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Madrid Sessions: The Best Hotels for Creatives

Updated: Nov 8, 2018

In addition to style, brilliant boutique hotels are about how we live, and so you are as likely to find a yoga or cooking class, a library of interesting books, an all-day lounge or a curated cocktail as you are a chaise lounge or light fixture that you are desperate to have at home. For a Creative, environment is everything and the hotels on our list have just the right dose of vibe, privacy, and service.

ME Madrid Reina Victoria

No hotel can be truly lovable without warmth, character and a sense of place. What we like most about ME by Meliá, and the reason it wins the featured spot in the Madrid series, is that it is a complete environment for Creatives from top to bottom, lobby to rooftop. But ME is more than just a luxury hotel. It is a personality-led brand that fuses lifestyle with local tastes to attract a clientele with a love for art & design, international cuisine, and world music. By capturing these elements in urban and resort destinations, the ME philosophy adds a personal touch to every experience.

Outside, ME Madrid is a gleaming white avant-garde structure that sits prominently in the heart of the city at the opposite end of the square to the Teatro Español, Spain’s national theatre. This is the center of the Barrio de Las Letras, or Literary Quarter, named for the many writers who have lived in the area over the centuries. These days, the area is better known for its many bars and restaurants.

Let’s go inside, but first a bit of history. It was built a century ago and when the grand and stately structure first launched as the Gran Hotel Reina Victoria in 1923, it also served as a social fixture for the city’s elite, literati (Hemingway was a loyal guest), and most interestingly, bullfighters, particularly Manolete - a bull’s head in the lounge is a tribute to the building’s history.

Fast forward to 2015: under the design leadership of British architect Keith Hobbs of United Designers, the property is now ME Madrid, ME by Meliá brand’s first urban hotel. The striking facade has been meticulously preserved and the glamour of the Reina Victoria’s former life has filtered through to the present day while the interiors have been revamped. It now boasts an eclectic decor, combining exclusive designer furniture with contemporary artwork and neutral colours. To top it off, lounge music creates an atmosphere that perfectly matches the hotel’s philosophy. It is Skandi-chic with Eames-style chairs.

There are 180 rooms and 12 suites. The rooms are sleek and stylish and designed around the mantra "everything is possible" with maxi bars, DVD selections, Plasma TV, iPod dock, Playstations, Wii consoles, and Aveda toiletries as standard. There is 24-hour room service and pets have their own menu with dishes including suckling pig with couscous. Seriously.

Restaurant maestro Tomás Tarruella is behind the hotels hip ground floor eatery, Ana la Santa. The space is airy and leafy, with floor-to-ceiling windows and simple blond-wood tables. There is something for everyone on the menu, which ranges from tasty grilled goat chops to tangy Thai monkfish green curry. There are tapas, salads, sandwiches and rice dishes, with plenty of choice for vegetarians. This is a place that works as a sort of trendy canteen for lunch but also as a romantic spot for dinner – particularly the tables on the covered terrace section with a view of the square.

Topside, and accessed via private elevator, the hotels newly renovated RADIO is one of the best rooftop bars in Spain. Split into eight unique areas, designed for live music, entertainment, signature cocktails and a globe-trotting menu imagined by chef David Fernández, RADIO provides spectacular panoramic views of Madrid and live DJ sets every night to keep your spirits high well into the wee hours.

ME is the place to be, and the the place to be seen. ME Madrid has established itself as one of the most trendsetting hotels in the capital, attracting creatives and celebrity guests from all over the world including George Clooney, Naomi Campbell, Jenifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio – to name only a few. There are currently ME by Meliá hotels in Miami, Milan, London, Ibiza, Mallorca, Madrid, Cabo and Cancun, and ME Dubai, designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid, is set to launch in 2018.

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7 Islas

Malasaña is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods of Madrid and the lower part, rebranded Triball, is gradually turning from grungy to gentrified with some of the city's coolest bars, boutiques, and hotels. Enter 7 Islas. Fashionable and fun with cocktails so natural they are almost health drinks, 7 Islas is the new in-the-know place to stay in Madrid.

Designed by the Kikekeller design studio, the 7 Islas resembles an art gallery in an industrial

warehouse. The 79 rooms – Easy, Deluxe and Penthouse (with terrace) – are airy and bright,

decorated in natural shades with pale wooden floors, and soft handmade rugs.

