Finally making its debut this week is the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid – a no-expense-spared reopening of a world classic. Following a three-year renovation of the hotel, we asked general manager Greg Liddell for his best bits and top tips around the hotel and the city.
Q: What is your favourite suite, or the top one that you’d recommend?
A: We have 53 suites and each one has a special detail that I like. For instance, the new Ritz or Mandarin Suites have a private balcony with amazing views either to Museo del Prado or Plaza de la Lealtad. Then there are the Turret suites, which have a natural mica ceiling in the living room; mica is a natural mineral that reflects the light creating a unique glowing effect.
But my overall favourite has to be the Royal suite, located in the same place where Cesar Ritz originally conceived it. It has hosted celebrities, royalty… In fact, it was Yves Saint Laurent’s favourite suite. He used to say he felt “at home” in this place.
Nowadays, it hosts a beautiful art collection including the unique hand-painted bedroom ceiling mural by Madrid-based painter Laura Rios. It draws on the historical colour palette and stylistic spirit of the skies in Francisco de Goya’s series of paintings made for the Real Fabrica de Tapices. It’s a very special place.
Q: What are your favourite dishes or delicious things to try across the hotel’s restaurants?
A: It is really difficult to choose! Chef Quique Dacosta has created a gastronomic proposal with very different perspectives in each one of the outlets. Deessa, our gastronomic restaurant, was the blank canvas for Quique and it is a must to try when coming here. His starting point was “Mediterranean soul” and the determination to favour Madrid’s pantry and local produce but with a totally avant-garde slant.
Palm Court, however, has a more traditional approach. This is the venue where the famous afternoon tea will be served every day, in the original space conceived by Cesar Ritz but with the tradition redesigned for this new era by Quique.
I also really enjoy Pictura, our bar. The gallery of portraits by Paula Anta creates a very special ambience, with a museum-inspired wall behind the counter. In addition, Jesus Abia, our bartender, and Quique have made a special effort to create a ground-breaking concept they call “liquid cuisine”: a collection of cocktails created using culinary techniques, such as infusion or cooking at low temperatures, so that their ingredients retain a link with the “bites” that are designed to go with of them, achieving a perfect blend.
Q: What are the best things to see in Madrid?
A: There are so many special places to visit in Madrid. The cultural proposal is amazing and since the hotel is located in what’s known as the city’s Golden Triangle of Art, our guests will have the opportunity to visit the Prado Museum, Thyssen or Reina Sofia often. However, for a day trip away from the city, I especially enjoy Patones de Arriba, a tiny medieval town with amazing views and definitely worth a visit.
Q: Is there anything special or unique the hotel can organise for guests?
A: Absolutely – and I like to say that exclusive experiences are our expertise! I very much like our collaboration with Vega Sicilia, the famous winery. It was born in 1982 and from that year it became one the most prestigious in the world. Indeed, it is synonymous with excellency, located in the Ribera del Duero area. Our team can arrange an unforgettable day trip including a lunch and wine tasting.
Also, we have designed a special program with Teatro Real, presenting an exclusive and personalised guided tour of the historic Madrid Opera House. Guests will be able to discover all the hidden secrets behind the scenes, while also attending official rehearsals for a choir or orchestra, which will be an amazing experience.
Q: And finally – what are your top tips on how to be a real Madrileño?
A: Well, you need to know that a typical Sunday for Madrileños includes Vermú Time – having a Vermouth aperitif outside or enjoying Chocolate & Churros as we say: hot chocolate with churros, which is such a typical local treat. The garden at the hotel has a magical atmosphere of elegance and history to enjoy both; it’s the perfect oasis in the heart of the capital.
Originally built by King Alfonso XIII in 1910 to host royalty and high society, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid – as it is now – has been favoured by the glitterati and European royalty over many years.
Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz and the French designer duo Gilles & Boissier collaborated closely on the spectacular new design and range of facilities to ensure they appeal to both local and international guests, while preserving the striking Belle Epoque character of the original building, and in keeping with the original spirit conceived by Cesar Ritz.
The hotel opens 15 April, with 153 rooms, including 53 suites, and chef Quique Dacosta will oversee five dining outlets, including the Palm Court under the hotel’s famed glass cupola. This stunning feature has been hidden for 80 years – this marks its “big reveal’ after all this time.
Completely new at the hotel is a leisure and wellness facility, including a heated indoor pool, a vitality pool, experience showers, steam room and a contemporary fitness centre.
Ballroom and function spaces have large windows facing the Prado Museum and have also been restored and designed now to offer options for weddings, private dinners and parties.