Old meets new at Madrid’s first five-star boutique hotel
A palatial early 20th century building, the Urso Hotel & Spa blends its exterior neo-classical looks with a sleek, modern interior, drenched in marble and honey-toned wood. Something of a rarity in central Madrid, the hotel inhabits an entire block, restored by architect and designer Antonio Obrador who transformed the building into an elegant, sophisticated hotel. He kept many of the architectural features to create a discreet ambiance, while working with local craftspeople – an ironmonger, carpenter, vertical garden specialist and ébéniste – to restore the building and its interiors while preserving its history, with highlights including a restored antique elevator – still in use – and four stunning original early 20th century stained-glass windows.
Set between the bourgeois neighbourhood of Chamberi, the up-and-coming Tribunal area, and the trendy Chueca district, Urso Hotel & Spa is surrounded by grand embassy buildings, wealthy residential areas and local, independent boutiques – with Barcelo food market and Madrid’s foodie scene also right on the doorstep.
The bright lobby lounge, with an array of welcoming sofas just begin to be curled up in, was the perfect respite from a thundering Madrid rainstorm and with a well-stocked champagne bar within arm’s reach and a dulcet soundtrack piping through the speakers, it’s tempting to spend an afternoon ensconced in an armchair with a book and a glass of chilled rioja.
The 78 rooms and suites are bright and fresh, with vintage photos of 1920s and 30s Madrid adorning the walls and adding another dose of history to this landmark building. The rooms include the Urso Hotel & Spa Suites, vast penthouse-style spaces on the top floor with marble bathrooms, as well as two Urso Hotel Spa & Terrace Suites, each with a private terrace for outdoor celebrations and breakfast under the Spanish sun. It’s the little touches that make each room extra welcoming; the fine natural fabrics in muted tones, extra comfortable mattresses, Nespresso coffee machines and minibars stocked with local products - everything adds up to a luxurious five star experience.
After getting caught in a downpour the Urso spa was a welcome respite, especially as during our chosen hour we were the only guests in situ. The first branded luxury hotel spa in Madrid, the spa offers treatments by the prestigious skincare specialists, Natura Bissé and Sisley Paris in its three treatment rooms. We indulged in the Hammam, steam room and hydrotherapy pool before a cosying up for a post-swim snooze in the relaxation room. Steam, swim, snooze repeat.
Food is high on the Urso Hotel agenda. Something of a perfect start to the day, breakfast takes place in a stunning vertical garden room flooded by natural light, surrounded by bamboo trees and moss. Room service throughout the day includes delicacies from neighbouring shops; Urso Hotel & Spa’s bakery is supplied by one of the oldest bakers in town, while cold cuts and Iberico ham are served straight from the market opposite the hotel.
The hotel’s newest gastronomic proposal is Media Ración, the restaurant created by Fernando Cuenllas of the legendary Madrid restaurant Cuenllas. An enticing menu of light bites, sharing plates and small tapas sourced from the neighbouring Mercado de Barcelo, is matched with the finest wines to create an offering that neither guests nor locals can resist, from acorn-fed Iberico ham to Cantabrian anchovies and classic croquetas.
With its unique proposition, the location might be suited to the city traveller but the Urso’s offering is pure luxury; the perfect antidote to a busy weekend in the city.
From €200 for a B&B stay in a Double Room and from €570 for a B&B stay in the Urso Hotel & Spa Terrace Suite – including breakfast and based on two people sharing.
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