7 Craft Bar, the hotel’s lobby bar run by star barman Narciso Bermejo, is a venue for both locals and visitors, with an incredible atmosphere for conversation and relaxing. The bar is versatile and friendly as it also plays the role as a café and eatery in the early hours of the day. It’s also well equipped for those wanting to wind down with a selection of magazines and newspapers.

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Hotel Circulo Grand Via

Amid the nightlife and upscale shops of Gran Via, grand architecture meets cool contemporary style in this high-end, adults-only hotel located in the Casino Gran Vía Madrid building. A minute's walk from the nearest metro station and a 5-minute walk from the iconic Puerta del Sol, it is the third hotel incorporated into the Autograph portfolio - one of the Marriott luxury hotel chains - together with the famous AC Santo Mauro and AC Palacio del Retiro.

Circulo’s main event is Casino Gran Vía, the most famous casino in Madrid featuring traditional Baccarat, Poker and Black Jack tables as well as American Roulette. The casino has three floors set around an atrium with a spectacular stained-glass domed ceiling by the Parisian studio Mauméjean. While décor around the gaming tables is typically ornate and blingy, the hotel section is all elegant contemporary style in muted neutral tones with pops of jade and mustard. Imagine a sort of Lacroix/Armani mash-up and you'll get the idea.

The hotel’s overall design aesthetic is inspired by the building’s historic role as a gentleman’s

club. Muted colours, textured fabrics and aged wood are artfully combined to balance the

majestic with the contemporary. A photographic art exhibition entitled “Memories of Gran Via”composed of 175 historic pictures is displayed throughout the guestrooms and public areas offering a fascinating perspective on Madrid in decades past. There is a small – albeit

perfectly-formed – reception area but no lobby or lounge. The swift access from the street to the rooms might well make the Círculo Gran Vía a popular choice for people who do not wish to be seen for one reason or another. The 71 chic rooms are havens of pared-back luxury, providing the perfect backdrop for prepping for and recovering from the city's legendary nightlife.

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Praktik Metropol

Don't be fooled by the entrance to Praktik. The hotel is set in a historic but simple building on the Calle de la Montera, one of the city’s busiest spots, but inside all is calm and the beautifully renovated interior, the work of Lázaro Rosa-Violán and Contemporain Studio, is characterized by vintage-style design with Scandinavian touches.

The mid-range Metropol has an overall fun and youthful atmosphere. The 68 rooms are fresh

and contemporary, done out in white panelling with sculptural lighting and walk-in showers, and some (especially the corner rooms) have brilliant views down to Gran Vía and out over the city. The two most striking areas of the Praktik Metropol are an open-air rooftop terrace with impressive 360o panoramic views, located on the ninth floor with tables and loungers for the ultimate in relaxation after a day in the city. The other is adjacent to the reception, where you will discover a spacious welcoming lounge with sofas, armchairs, and tables, featuring broad windows overlooking Montera Street.

They don’t do breakfast or food service but there’s a comfy lounge with a communal table to

bring your own food and an there is an attached restaurant, Tapa Tapa, where you can enjoy a wide array of over 50 tapas dishes. The famous shopping streets are in front of your room (Gran Via and Calle de Fuencarral with all of the Spanish high street chains) and if you’re looking for cultural activities, the Puerta del Sol and the Prado museum are within easy walking distance. We would highly recommend the Praktik Metropol to those who don’t want to spend a ton of euros on their hotel room but still want to stay fresh & clean in a minimalistic design environment. You'd be hard-pressed to find better value anywhere in Europe than here in this overhauled hotel.

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Hotel Santo Mauro

Located in Chamberi, famous in more recent times as the Beckhams' first residence in Madrid, the exquisite AC Santo Mauro is discreetly hidden away in the embassy-lined streets that separate the Castellana from busy Santa Engracia. Out of sight behind tall walls and trees, the once palatial home of the Duke of Santo Mauro is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

Guest experiences at the hotel are customized to the smallest detail. Dining at the Santo Mauro Restaurant, where you are surrounded by original architectural fittings and walls of books, is like being at the home of special friends. (Want the recipe? Just ask and they'll give it to you.) The 51 rooms are dressed in parquet floors, iconic furnishings, complimentary mini-bars, artful lighting, and boast king-size beds and floor-to-ceiling picture windows hung with opulent silk drapes.

