“A young, hip and immensely friendly hotel with a big slice of Pop-Arty attitude, just round the corner from Madrid’s buzzy Opera district”
Mario’s 54 rooms and suites are of the sort that raise a smile and an eyebrow when you step in. Designer Tomás Alía has decorated the rooms with a mix of bright colours - red, orange, green and blue - offset by plain white walls and bedding, and dark carpeting. Each room’s focal point is a floor-to-ceiling head wall behind the bed. These have either floral or geometric patterns with soft light filtering through translucent cut-outs. The mood created is soft and intimate, and each panel is a work of art in its own right. Sliding mirrored doors on wardrobes are both practical and stylish. Philippe Starck-style lamps look ‘just right’, as do flat-screened plasma TVs. Awaiting you on your angular bedside table is a copy of the declaration of human rights (it’s there to remind you that we’re all equal!)
Single Standard rooms, which are in the older part of the building, have small shower rooms with free-standing sinks and not much in the way of shelf space; they can be occupied by 2, but are definitely better suited to single occupancy. Double Standards are slightly larger and some benefit from balconies, while Executive Rooms have the boldest headboards and all come with balconies. Our favourite rooms, however, were the 3 huge Junior Suites, which are wonderfully bright and have lovely views over the picturesque street of Campomanes.
Bathrooms have been decorated in a quieter palette of grey and white and have swish stainless-steel fittings and free-standing sinks set on dark grey marble slabs. In the suites, which are larger with high ceilings, the sink area has been incorporated into the bedroom itself.
The breakfast room at Mario is another flight of decorative fancy. Small square-topped tables with perspex bucket chairs are illuminated by natural light that comes flooding in from 3 high windows. This is reflected off the white and apple green walls by perspex pannels, which have cut-out floral motifs. The effect is delightful.
Breakfast (extra cost) is a big buffet, laid up in the annex of the dining room. There are the usual cereals, juices and yoghurts as well as croissants, pains au chocolat and fruit and cereals. Cheeses and cold meats are also on offer, along with a selection of hot dishes including Spanish omelette, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out. Just across the road from Mario is Il Particolare, which serves exceptional Italian food. But you are in Madrid, and this is a great part of town for more trad castellano cuisine. If you prefer cosy and intimate eateries book a table at Taberneros and choose from an impressive list of raciones and a wine list as long as your arm. You’re also within walking distance of another Madrid institution, Lucío, with one of the city’s finest tapas menus. And if you’ve got money to burn, 2 top-end restaurants are just round the corner: the Café de Oriente next to the Palacio Real and the Taberna del Alabardero, close to the Opera house. Both offer superb Spanish cuisine.
Children are welcome at Mario. Extra beds and cots are provided on request. But remember that Mario’s rooms are by no means huge so if your budget allows, you’d be best to book an extra twin adjacent to your own.
Only the Junior Suites can fit an extra bed or baby cot.