26 Feb Relais & Châteaux Hotel Orfila Madrid
Converted from a small palace built in 1886, the decor of this Relais & Chateaux accredited hotel (the only one in Madrid) retains the grandeur of its past life, with all the homeliness you’d expect from a family-owned and run hotel. The marble lobby, decorated with ornate Venetian antique furniture, chinoiserie vases and period artwork, flows through to airy dining and sitting rooms, and a terraced courtyard garden beyond. With its elegant centre-piece fresco and fountain, it’s the perfect quiet spot for relaxing.With all the attractions so close, you really have no excuse for missing any of them, no matter how little time you’ve got. Explore the famous Prado and Thyssen art museums, rent a rowboat for a paddle around the Buen Retiro park’s lake, wander the laneways surrounding the 17th-century Plaza Mayor, then take a pintxos-sampling, people-watching break at the Mercado de San Miguel, one of Madrid’s oldest food markets.
The hotel has 32 spacious rooms, all individually decorated in a classic style with period furniture, cute striped wallpaper accents, and soft colors. They’re elegant but dated, with somewhat stodgy beige carpeting and a pastel palette that may feel a little bland to some. All rooms have modern amenities, including free Wi-Fi, smart TVs, minibars with drinks and snacks, iPod docks, and electronic safes. All but standard Superior Rooms also feature Nespresso machines. Suites have separate living areas and walk-in closets, and suite rates include free airport transfers. Bathrooms are spacious and spotless, with double sinks, shower/tub combos with jets and rain showerheads, magnifying mirrors, hairdryers, and a good array of hotel-brand toiletries.
With two Michelin-star chef Mario Sandoval in charge of the kitchen since April 2017, it’s worth staying in for a meal at the Jardin de Orfila, with seasonal options such as lobster tartare and lamb shoulder with pancetta and chorizo crumbs. An Excellent breakfast is served every morning here.
The location, on the edge of three districts, is perfect for seeing the many sides of Madrid. For business travellers, it’s close to the Paseo de la Castellana; for weekenders it’s within walking distance of Retiro park, the Prado museum and the upmarket shopping districts of Goya and Serrano. It’s also very close to the northern end of Chueca, one of the trendiest areas for boutiques, bars, restaurants, and the must-visit San Anton food market. To top it all off, it’s on a quiet, residential street.
Service is excellent and personal – on arrival at 2am, the receptionist went out of his way to help us find a place that would still serve dinner, and also recommended one of city’s hippest, most happening rooftop bars. Ditto at breakfast: coffee orders and favourite tables are remembered. Facilities are limited owing to the age and size of the building, but most guests won’t mind, as much of their time (in spring and summer) will be spent in the beautiful terraced garden, which has a grand, centrepiece fresco. The hotel offers airport transfers for a fee.
Calle de Orfila 6, Madrid, Community of Madrid 28010, Spain. Phone 3 (491) 702-7770.