Unapologetically opulent, the Hotel Ritz is Madrid’s last bastion of old-school Continental luxury. Shimmering chandeliers, carved-mahogany accents, and handwoven carpets go to show that this hotel is unbothered by the latest hospitality trends. Guests here are treated like royalty—no coincidence, given the hotel’s reputation for hosting dignitaries and celebrities in the hundred-plus years it’s been in business. Spacious rooms, fabulous breakfasts, a storied past, and an unbeatable location within Madrid’s “Golden Triangle” of art make the Ritz one of Madrid’s most standout hotels.
Make no mistake, there’s nothing ironic about the hotel rooms’ full-on Victorian aesthetic; this is the real deal, not some millennial designer’s idea of a throwback. But those who surrender to the fin-de-siècle charm are rewarded with canopy beds, original oil paintings, cushy velvet slippers, and fresh fruit platters (in some rooms).
YOU SHOULD KNOW Modern perks we’ve come to expect from luxury hotels (e.g., in-room speakers, multiple bedside outlets, smart TVs, and charging ports) are conspicuously absent.
Outfitted with gray marble and gilded fixtures, the bathrooms are certainly sophisticated, even if they lack the deep-soak bathtubs that one might hope for in a property of this caliber.
With its soaring ceilings and stately décor, stepping into the lobby at the Ritz is like entering a palace. It’s a pleasant place to savor a coffee or glass of cava (Spanish sparkling wine), though you won’t want to linger--the straight-backed, wooden-armed sofas are no more comfortable here than they were in your grandmother’s living room.
The check-in desk is located inside a small room to the left of the main entrance. The line to your right is for the concierge.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more romantic outdoor terrace in Madrid than that of Goya Restaurant, with its trickling fountains, twinkly lights, and live piano jazz. The formal décor belies an inventive, appetizing menu with particularly excellent seafood selections. Breakfasts are more traditional but equally lavish with ibérico ham, hot churros, fresh-squeezed juices, and a range of savory dishes.
The appetizer of red shrimp carpaccio, briny and unctuous, is well-worth the splurge.
It’s less than a 10-minute walk to most of Madrid’s top attractions, but for excursions further afield, there are metro stations close by at Sevilla (line 2), Antón Martín (line 1), and Atocha (line 1).
Venture outside the neighborhood for most of your meals—the hotel is surrounded by mediocre restaurants that cater to the tourbus crowd. Taking a taxi to the nearby Salamanca district is a good idea; there, you can have a sit-down meal that oozes old-school Spanish elegance at El Paraguas, or, alternatively, embark on a tapas crawl, hitting Babelia (cocktails and finger food), Cinco Jotas (premium jamón ibérico), and Ultramarinos Quintín (rawbar and flatbreads).
Pop into one of Hemingway’s old haunts called La Venencia, a sherry-only bar that hasn’t changed a lick since the Spanish Civil War, from its no-tipping policy, to its salty waiters, to its chalked bar tabs. Follow your aperitivo with an exhilarating flamenco performance down the road at Cardamomo Tablao (buy tickets to the show in advance).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Most of Spain’s grand old hotels in existence today are in the throes of an identity crisis, succumbing to modernity with clumsy refurbishments and a marked decrease in quality. The Ritz, on the other hand, remains poised and self assured with few frayed edges. However, it's worth noting that the future of the hotel christened by King Alfonso XIII now lies in the hands of Olayan and Mandarin Oriental, the luxury hotel chains that recently bought the property. They have predicted €90 million in renovations, which are set to begin in early 2018 and will likely shut down the hotel for six months to a year.