This one is an investment in terms of the happy memories it will bring.
Set the scene
Step past the elegant doormen, caps raised, into a lobby where gold and silver leaves, suspended from the ceiling, catch the light that pours into the building through its vast crystal canopy roof. Indicative of the level of detail throughout the hotel, the leaves of this sculpture by Haberdashery represent the neighbouring Buen Retiro Park. The gold leaves are from endemic species such as the strawberry tree, the silver represents those trees brought from afar; the whole symbolises the world coming together through travel. Another few steps and you reach a fragmented mirror in Palm Court, which is a contemporary version of Velázquez’s mirror in Las Meninas. The whole brims with a sense of place, weaving the capital’s rich artistic heritage into a background that is unashamedly luxurious.
The legendary hotelier César Ritz, together with French architect Charles Mewes and Spanish architect Luis de Landecho, opened this Belle Epoque hotel in 1910, financed in part by King Alfonso XIII who, having honeymooned at The Ritz in both Paris and London, wanted Madrid to have one. Latterly, the Orient-Express group, now renamed Belmond, bought it in 2003 and it remained with them until 2015, when Mandarin Oriental purchased it with an investment partner. It closed in 2018 for the largest renovation in its 110-year history, with Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz and French designers Gilles and Boissier brought on board to preserve the soul and spirit of the building while bringing it into the 21st century.
The hotel now has 100 rooms and 53 suites, all large, light and supremely comfortable. Artistic details abound, such as the bespoke Córdoban leather headboards topping the oversized beds encased in exquisite linen. Bathrooms have marble floors and walls of an almost pure-white Dolomite stone, with rain showers and separate tubs supplied with Natura Bissé products in rosemary and white tea scents. Not just a hairdryer, but curling tongs too, come in a leather vanity case under the double basin. The suites have butler service, but for those who prefer to mix their own drinks, the in-room Maxi Bar offers a wide range of possibilities.
Food and drink
Extraordinarily impressive, whichever of the five venues you go to, all headed up by celebrated chef Quique Dacosta. Having introduced the concept of afternoon tea to Madrid in a previous incarnation, the Ritz once again offers scones with clotted cream in the leafy Palm Court. Deessa, all gold ceilings, restored chandeliers and huge round discs of dried salt decorating the walls, showcases Dacosta’s contemporary signature cooking. Try the smoked eel and chilli soup or the turbot in sherry sauce. Decadently delicious is the Champagne Bar, where Ruinart blanc de blancs gives way to Dom Pérignon as small bites from oysters with Champagne foam to potato purée with white truffle and egg yolk arrive before you. Then of course there is Madrid’s favourite garden, now embellished with an open kitchen and an open bar. Opt for the cold avocado, green tomato and jalapeño soup with shrimp.
With what must be the best staff-to-guest ratio in Europe, it is more than good, it is exemplary. Longstanding staff have stayed and new ones, courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, have arrived. It means the hotel ticks the boxes on soul and service.
Cultural, with the Prado Museum next door and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum opposite.
Children are welcome, and rooms can be made interconnecting for families.
There are four accessible rooms.