Inspired by Paul Eluard's La Liberté, whose verses are written across the facade, the owners of this hotel granted an unlimited budget to 19 of the world's top architects and designers; the result is 12 hotels in one, with floors by the late Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, David Chipperfield, and others. You pick the floor of your choice at reception via iPad—most popular are the futuristic all-white layouts by Hadid, the elegant black wood and white leather proposal by Foster, and the imaginative re-creation of space by Ron Arad. There's also a well-regarded restaurant and two bars (one on the rooftop), which are all just as impressive in design. The only snag: you'll need a taxi or the subway to get to the city center.
Parking is free—a virtually unheard-of perk in Madrid.
When it comes to innovative, one-of-a-kind design, no hotel in Madrid can compete with Silken Puerta América. The property's round beds, illuminated ceiling art, and psychedelic layouts are striking enough to make the most seasoned architects gasp. But with such unbridled ingenuity come practical foibles such as elusive light switches and outlets, uncomfortable chairs, and rock-hard beds.
The Space Club Room by Zaha Hadid, arguably the most awe-inspiring space in the hotel with its undulating white walls, books far in advance.
Bathrooms are eye-catching with standout features like wooden bathtubs and Calacatta marble walls, though some guests complain about their design that puts form over function. In one room, there's no door to the toilet; in another, a chic-looking shower sprays water onto the floor. Toiletries are a bit sparse in entry-level accommodations, but suites add Loewe and Bulgari bath amenities.
Bathrobes are not provided in most rooms but are available upon request.
Designed by British architect John Pawson, the lobby is a curvy, minimalist space lined with blond-wood slats. Staff are professional if a tad stiff.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Those with a fear of heights might want to take the stairs, as the elevators are futuristic external-facing glass pods.
The candlelit pool and steam room area, geared toward relaxation as opposed to sport, is inviting and restful, though it fills up fast at peak times (morning and evening).
YOU SHOULD KNOW Inquire ahead to ensure these facilities will be functional for your stay; sporadic renovations and closures have left some guests disappointed in recent months.
Look elsewhere for quality spa treatments. The ones on offer are jury-rigged in-room operations that leave much to be desired.
The 13th-floor gym is a letdown with only a handful of machines squeezed into an airless space.
For pristine seafood served to the backdrop of panoramic views, head to The Observatory, a restaurant that also touts itself as having the largest vertical garden in Europe.
When the sun goes down, don't miss the swanky rooftop Skynight Lounge, a dimly lit aerie with synthy DJ music, whose clientele is a mix of locals and international hotel guests.
Located halfway between the airport and the city center, you'll be relying heavily on taxis and public transit. Hop on the metro at Cartagena (Line 7), or hail a cab outside the entrance. Note to flyers: The hotel's complimentary airport shuttle runs on such a limited schedule that it's often impractical.
Calle Ponzano, Madrid’s trendiest (and least touristy) tapas street, is a 15-minute metro ride from the hotel. Start your evening at Sala de Despiece, an ultramodern bar serving small plates derived from hand-selected local meats and vegetables, before making your way to Toque de Sal, a swanky bistro-style restaurant that treats ingredients like art.
Venture south to the Salamanca district for exciting nightlife. There’s Ten con Ten (11-minute taxi), the buttoned-up “gin bar” that incited Madrid's gin-tónic frenzy a decade ago that hasn’t abated since. After a cocktail there, make your way to Arts Club (7-minute taxi), a buzzy bar and discoteca that heats up on the weekends with international DJ sets.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Love it or hate it, Silken Puerta América is an architectural marvel, one whose roster of collaborators reads like a "who's who" of modern design. Though art savants will drool over the ultramodern spaces, the average tourist might find these digs uncozy and pretentious. The musician Moby found his 2016 stay at the hotel so uncomfortable, in fact, that he likened it to "sleeping in a dumpster." Sure, Silken Puerta América might not live up to its five-star rating when it comes to amenities and service, but thought-provoking décor ensures there's never a dull moment at this iconic property.