a European metropolis like Madrid, the glamor and patina of its luxury hotels is a defining characteristic. It is both a sign of domestic social status and international appeal; a kind of calling card for the nation’s capital, and a point of pride for everyday locals. These three distinct properties fit the bill.
I. Rosewood Villa Magna | Paseo de la Castellana, 22
Some stays possess a beguiling magic, enveloping you in their world and coloring your impressions of a destination. Rosewood Villa Magna is one of those. Built on the site of the 19th-century Anglada Palace, it first opened as a hotel in 1972 and quickly became a hotspot for Spanish aristocrats. Following a 210 million euro 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 by the most luxurious shops in Madrid, the hotel Villa Magna still evokes a sense of royalty, with an aged brass façade that reflects the sun and a white stone porte cochere entrance that opens onto a spectacular garden courtyard before you reach the street. The property took the top spot in Travel & Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards this year. And so far, business has been good. Occupancy at Rosewood Villa Magna has “more than tripled since opening,” according to management, which declined to offer occupancy rates.
This success was not earned by leveraging hotel tech trends or flashy influencer feeds, but by committing to the cause of community. In this property’s four distinct restaurants, cocktail bar, courtyard and spa, you’ll find as many native Madrileños as there are expats, suits or foreign emissaries. And this is by design.
Ever since the travel-local trend took hold, most luxury hotels wizened to the fact that amenities — once reserved for guests only — should be opened to all customers. In doing so, Villa Magna not only optimizes food and beverage revenues, but creates a cultural hub where residents and travelers can mingle, mix, and be.
This being Spain, the main attraction is the late night dining. And Villa Magna’s signature restaurant Amós, led by Michelin-starred Chef Jesús Sánchez, is the marquee event. Don’t bother booking a table at 9pm, because the real show doesn’t start until around 10 — when the real Madrileños come to see, be seen, and carouse over the course of an 8-plate pre-fixe menu that showcases the haute cuisine of northern Spain’s Cantabrian Sea.
It’s a performance. The dining room itself, furnished in spacious banquettes, royal blue velvet upholstered chairs, and soft gold pendant lighting makes for a luxe stage to present the chef’s greatest hits. Tiny bites, like a quarter-sized anchovy sphere, lead to a few spoonfuls of pickled mussel paté before an entre-acte of small plates featuring caraméliséd foie gras on black olive sponge cake — all of which builds to a main dish crescendo of an effortlessly fall-apart hake filet swimming with Cantabrian cockles in a pool of green sauce.
It works because it feels personal. The restaurant is named after the chef’s grandfather Amós, who had 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 tiny village of Villaverde de Pontones on the gastronomic map when it earned 3 Michelin stars in 2019.
It’s why my waiter Alejandro from Seville is a little nervous about his English. He feels lucky to have landed this fancy gig, and aims to impress in his velvet blue vest and memorized wine chat. He tells me his parents are sweltering in Seville’s summer heat. He is young, scrappy, bearded, and earnest. Not yet jaded by life…If you visit the Villa Magna, you’ll see the hotel tagline “A Sense of Place” printed on every folio. But it’s the people who matter most.
II. Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid | Plaza de la Lealtad, 5
After a three-year renovation, this gilded dame seems to have lost none of her grandeur since opening in 1910, thanks to the work of Spanish architect Rafael de la Hoz and French interior design agency Gilles & Boissier. Most strikingly, the great steel and glass dome above the Palm Court restaurant, which had been hidden for 80 years, has been recovered — bringing blue sky and natural light into the social heart of the 153-room hotel.
It’s everything you’d expect from a Ritz, with the benefit of Mandarin Oriental management. Sophisticated refinery consistently caters to Anglo-Saxon, European and Asian tastes, which is a very delicate balancing act. But they are rewarded for it with strong brand loyalty. Regulars can expect proper English afternoon tea service set to live piano music, fresh flowers on your marble table, gold leaf accents adorning your delicate dessert, and an ultra-luxe champagne-and-tapas bar that seats only eight. And that’s just the restaurant.
This classic property manages to stay contemporary because it’s self-aware. They know the median age of their wealthy clientele, and they’re working to attract the next generation of travelers, who don’t want to stay cosseted in goose-down bedchambers — they want to be out discovering Madrid! Peruse the hotel’s Instagram account, and you’ll find promoted “MOExperiences,” which include private museum tours (the Prado museum is steps away), visits to the Liria Palace, and day-trip itineraries that highlight the city’s best gourmet markets, art galleries, clubs, restaurants and shops. This kind of golden-key access is what you should expect from a 5-star concierge, and the staff does not disappoint.
III. Four Seasons Hotel Madrid | Calle De Sevilla, 3
When in Madrid, do yourself a favor. Take an evening stroll through the crowd at Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s most renowned square, listening to the sounds of Flamenco guitar music spilling out of every corner. Then take refuge in the Four Seasons hotel on Calle De Sevilla. Cut straight through the lobby and take the elevator to the 7th floor rooftop. There awaits one of the best views of the city. Step just behind the cocktail bar, beneath a glorious 19th century bell tower perched at the precipice, and watch all the grand boulevards and historic monuments of Madrid sprawl out before you, dramatically illuminated by the city lights.
Madrileños got the memo. On a typical weeknight (after 10pm), the place is hopping. They come for the views, but also for the excellent craft cocktails, tapas and full Andalusian menu from brasserie Dani, helmed by Spanish chef Dani García and his 70-person Four Seasons’ staff — which is remarkable at a time when most properties are still struggling against the post-pandemic labor shortage. They’re there to ensure you’ll want for nothing. So, if you’re in the mood to snack on acorn-fed Iberico ham, pick apart a rosette of bluefin tuna, or photograph the edible flowers in your cocktail, this is the place to satisfy cravings.
The spirit of relaxed al fresco dining loosens the tie of formality, and seems to put everyone in a good mood. This is in large part due to the restaurant’s colorful Spanish colonial aesthetic, fashioned in red velvet and olive leather by the renowned Martin Brudnizki design studio. The dining room is anchored by a white marble-topped bar, attended by plush gold bar stools tucked beneath a ceiling mounted centerpiece of verdant green plants. Sure, it’s just a hotel bar — but it’s one worth traveling for.
On the whole, a visit to Madrid’s finest hotels reflects a dominant trend in the 5-star category: the best hotels simply aren’t contactless, even if they offer digital check-ins. At this level of luxury, chat bots, QR codes, and service apps cannot replace the value of human contact.
We can concede it’s time to move on from aging features like bidets and landline phones installed into bathroom walls. And tech does make traveling these days far more convenient. But the human touch is still premium to the human experience. Screens are merely add-ons to the art of hospitality. And in Madrid’s best hotels, you’ll find true artisans.
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