Urso Hotel & Spa

Calle de Mejía Lequerica, 8, Madrid

It’s not that newer is necessarily better—Antonio Obrador, the hotelier and designer of famously luxurious retreats like Mallorca’s Cap Rocat, would hardly choose a neoclassical, turn-of-the-century palacio for his latest project, were that the case—but when a hotel gets the kind of buzz that the Urso Hotel & Spa got when it opened in the fall of 2014, there’s usually a reason.

In the hip, up-and-coming Salesas neighborhood, across the street from the recently reopened (and equally lively) Barceló food market, Madrid’s first five-star boutique hotel looks, from the outside, like many grandes dames: ornate, decadent, and just a bit over-the-top. Inside is another story; while many of the original details (hand-painted azulejo tiles, grand marble staircase, stained-glass windows, windowed wooden elevator) have been painstakingly restored with the help of local craftsmen, the style is undeniably contemporary, with even a hint of Scandinavian-inspired minimalism to offset the pull of the antique. This devotion to design alone would have merited the aforementioned buzz, but Obrador and his team didn’t stop there, throwing in one of Madrid’s most innovative restaurants, most soothing spas, most understatedly cool bars, and, of course, the superlative service required of any five-star stay.

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