The Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid is the perfect place for a post-pandemic splurge: opulent, glamorous and indulgent – just what clients need after being cooped up at home. Oliver Broad, of RB Collection, checks in to find out more.
This landmark building in Spain’s capital was originally opened in 1910 after King Alfonso VIII decided he wanted to replicate the original Hotel Ritz in Paris, and did so under the supervision of none other than Cesar Ritz himself.
The hotel closed in 2018 for a €99-million rebuild, with work continuing throughout the pandemic and the doors finally re-opening in April.
Together with designers Gilles & Boissier and three-star Michelin chef Quique Dacosta, architect Rafael de La-Hoz’s task was to respect the hotel’s history while modernising the building and facilities to create experiences that will hook a new generation of travellers.
On arrival through huge iron doors with the hotel’s insignia in lavish gold, I entered a spacious lobby with a hanging garden sculpture made of brass and nickel by London-based Spanish company Haberdashery. Taking inspiration from the nearby Buen Retiro Park, it reflects Madrid’s heritage and provides an immediate wow factor.
Natural light floods into the Palm Court, the main hub of the hotel, which now has its famous glass ceiling back in its rightful place after years of previously being filled in. Whitewashed walls with gold trim blend with marble-top tables, floral patterned furnishings and a selection of art curated by Visto.
The hotel’s 167 guest rooms have street, Ritz Garden or interior Palm Court views, and vary in shape and size, but all are silent sanctuaries away from the buzzing city outside; the decor is classy, not fussy, with leather headboards, four-poster beds, wooden floors and lots of natural light.
For those wanting more space, I would suggest a Junior Suite or a Palm Court Suite, one of which I checked into. All bathrooms are elegant, and one evening our bathtub was even filled with steaming hot water and adorned with white rose petals when we returned from dinner, which was a thoughtful touch.
At the top of the range, the Royal Suite comes with its own ceiling cloud mural, views of the Ritz Garden and Prado Museum, and has its own living and dining room, pantry, private study and master bedroom with dressing room.
The basement spa is a new addition to the hotel with an indoor pool, large gym and treatment rooms, where a 75-minute facial ensured I was left fresh-faced for dinner on another evening.
Locals have used the Ritz for years as a meeting point, and long may that continue, as the hotel’s design enables contrasting F&B experiences to be enjoyed in four different areas.
The Palm Court is the focal point for breakfast and lunch, while a local twist is given to the famous afternoon tea inspired by that of sister hotel, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; the crab-filled eclair was divine and added a quirky take on classic British tearoom delights.
Quique Dacosta’s experiential take on dining is highlighted in Pictura, where his unique Liquid Cuisine concept both challenges and excites the taste buds by pairing new cocktails with innovative bites for an explosive and fun culinary quest.
Here, portraits by Paula Anta pay homage to Spain’s top artists, and the colour scheme is moody and warm using dark woods and metallic materials, while pink and white peonies add bursts of colour.
Outside, the famous Ritz Garden is the table in town to bag for a Saturday afternoon. The menu offers its own take on popular tapas, with a firm nod to Mandarin’s Asian heritage, such as Kim Chi Chicken Satay and Thai Seabass Ceviche.
Veggie tacos and cauliflower curry kept the non-meat eater at our table happy, while the extensive cocktail menu seemed to be keeping all guests content during their lazy afternoon get-togethers.
Finally, chef Dacosta’s signature restaurant is Deessa, where he pulls out all the stops with two extensive tasting menus available for lunch and dinner.
With a legacy such as this comes a multitude of challenges – not to mention what the team must all have gone through to complete such a renovation during a pandemic. But under the expert guide of Mandarin Oriental, this historic hotel is once again a high-quality option, matched with innovative guest experiences and unique design elements that will no doubt ensure the property’s appeal for many more years to come.
Our thanks to Oliver Broad, joint managing director of luxury agency RB Collection, who was able to travel to the hotel from his home in Barcelona to see the hotel when it first launched.