Lonely Planet Writer

One of Madrid's oldest hotels has undergone a modern makeover

Loved by artists, writers, poets and intellectuals, Madrid’s Gran Hotel Inglés was the centre of literary gatherings, political revolts and the most glamorous parties of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some 130 years after first opening its doors, the hotel has undergone a modern transformation and is now being reimagined as a sophisticated boutique hotel.

The rooms are bright and spacious. Image by Gran Hotel Inglés

Gran Hotel Inglés opened in 1886 and was Madrid’s first luxury hotel. Boasting features that were unheard of at the time, such as lifts, lighting, steam heating and bathrooms on every floor, the hotel set the standard for luxury accommodation in the city. Over the years it attracted famous writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals like Virgina Woolf, Henri Matisse, Carlos Gardel and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán. However, the hotel fell into disrepair after years of neglect. This year though, Gran Hotel Inglés reopened as a new member of Leading Hotels of the World, following a US$20 million makeover by the Rockwell Group, whose portfolio includes the New York Edition, the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and the W in Paris and Singapore.

The sleek interior of the presidential suite. Image by Gran Hotel Inglés

Rockwell drew inspiration from the hotel’s golden years of the 1920s with his remodelling process and the hotel is an ode to Art Deco style in shades of burnt orange, teal and silver. The lobby’s 20 foot-high ceiling glows with chandeliers, and vintage postcards of Madrid, which were discovered during the renovation, are on display in glass cases. To allow for more spacious accommodation, the number of rooms has been reduced from 72 to 48 (43 rooms and five suites). Each one is equipped with luxury details such as 500 thread Egyptian cotton sheets, L’Occitane toiletries, original artworks and a minibar complete with speciality products.

The restaurant’s menu is a celebration of local cuisine. Image by Gran Hotel Inglés

The hotel’s restaurant, Lobo 8, is open to the public and guests. With a nod to local cuisine, renowned chef Willy Moya’s menu is a mix of traditional tapas and specialities such as calamari sandwiches, Ibérico pork cheeks cooked in sherry and braised bull-tail stew. LobByto bar is a nice spot to unwind with a beer, wine or cocktail, while the curated library is stocked with over 600 titles and inviting leather chairs. The Égoïste spa by Manuel de la Garza offers a wide range of treatments using Anne Semonin products, including the Jet Lag Cure which involves a facial with cryotherapy ice cubes and a massage.

The design of the hotel’s bar is a nod to the roaring 20’s. Image by Gran Hotel Inglés

The hotel stakes a prime spot on Echegaray Street in Barrio de las Letras (Madrid’s literary quarter). It’s just across the street from La Venencia, reportedly Hemingway’s favourite sherry bar in the city, and is just a five-minute walk from Puerta del Sol – one of Madrid’s liveliest public squares.

Double rooms start at €284 (£248/US$329) in low season; and €384 (£335/US$445) in high season. For more information, see here.