The public spaces of this hotel received a chinoiserie-accented face-lift from Designer Lorenzo Castillo in 2011, giving it the air of an English country house on steroids. The old palace library has been converted into a high-class restaurant and former ballrooms are now conference rooms that open onto immaculately kept gardens. Other amenities include an indoor pool and spa, a gleaming mirrored Art Deco gin bar, and a lush and tranquil garden.

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The Principal

Popular with the media and fashion crowd, the side street entrance to The Principal is very

discreet. The grand early-20th century building has been transformed into a cool oasis with a

soothing palette of dark tones. It has the feel of a private club one might find in New York or


There are 76 rooms and suites with high ceilings and large windows. Some have small

balconies. All have more or less the same elegant charcoal grey décor with black carpets, the

difference being mainly the views and the size. There is a small gym and a sauna which you

can book for private use (no charge). Massages and other treatments are available in the

Wellness Suite. There are cushioned sunbeds on the seventh-floor roof terrace but only an

ornamental pool unfortunately. Personal shoppers, private tours and other services can be

arranged on request.

The Ático restaurant is overseen by Ramon Freixa, who has two Michelin stars at his restaurant at the Único, which is The Principal’s sister hotel in Madrid. Here things are a lot less formal but still very appealing, with dishes such as roast monkfish with a spicy crust and creamy seafood soup, razor clam socorrat rice with pigs’ trotters and duck burger with tomato chutney and green mustard. Vegetarians could put a decent meal together from the starters but there are no meat-free mains. Cocktail-sipping is a bit of a competitive sport in Madrid, and there’s no better place for serious practice than La Terraza, the hotel’s glass-walled seventh-floor terrace. Sip on dry martinis, experimental gin concoctions and coconut-water libations. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of snow-capped mountains beyond the city’s gleaming rooftops.

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Dear Hotel

At Dear Hotel, leading interior designer Sandra Tarruella has created a calm haven above the

hectic Gran Vía using a palette of pale greys and natural tones. Floors are oak and furniture is a clean-cut Scandinavian style. There is only a small reception and lobby area at ground level as everything happens up on the top-floor terraces. 162 spacious rooms face Gran Vía or Plaza de España. Depending on your preference, there are options for Deluxe, Premium and Suites. Unusually, all rooms give onto the street so you won’t have a depressing view of an inner courtyard here. All rooms are equipped with high speed Wi-Fi, 40” Smart TV, big beds with 300 threads Egyptian cotton sheets, bathrobe, slippers and audio docking systems for smartphones.

Atop the premises' a dazzling rooftop swimming pool, 360o panoramic sights and sounds and sites of the city. The adjacent solarium is the place to be over sunset too, with a drink and tapas to hand. The sky lounge and 'Nice To Meet You' restaurant are the crème de la crème. Open all day serving modern well balanced Mediterranean menus and popular with non guests in the evenings so book ahead for dinner.

Nightlife areas such as Conde Duque, Triball, Malasaña and Chueca are a short walk away.

Plaza España and Noviciado metro stops are a couple of minutes’ away. The convenience and practicality makes a great option for leisure and business travellers.

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Hotel Palacio Del Retiro

As part of its commitment to finding unusual and unique buildings for their premises in every

city, the AC hotel chain has refurbished a former 20th-century palace and National Heritage site, turning it into a five-star hotel. Located within the Golden Triangle of Art formed by the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, the AC Palacio del Retiro hotel is one of the most desirable places to stay in the city. Opposite the Retiro park in the smartest area of Madrid, once owned by a noble family with extravagant habits (the elevator carried their horses up and down from the rooftop exercise ring), this spectacular hotel is a case in point that classical and modern décor can happily coexist when done right. A soaring hall adorned with marble pillars and intricate crown molding, the lobby sets the regal tone of this hotel. Relics of the mansion's grandiose past include baseboards and fountains covered with ceramics, Parisian stained-glass windows, marble floors and columns, and original moldings. The upper floors are decorated with murals by Julio Romero de Torres and Talavera tiles adorn the walls throughout the hotel.

