The thing about Madrid’s Hotel Ritz is that, despite the name, it’s not technically a Ritz. In 1910, King Alfonso XIII toured Europe and decided that the Spanish capital lacked the kind of grand hotel worthy of visiting royalty that Paris and London had in their Ritz Hotels. And so he hired legendary hotelier César Ritz to create one for him in Madrid, with the same luxury ideals and a Spanish twist.
What he got was a grand belle epoque landmark on the Paseo del Prado, Madrid’s central promenade, next to the stock exchange and the Museo del Prado, just a couple blocks from the Parque del Retiro. Opulent suites have hosted dignitaries and celebrities for over a century, while the elegant lobby bar—with its live piano or Spanish guitar music, and antique furnishings—has been a fixture of Madrid society since its opening. The current Goya Restaurant is still considered one of the city’s best, despite its somewhat more Old World style than contemporary Spain is used to, and its leafy garden terrace hosts a parade of international glitterati. Recently acquired by Mandarin Oriental, the hotel is undergoing some updates in 2015 and 2016, guaranteed to maintain its standards of decadence, just as Alfonso himself would have imagined.