The Best Hotels in Madrid

Spain’s capital offers the best of food, art, architecture, and nightlife. For the best address in town, book a stay at AC Palacio del Retiro, set on the Parque del Retiro. For Old World splendor and a star-studded past, check in to the Gran Meliá Fénix. Foodies will want to score a room at Hotel Hesperia Madrid, home to one of Spain’s top restaurants, while design lovers will appreciate the details—old and new—at Urso Hotel & Spa in the hip Salesas neighborhood.

Plaza de la Lealtad, 5, 28014 Madrid, Spain
The Hotel Ritz is closed for renovations and set to reopen in late 2019.

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, guaranteed to maintain its standards of decadence, just as Alfonso himself would have imagined.
Calle de Zurbano, 36, Madrid
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.
Calle de Hermosilla, 2, 28001 Madrid, Spain
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.
Paseo de la Castellana, 57, 28046 Madrid, Spain
Spain takes its food seriously. After all, it’s the country that gave birth to El Bulli and, as of 2015, has 169 Michelin-starred restaurants (11 in Madrid alone). So it comes as no surprise that a top hotel on a main boulevard in the capital should be home to one of these temples to gastronomy, the two-Michelin-starred Santceloni. But the Hotel Hesperia Madrid doesn’t content itself with just a world-class restaurant. No, this sleek retreat—decorated boldly by some of Spain’s top designers, including Pascua Ortega, Erico Navazo, and Mercedes Gonzalez López-de-Carrizosa—is devoted to the best of contemporary Spanish dining, with a total of three acclaimed restaurants and a sultry scotch bar attracting the most discerning palates in Madrileño society. In between decadent meals—and exploring the ritzy shopping and myriad sights just outside the hotel’s front door—work up an appetite at the open-air gym up on the rooftop, yet another of the Hesperia’s claims to fame.
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.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Food + Drink
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East