Tucked away in a narrow side street in ‘Barrio de las Letras’, the city’s previous literary quarter with a history of famous writer residents dating back to the 17th century, the Gran Hotel Ingles is a real gem of a boutique five-star hotel full of old-world charm.
The property’s claim to fame is being the oldest luxury hotel in Madrid, but following a $20 million USD investment by the Rockwell Group, the building was recently updated with a full but sympathetic refurb reminiscent of the glamorous years of the 1920s. The resulting design retains the hotel’s classic bohemian charm, whilst giving it a contemporary sophisticated air. From the moment we walked in through the doors we were greeted with the sight of the impressive LobByto cocktail bar. A sure indication that this place is definitely all about the good life, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture Federico García Lorca and Earnest Hemingway sitting here, sharing a cocktail.
Check-in was an informal affair suited to the bohemian history of the hotel: we were offered a drink on arrival but opted for a coffee in our first floor ‘preferential’ room instead, as our early morning flight from London had taken its toll. We drank it leaning over the Juliette balcony which overlooked a quiet street and nibbled on some of the Spanish sweet treats from the triple-tiered platter which had been left as a welcome gift alongside a chilled bottle of champagne set out on a table beside.
A rolltop freestanding bath sat at the end of a kingsized bed dressed in crisp white bedding. The room had a clean and contemporary design with accents that hinted toward art deco – we especially liked the padded leather wall panels, although the mix of David Rockwell-designed bronze and glass furniture also provided an indisputable quality and luxury.
The hotel is best known to locals for its restaurant Casa Lobo, named after the apparently terrifying stuffed Wolf that the previous tenant, a taxidermist, famously had in the window. We enjoyed both breakfast and dinner here and both were first class. However it’s worth noting that Casa Lobo is closed during the summer months, so gastronauts are best to plan their visit in the cooler months, which considering the heat Madrid experiences in the summer is the best policy all year round.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
Being situated in the heart of Madrid you can literally throw a stone from the Gran Hotel Inglés and find something worthwhile to do. But due to its proximity to the so-called ‘Golden Triangle of Art’ made up of the city’s most prominent art institutions, we suggest you start at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia which features a vast array of 20th-century art with Picasso’s Guernica as its crowning glory, then visit the Museo del Prado en route to the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. The combination of the three gives you about as thorough an experience of fine art as is possible to get and all within a few easily navigated kilometres.