The Beatles stayed here. Cary Grant stayed here. The Spanish royal family has even stayed here, in their own home city. Can there be any better endorsement?
A grande dame in a city known for drama and extravagance, the Gran Meliá Fénix is exactly the kind of traditionally luxe hotel every European capital needs. An imposing structure presiding over one of Madrid’s main avenues, the hotel’s first impression is topped only by its second: a columned marble lobby worthy of a palace, filled with elegant Louis XVII chairs and crowned with a stained-glass dome. Rooms exude Old World splendor, while Red Level suites take the royal residence atmosphere to the next level, with over-the-top service that includes a private lounge with an open bar, free breakfast, and a private balcony overlooking the city—even though many of the top suites also have scenic private terraces with hot tubs.
As with all opulent institutions, even nonresidents participate in the hotel’s ritzy society scene, courtesy of its acclaimed, art deco–styled brasserie and sultry cocktail bar where, if you order a martini, you’ll receive a numbered certificate in accordance with the automated martini counter over the bar. But, with a scene like this, most guests here don’t worry about counting their martinis.
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Presiding over the broad boulevard of the Paseo de la Castellana, the Gran Meliá Fénix is a fixture of the well-heeled Salamanca neighborhood. Its DRY Bar attracts refined locals to expertly mixed martinis any day of the week. One of Madrid’s top shopping streets, the Calle de Serrano, is at the end of the block, and is lined with designer boutiques, chic cafés, and major international chains. In the other direction, just across one of the many public gardens that dot the area, are the National Library and the National Archaeological Museum. And, while Salamanca can feel a bit sleepy and residential, major sights like the Parque del Retiro and Plaza de Cibeles, as well as the hustle and bustle of the Gran Vía, are just a few blocks south, a pleasant stroll through the scenic streets.
Need to Know
Rooms: 214 rooms, 11 suites. From $194. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Channeling Old World decadence from its wine list of more than 200 bottles to its dramatic marble, brass, and malachite bar, the recently opened Caray restaurant is a fine-dining brasserie that showcases high quality Spanish ingredients via renowned chef Miguel Román’s unpretentious menu. The private club–like DRY Martini Bar, though, is the real see-and-be-seen spot at the Gran Meliá Fénix, shaking up Madrid’s cocktail scene (if you’ll pardon the pun) with its creative concoctions, inventive tapas, extensive tea menu, and hip terrace. A well-stocked breakfast buffet is served each morning as well, but is not included in all rates. Those who stay in Red Level rooms have access to the Red Level Lounge, which includes breakfast and an open bar. Spa and gym details: The hotel has a 24-hour gym with a full range of modern equipment and a locker room. The atmospheric Thai Wellness Suite offers a unique selection of traditional Asian (Thai, Javanese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic) spa and wellness treatments.
Who's it best for: Wannabe, Old World movie stars, business travelers, and lovers of traditional luxury. Our favorite rooms: Not only do Red Level rooms include perks like a private lounge with an open bar, free tapas, and games, but they also have access to a private outdoor terrace on the seventh floor with hammocks and a hot tub overlooking the city. Some of the Red Level suites even have their own private balconies with hot tubs. Beatlemania: When you book a suite at the Gran Meliá Fénix, you might be following in the footsteps of the Beatles, who stayed in four of the suites here when they performed their only concert in Madrid.