JC Stays: Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

The regal grande dame of Madrid’s hotel scene has a luxurious new lease of life


Built over a century ago to bring Madrid up to par with the grand hotels of other European cities, today’s Mandarin Oriental Ritz — an eye-popping restoration of one of the world’s three original Ritz Hotels — aims to live up to its heritage by treating every guest like royalty.

Which is only what you’d expect from a hotel commissioned by Spain’s King Adolfo XIII to house other crowned heads in luxury, and slept in by everyone from the Emperor of Japan to Cary Grant and other Hollywood royalty during its heyday.

While it never lost its cachet, the hotel had run down from its golden age glory days before the current owners bought it and instigated a 115 million dollar pre-pandemic refurbishment.

The results are breathtaking: a return to belle époque splendour for all the original public areas, discreet mod cons ensuring guest rooms fit for the 21st century, the addition of the spa and swimming pool it lacked, and a new Michelin-starred restaurant.

Fabulous service enfolds you the minute you step through the impressive but discreet wrought iron entrance on a quiet crescent close to the Paseo del Prado, the beautiful pedestrianised park connecting Madrid’s major art museums.

Elegance reigns supreme with more curlicued, gleaming white infrastructure than the most elaborate wedding cake plus gilding galore, notably in the leaf sculpture suspended over the reception area.

It’s not the only wow factor; a huge crystal cupola designed by Cesar Ritz but “lost” (ie covered over for 80 years), has been meticulously restored and is the glory of the Palm Court restaurant beyond.

The understated luxury of neutral-toned bedrooms offers some respite from the razzle-dazzle of the public spaces, though inevitably bathrooms are an explosion of white marble and Dolomite stone with gold fixtures, featuring rainfall showers as well as tubs.

The hotel has an unusual proportion of suites — 53 of them compared to 100 rooms — and ours offered the comfort of a separate small sitting room in which to unwind with a large screen TV. We could doubtless have been served Friday night dinner with candles here, given that the hotel has a Danish-Israeli duty manager who asked if there was anything special he could get us in for Shabbat.

In the event we dined at Deessa, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant where chef Quique Dacosta is on a mission to prove he can serve fare every bit as innovative as that which made Barcelona famous. The tasting menu is already rich in fish and vegetable courses, but can be tweaked to accommodate observant diners who advise restrictions in advance.

More traditional dishes are served in the Palm Court, whose La Noria breakfast area comes into its own every morning when local society types breeze in for the “second breakfast” that Madrilenos sit down to socialise over around 11am.

Even more popular is the outside restaurant, which is packed day and night. A garden is a rarity for a Madrid hotel, and the Ritz terrace, which serves modern fare, attracts the young and trendy.

Alfonso might not have approved of their casual attire and high spirits but the youthful buzz has helped bring this formerly fading grande dame of Madrid a new lease of life.


Rooms at the Mandarin Oriental Ritz cost from around £550 per night.

Kirker offers a three-night package including flights, private airport transfers, three nights B&B and museum entry fees from £2,349.

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