If offered any location in the city, many a Madrileño would probably choose to live on the Parque del Retiro, a 350-acre park—once reserved for the royal family—that’s now the heart of the Spanish capital. A century ago, the aristocrats who built the private mansion later to become the AC Palacio del Retiro had the same idea, and so they commissioned an opulent ode to fashionable tastes and extravagant lifestyles, including frescoes by the hottest artists of the time, stained-glass windows from Paris, balconies overlooking the park, and an elevator to carry their horses up to the rooftop riding ring.
These days, the palace lacks horses, but the trendsetting and luxury themes remain. While the ornate neoclassical architecture has been lovingly preserved, the design team has complemented it with modern art and decor, such as Lichtenstein silkscreen prints and sleek midcentury furnishings. Carved wood panels and marble fireplaces sit side by side with Mies van der Rohe chairs. And, just as if the original aristocrats still lived here, every whim is answered without question. Who needs to find their own palace on the park when there’s the Palacio del Retiro?
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Overlooking the sprawling Parque del Retiro, the verdant heart of Madrid, the AC Palacio del Retiro could hardly be better situated for discovering the Spanish capital’s refined historic center. The park itself is a hub of city life, filled with winding walkways, pretty palaces, outdoor theaters, art galleries, and activities like rowboats for rent. The surrounding streets are lined with picturesque belle epoque palacios and ritzy restaurants for the well-heeled locals, but many of the city’s major sights also happen to be neighbors, including the Museo del Prado, the Plaza de Cibeles, the Reina Sofía museum, and the Puerta de Alcalá.
Need to Know
Rooms: 50 rooms, 15 suites. From $290. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Feeling more like a well-to-do friend’s living room than a ritzy restaurant-bar, the Suite Bar is an atmospheric Mediterranean restaurant dressed up for a cameo on Mad Men. Tapas, cocktails, and innovative, locally sourced small plates are served all day to a discerning crowd, against the backdrop of the lush park across the street. Spa and gym details: In addition to a full fitness center with modern equipment and classes, the hotel has a luxury spa that offers a full range of beauty and wellness treatments, as well as a whirlpool tub, sauna, and lounge area. Bicycles are also available to rent, for those who prefer to exercise outdoors.
Who's it best for: Well-dressed couples, fans of traditional luxury in modern dress, and aristocrats on holiday. Our favorite rooms: Higher-floor rooms at the front of the building have panoramic views of the Parque del Retiro. The opulent Presidential Suite is decorated with the original ornate paneled wood walls. And Superior Rooms have silkscreen prints of Roy Lichtenstein pieces as bathroom doors. For art lovers: Keep an eye out for the original frescoes that decorate some of the palace’s walls and ceilings. The first owners commissioned them from renowned Spanish symbolist painter Julio Romero de Torres.