If it’s paparazzi and scenesters you’re seeking, look elsewhere. This 19th-century ducal palace has seen its fair share of rich and famous faces over its years first as the Duke of Santo Mauro’s residence, then as the Canadian embassy, and now as an Autograph Collection hotel, but it also knows how to be discreet. Tucked away in the exclusive Chamberi area—a leafy, scenic neighborhood where Madrid’s 19th-century aristocracy built their private mansions—the AC Santo Mauro hides its secluded gardens, wrought iron balconies, and ornate sitting rooms behind carved stone walls.
Those who cross the threshold are treated to a haven of contemporary luxury: the hotel is still a palace, complete with acclaimed dining in the wood-paneled library, a decadent spa with a 1920s-inspired indoor pool, and the same original architectural features commissioned by the Duke himself. But the rooms have a bit more 20th-century flair, with modern art on the walls, clean-lined furnishings offsetting the building’s gaudier nature, and oversize marble bathrooms fit for a king. Luckily, you don’t have to be a king (or even a duke) to get the royal treatment here.
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Nestled between the trees on a quiet street north of Madrid’s city center, in the ritzy Salamanca neighborhood, this sprawling palace is within a stone’s throw of much of the city’s top dining and designer shopping. The wide boulevards are lined with greenery and ornate belle epoque buildings, with small neighborhood shops scattered in between. Calle de Serrano, a shopping destination, is just a few blocks away, as are landmarks like the National Library and the National Archaeological Museum. The vibrant nightlife and hipster boutiques of the up-and-coming Salesas area is a neighborhood away, and several metro stations put the city at your fingertips, although even major sights like the Parque del Retiro and Plaza de Cibeles are less than a 20-minute stroll through the scenic streets.
Need to Know
Rooms: 49 rooms, 19 suites. From $194. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: In the ornate rooms once the palace’s library, La Biblioteca serves traditional Spanish cuisine as a fine-dining experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; reservations are necessary to guarantee a table next to international glitterati. Tapas, light bites, and vino are served throughout the day in the art deco–inspired Chivas Bar, a well-dressed lounge whose soaring ceilings, geometric mirrors, and tall windows evoke both modern and vintage Madrid society. Meals and drinks from either menu can also be ordered to the serene garden at any time of day. Spa and gym details: In addition to a large indoor pool, modern fitness center, sauna, and steam room, the AC Santo Mauro has a full-service spa, run by Natura Bissé, which offers a range of beauty and wellness treatments. Bicycles are also available to rent, and each room has a signature beauty bar, with Natura Bissé’s luxury products for purchase.
Who's it best for: Luxury lovers with a sense of style; celebrities and royals laying low. Our favorite rooms: Garden-facing rooms with private balconies offer the best (and most idyllic) views in the house. Find an armchair: The lobby consists of several opulent former ballrooms, each decorated to a theme, from the bold and French-inspired Red Room to the chinoiserie-and-antiques Chinese Room. Retire with your sherry or vermouth to a secluded corner of one of these when the Chivas Bar feels a little too popular for your taste.