All 50 individually decorated rooms have double-height ceilings and superb views of the nearby Parque del Buen Retiro. Designer Isabella Claramont has combined the ornate splendor of the original 1908 structure with unashamedly modern furniture. If you go for a run around the park, afterwards you can relax in the sauna and whirlpool in the small spa area. The gym – open from 6am to 11pm – has Life Fitness machines and a personal trainer or a yoga or Pilates instructor can be arranged. Massages, hairdressing, manicures, pedicures and other beauty treatments are available on request.

The restaurant, Índice, is also a fusion of old and new. Creative variations on traditional

Mediterranean and international dishes are served alongside an impressive selection of D.O.

wines. 50 black-clad staff (that's one per room!) provide faultless service. If you want to spoil

yourself on a special weekend or an anniversary or if you think the frenetic downtown vibe might be a bit much 24/7 and would prefer to dip into it – and step out of it – when you feel like it, you could do no better.

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Only You

Get over the slightly incongruous name of this beautiful boutique hotel and you’ll find effortless interior design, stylish bedrooms and a great location in the thumping barrio of Chueca. For those seeking one of the coolest places to stay in the city, you can’t go wrong here. Only You is in a charming former palace that dates back to the 19th century, all arched windows, Juliette balconies, window shutters and awnings. The original central courtyard is now a quadruple-height lobby which, under the vision of Barcelona-based interior designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán, is the centrepiece of the hotel: expect an eclectic mix of oversized lamps and vases, retro sofas, art books and enviable 1970s-style coffee tables.

This is a 24-hour hotel for a 24-hour city. There is no established check-in time, just make sure to request a late check-out in advance, otherwise you will automatically be expected to leave at noon, and you can order breakfast at any time of the day (a great thing considering the late-night bar culture of the city). There is also a 24-hour gym, and plenty of sophisticated meeting rooms. Service is polished and faultless. There are 125 rooms, each individually designed with colonial overtones, modern art and plenty of personality, are generously appointed, featuring modern amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi Internet, flat screen TVs, and iPhone docks.

The YOUnique Restaurant offers all-day breakfast alongside a menu of seasonal Mediterranean fare. Over in The Padrino Bar — once the ground floor of what was a building of noble houses — you can indulge in Iberian cheese, a good wine, and book; taking in everything this charming hotel has to offer: culture, gastronomy, history, and hospitality. In short, Only You Boutique Hotel Madrid is the perfect contrast between tradition and contemporary trends. If that’s your bag, this should be the Only place You stay in this famous city.

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Vincci The Mint

The Vincci Mint is the sort of place that you escape to, rather than just being somewhere to

sleep. With zingy design, healthy food, naughty cocktails and a spectacular roof terrace, it is

totally on trend and fits right into the Madrid vibe. Designed by the renowned Jaime Beriestain, The Mint occupies an elegant, early 20th-century building on Grand Via and lives up to its name with cool green shades throughout, from peppermint to pistachio, pea, lime, olive and emerald. Perky accent fabrics in reds, blues and shimmery metallics provide the perfect visual contrast.

The bar doubles up as the reception desk, which means checking in is much more of a fun

experience than usual, as you swing around on a stool with a cold beer in hand. The 88 rooms and suites are spacious and light with wooden floors, duck-egg blue and teal colour schemes and very comfortable beds. Peppermint and Tower suites have large terraces. More drinks and snacks await up on the attractive roof terrace, dispensed, rather surprisingly, from a food truck. Drinks and food are served all day. There are great smoothies, cocktails, tapas, sandwiches, burgers and sharing plates such as oxtail kebab, roasted vegetables with romesco sauce, ceviche and Thai-style mussels.

The trendy Chueca neighbourhood is just behind the hotel – you can just slip out of the back

door to explore its boutiques, bars and cafés. For guests in search of the most historic Madrid, the accommodations are located close to Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, the district of the Austrians and Plaza de Cibeles, among other points of interest. Those who prefer shopping or entertainment have a multitude of fashionable, national and international shops from which to choose, in addition to a broad offering of theaters and restaurants for enjoying your leisure time in Madrid.

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The Wrap

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