In September this year, a big event took place in Madrid: the reopening of one of the city’s most revered and glamorous hotels, the Gran Hotel Inglés, initially launched in 1886.

Today, the establishment is being run by the prestigious Hidden Away Hotels group and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World – a feat that seems almost logical, since luxury abounds at every corner of this hotel.

The Gran Hotel Inglés is expansive in spirit but boutique in essence, housing just 48 rooms and enticing Madrid’s finest with a modern cocktail bar and trendy restaurant, as well as the City’s first ‘auteur spa’. The interiors, designed by American whiz David Rockwell (of the Ritz-Carlton in Boston and the W Hotels in Paris and Singapore), bear a glamorous 1920s Art Deco look, with rich colours, bold geometry, and incredible detail in the furniture and artwork.

A Hotel with History and Soul

The original Hotel was launched in the late 19th century by Agustín Ibarra, then-owner of the modernist English Café. The Gran Hotel Inglés was the first luxury hotel in Madrid and the second building in the city to have electric lighting. In its heyday, it attracted illustrious celebrities including Henri Matisse, Virginia Woolf, and Carlos Gardel. One of its most famous events was a banquet held in 1894 in honour of Filipino painters Juan Luna and Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, during which Filipino national hero, José Rizal, gave the speech that laid the groundwork for Filipino independence from the Spanish.

Comfort and Style

The rooms at this Hotel measure (on average) 30m2 and boast bathrooms with ‘giant showers’, spacious wardrobes, and large comfortable beds. All rooms have a bathtub and beds are graced with 500-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Guests can look forward to a host of little luxuries, including a pillow menu, cutting-edge mattresses, double-curl towels and bathrobes, L’Occitane amenities, smart TV, free Internet and calls, absolute soundproofing and a well-stocked mini-bar with Madrid-made craft beer, healthy juices, and even stevia-sweetened Coke. The rooms are decorated with old prints of the City, a fine way to pay homage to the Hotel’s lengthy past.

Those wishing for more ample accommodation can stay at one of six suites, the most appealing of which is arguably the Meller (in honour of the famous singer known for her rebellious ways). This suite contains a terrace with a Jacuzzi. Also impressive is the Royal Suite, measuring 125m2 and boasting several rooms, sloping ceilings, and beautiful views of the rooftops of the Las Letras neighbourhood.

Places to Gather

The street-level restaurant, Lobo 8, is poised to become one of Madrid’s hottest. It serves traditional cuisine with a twist. The Hotel calls it ‘cult cuisine’, since it arises from the idea that cuisine is culture. The Chefs seek to reinvent traditional dishes by “creating a parallel universe.” Starters include the almond white gazpacho with a prickly pear sorbet, smoked sardine and pork trotters, while the mains include a juicy grilled sirloin steak with roast marrow sauce, glazed shallots, and mushroom magret. The most stunning décor is to be found, meanwhile, in LobByto – the lobby bar, designed by the Rockwell group and transporting you to the pinnacle of the 1920s and 1930s. This bar serves excellent wines and Champagnes, as well as a menu featuring homemade, traditional dishes which are perfect for sharing.

Treat Yourself

The spa, called Egoïste and featuring bespoke tratements, is managed by the winner of six prizes at the World Luxury Spa Awards, Manuel de la Garza. Close by is the gym, fitted with cutting-edge equipment, and two events spaces for private parties and business gatherings.

Interesting Anecdotes: Did You Know that…

When the Gran Hotel Inglés was launched in 1886, there were just a few other top standard hotels in Madrid: the Hotel de la Paix in the Puerta del Sol, the Hotel de Rusia, Embajadores, La Fontana de Oro, and the Hotel París?

In the early 20th century, the Hotel’s current suites were once home to painters and construction workers, who kept the Hotel in tip-top condition by performing all repairs themselves.

In its early days, the Gran Hotel Inglés would entice its guests with irresistible offers. In 1929, a stay for a night cost just seven pesetas!

During the Civil War, the Hotel was used as a hospital for the wounded.

Many celebrities have slept at the Gran Inglés, including British writer Virginia Woolf. In the year 2008, the City of Madrid paid homage to the Gran Hotel Inglés. The commemorative plaque stated that the Hotel had been launched in 1853 – a mistaken date which actually corresponded to the year the Hotel was built.