Fodor’s Choice Lodging: Barcelona and Madrid

070102_hotelbanner.jpg

AC Palacio del Retiro, Madrid
An early-20th-century restored palatial building owned by a noble family with extravagant habits, this spectacular hotel closely follows the Santo Mauro’s template: tasteful, modern décor in a historical building. Palacio preserves even more of its grandiose past: baseboards and fountains covered with ceramics from Talavera, original Parisian stained-glass windows, marble floors and columns, and original moldings. €€€€

AC Santo Mauro, Madrid
Once the Canadian embassy, this turn-of-the-20th-century mansion is now an intimate luxury hotel, an oasis of calm just a short walk from the city center. The neoclassical architecture is accented by contemporary furniture in white, gray, and black hues. Some of the rooms in the main building still maintain the original details and fixtures. The top-notch restaurant is in what used to be the mansion’s library. Views vary; request a room with a terrace overlooking the gardens. €€€€

Claris, Barcelona
Widely considered Barcelona’s best hotel, the Claris is a fascinating mélange of design and tradition. Rooms come in 60 different modern layouts, some with restored 18th-century English furniture and some with contemporary furnishings from Barcelona’s playful legion of lamp and chair designers. The restaurant, East 47, is exceptional. €€€€

Colón, Barcelona
Charming and intimate for such a sizable place. The hotel stands across the plaza from the cathedral, overlooking weekend Sardana dancing, Thursday antiques markets, and much else. Rooms are comfortable and tasteful; try to get one with a view of the cathedral. This might just be one of the best hotels in Barcelona. €€-€€€

Condes de Barcelona, Barcelona
Reserve well in advance — this is one of Barcelona’s most popular hotels, and early reservations score bargain rates. The pentagonal lobby has a marble floor and the original columns and courtyard from the 1891 building. The newest rooms have hot tubs and terraces overlooking interior gardens. An affiliated fitness club around the corner offers golf, squash, and swimming. €€€-€€€€

Duquesa de Cardona, Barcelona
This refurbished 16th-century town house overlooking the port has ultra-contemporary facilities with designer touches. The exterior rooms have views of the harbor, the World Trade Center, and the passenger boat terminals. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from everything in the Gothic Quarter or Barceloneta, and no more than a 30-minute walk from the main Eixample attractions. €€€-€€€€

Majestic, Barcelona
With an unbeatable location on Barcelona’s most stylish boulevard, surrounded by fashion emporiums of every denomination, the Majestic is a near-perfect place to stay. The building is part Eixample town house and part modern extension, but pastels and Mediterranean hues warm each room. €€€€

Orfila, Madrid
This elegant 1886 town house, hidden away in a leafy little residential street not far from Plaza Colón, has every comfort of a larger hotel, but more intimate, personalized surroundings. Originally the in-town residence of the literary and aristocratic Gomez-Acebo family, Orfila 6 was an address famous for theater performances in the late 19th- and early-20th centuries. €€€€

Hotel Intur Palacio San Martín, Madrid
In an unbeatable location across from one of Madrid’s most celebrated monuments (the Convent of Descalzas), this hotel, once the old U.S. embassy and later a luxurious residential building crowded with noblemen, still exudes a kind of glory. The entrance leads to a glass-dome atrium that serves as a tranquil sitting area. The hotel has preserved an antique elevator, and many of the ceilings are carved and ornate. €€€

Turó de Vilana, Barcelona
Surrounded by bougainvillea-festooned villas and mansions above Barcelona’s Passeig de la Bonanova, this shiny new penny has a hot tub in every room, immaculate and gleaming halls and public areas of stone, steel, and glass, and a pleasant staff. Rooms are luminous. In summer, upper Barcelona is noticeably cooler, not to mention quieter at night. €€- €€€

See Fodor’s Barcelona and Madrid for additional lodging information.