“A 19th-century royal palace turned chic urban retreat, in Madrid’s trendy Malasaña district”
An enormous L-shaped lounge sprawls across the ground floor and doubles up as a informal dining area, complete with wallpapered shelves lined with antique books on Madrid. As for the hotel's new restaurant, share classic Madrileño-style dishes among friends and family or enjoy a glass of wine by the open-plan bar. It’s here that Madrid’s high society come to relax, especially on Thursday evenings when a live jazz band performs their soulful songs. Upstairs, the 78 rooms are elegant, with tall windows and marble bathrooms; on the lower ground floor a Natura Bissé spa is the perfect place to decompress. A great base for the city, or a destination in its own right.
- The building’s heritage: history lives on in the hotel’s nooks and crannies
- Breakfasting in the light-filled, leafy conservatory
- Sophisticated service at all times; nothing is too much trouble here
- Well-located on the border of Malasaña and Chueca, both hip neighbourhoods, and just a 20-minute walk from the city centre
- The atmosphere of the Thursday night jazz session
- Our balcony looked out onto restoration works on the Count of Villagonzalo Palace, but work is due to complete in early 2017
- Families are welcome but there's nothing here for kids
- Bigger than a typical i-escape hotel, but such a gem, we couldn't resist adding it
Best time to go
Our top tips
Pop your head round the small meeting room on the 1st floor for a look at the superbly preserved wood-lined walls dating back to the 19th century.”
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (closed Sunday and Monday night)
- Welcome but not ideal
- Open all year
- Indoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
High-ceilinged rooms play it safe with classic décor. All feature seriously comfortable beds with textile headboards, leather-top desks, black and white photos of old Madrid, and grey marble bathrooms with Lab Room amenities. Minibars are stocked with local products, such as La Azucena crisps and Casa Paco sweets, and there are Nespresso machines in every room.
Our Junior Suite was nicely spacious, with a Juliet balcony. (Soon, it’ll look out onto the park of a refurbished palace, but during our stay this was still under construction.)
For all-out luxury, the Urso Terrace Suites have vast balconies overlooking Madrid; perfect sun traps for lazy days. The Terrace Junior Suites are also on the 4th floor, with equally lovely views of Madrid’s rooftops and the Telefonica tower in the distance. Style-wise, the Urso Suite was our favourite.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Coffee maker
- Safe box
Since our last visit, the hotel has opened its new restaurant, Media Ración, with the help of well-known Madrileño gourmand Fernando Cuenllas. The lunch and dinner menus offer an assortment of traditional sharing dishes in true España gastronomic style.
If you fancy a lighter meal or snack such as a delicious goat’s cheese salad, and a couple of more substantial dishes - eg roasted hake with sautéed vegetable – you can order and eat from the marble top bar or at the plush sofas in the lounge. The menu proudly points out that ingredients are sourced from the Barceló market directly opposite the hotel.
Breakfast is taken in the beautiful conservatory, under a skylight roof, surrounded by potted plants and stylish hummingbird-print wallpaper. It’s buffet style – expect local cheeses and prosciuttos, fruit salad and pastries – but you can top this up with eggs cooked to order.
- Coffee maker
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- While away an afternoon at the hotel’s Natura Bissé spa. After a session in the hammam and hydrotherapy pool, book in a treatment (perhaps a ‘Diamond Sublime’, which features a mud mask made with diamonds!) or zen out in the wood-lined relaxation room
- The hotel can organise guided trips to nearby Segovia or Toledo, both Unesco World Heritage Sites
- Don’t miss Madrid’s Golden Triangle - the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza galleries are all within minutes of each other and feature some of the world’s most famous masterpieces. Avoid queues by asking Urso's concierge to pre-book your tickets
- Go for churros and chocolate at the famous Chocolatería San Ginés - it’s a classic Madrid experience
- Check out the nearby food markets. We preferred Chueca’s more laid-back Mercado San Antón to the beautiful but touristy Mercado de San Miguel. Also worth a visit, and directly opposite the hotel, is Mercado de Barceló
- Rent a bike from the hotel and explore the trendy Malasaña and Chueca districts, packed full of independent boutiques, hip bars, restaurants and cosy cafes
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Language courses
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
- Wine tasting
Kids are welcome but given the sophisticated vibe and lack of amenities for little ones, it is not an obvious choice for families. Note that the spa is for 14+ year olds.
Babies (0-1 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
Baby cots can be placed in any room free of charge, while extra beds can be fitted in Junior Suites or the Urso Suite. There’s a strict maximum capacity of 3 people per room (including babies). A Standard Double and the Urso Suite on the first floor can be sectioned off and made into inter-connecting rooms.