When the first thing you see in a five-star hotel lobby is a giant statue of a stripy bear, you know you’re staying somewhere a little different.
Opened in January, Barceló Torre de Madrid is at the end of the city’s iconic Gran Via shopping and theatre street, and so close to the Royal Palace you can see it from some of the bedrooms. Even the building itself is a bit of an icon — it was the tallest in Spain until 1982.
The hotel interiors were designed by renowned Spanish designer Jaime Hayon and, while undoubtedly modern, take their influence from traditional Spanish culture. Large mirrors (both in rooms and public areas) include faces which, if you look closely, could be seen as a flamenco dancer or a matador.
Design-wise, the more you look, the more you see. On the ground floor lobby and bar there are large paintings of the feet and legs of the same figures, while the “top half” of the paintings can be found in the second-floor lounge. Dotted around are coloured sofas, along with several examples of the designer’s famous ‘monkey table’, the monkey itself acting as the table’s base.
There’s a wellness area on the 8th floor with a swimming pool, sauna, gym, three treatment rooms and sundeck, however, except on Sundays, there’s an entrance fee of 20 Euros (around £17).
The glass-walled restaurant on the second floor is a little soulless and serves a cut-down version of the menu at hotel’s more atmospheric sister restaurant Random, a 10-minute taxi-ride away. Dishes are Spanish with a twist and include plenty of fish options although little that’s vegetarian.
Breakfast, however, is spectacular and includes plenty of healthy options such as smoothies with the option to add your own extras including chia seeds, beautifully-presented yoghurt “sundaes” as well as the usual patisserie options, cheeses and — as you’d expect from a Spanish chain — churros and chocolate.
There’s also a bar downstairs with very reasonably-priced cocktails on offer and a backlit column of bottles at its centre.
With its 258 generously-sized rooms and suites, Barcelo Torre de Madrid isn’t one for those who like their hotels small and intimate. The rooms are simple — even a little plain for some tastes — with huge mirrors above the beds and large windows, many of them with views of the Royal Palace and/or the Gran Via.
The white-linened beds are vast with enormous pillows and splashes of colour provided by cushions and runners. All rooms are incredibly well-connected with whizzy WiFi, plenty of sockets and USB ports and Bluetooth music systems — plus you can connect your laptop to the 42-inch TV.
The carefully-designed black and white marble bathrooms have either showers or baths and are stocked with particularly sumptuous towels and a few additional toiletries you might not expect, such as a body scrub. The décor is all perfectly tied together — the black and white zigzags in the shower mirroring the stripes on the bear downstairs, the symbol of Madrid — as well as little bears on the towels and dressing gowns and so on.
It’s luxurious, but without any fuss.