Hidden away on a leafy residential street not far from Plaza Colón and the gallery-lined Chueca district, this elegant 1886 townhouse boasts every comfort of larger five-star Madrid hotels—sans the stuffy corporate vibes. Originally a residence of the literary and aristocratic Gómez-Acebo family, the building now belongs to a well-to-do family whose genteel tastes can be felt in the colorful flower arrangements in the lobby, antique furniture (purchased from rundown French and English castles), and collection of Loewe silk foulards framed and displayed in the rooms.
The 32 rooms, decorated in cream and ochre tones, could double as a Downton Abbey set with their satiny wallpaper, cabriole-legged furniture, and heavy patterned curtains. Keys come on tasseled keychains, and fine-threaded pillowcases are embossed with Orfila's logo. Upgraded rooms feature balconies (garlanded with tinsel come holiday season) as well as whirlpool tubs and sound systems.
Every inch of these bathrooms gleams with polished metal and buffed marble. You'll feel like a million bucks donning the soft bathrobes monogrammed with gold thread.
The ornate, gold-laden lobby resembles the entryway of a sumptuous 19th-century mansion because, well, it is. Extravagant fresh flower arrangements and restored Victorian furniture are gorgeous—and likely to make you feel perennially underdressed. A variety of domestic and international newspapers are available for the taking.
Though there's no pool on the premises, determined swimmers can take a 7-minute taxi to Hotel Miguel Ángel, whose pool is available to Orfila guests.
The hotel has an agreement with a local gym, which guests can use for a fee.
Orfila's Garden is a refined (if somewhat overpriced) restaurant whose main draw is its restful garden (usually open April–October), superb for summer dining.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Beware of the disingenuous "Three Michelin Star" meals advertised on the hotel's website; sure, certain seasonal menus are the fruits of the collaboration between chefs holding one and two Michelin stars, but that does not make Orfila's Garden a three-Michelin-star establishment.
Hotel Orfila is within walking distance from many of Madrid's top attractions, but for adventures further afield, hop on the metro at Alonso Martínez (Lines 4, 5, and 10).
The newly renovated Mercado Barceló (8-minute walk) is worth a visit, if only to ogle at the artful displays of pristine produce and splurge on some top-quality charcutería. After you’ve whet your appetite, head to the top-floor stalls for a tapa... or ten. For a more substantial meal, book a table at Casa Hortensia (11-minute walk), Madrid’s premier Asturian restaurant featuring specialties of the northerly region like fabada, a meaty, soul-warming bean stew, or at Café Comercial (11-minute walk), a landmark restaurant whose Instagrammable menu combines Spanish nueva cocina and old-school standbys.
Madrid’s most innovative coctelería, Macera TallerBar, is a five-minute walk away. There, you’ll find cocktails blended with house-macerated spirits such as cilantro-and-jalapeño-infused tequila (in a margarita, it’s a revelation) and cherry-and-almond-infused whiskey (you’ve never had a Manhattan like this before). Alternatively, get a taste of the vibrant gay nightlife that the neighborhood is known for at Cazador (10-minute drive), a laid-back hipster bar, or go all out at Boite (16-minute metro), a fashiony discoteca that rages until 6 a.m.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Against all odds, Hotel Orfila has endured as a bastion of erstwhile Spanish hospitality. As Madrid's other grand old hotels undergo shoddy renovations and jump on cheap fads, Orfila hasn't tried keeping up with the Joneses—and it's better for it. Sure, the décor is twee and overaffected, and we miss certain modern amenities (a gym would be nice, ahem!), but we'll take romance and grandeur over the vagaries of hotel trends any day.