Occupying half of a city block in Madrid’s posh Salamanca district, Hotel Wellington is an iconic, stately property founded by a bullfighting bigwig in the mid-1900s. Its guest list has included such luminaries and celebrities as Ernest Hemingway, Gene Kelly, the Dukes of Wellington, and (more recently) Matt Damon and Adrien Brody. Though the hotel enjoys a long-standing reputation for Old World grandeur, it should beware of resting on its laurels; dated furniture and the auspicious lack of certain in-room amenities may have some travelers scratching their heads about the cinco estrellas the property likes to flaunt.
Pets are bienvenidos!
With wall-to-wall carpeting, heavy velvet curtains, and satin-upholstered headboards, rooms feel very Vegas-circa-2000. But we have to admit, all that soft fabric, paired with the ultra-comfortable mattresses and soft linens, makes for a pleasant night’s sleep. Daily turndown, 24-hour room service, and HDTVs are further comforts. If you book a superior-grade room with “Wellington Club” in its name, you can access a “secret” seventh-floor lounge stocked with hors d’oeuvres and champagne—a concept that may have been chic in decades past but today just smacks of snobbery.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Though surprising for a hotel of this caliber, most rooms don’t feature coffee makers or tea kettles.
Bathrooms feel opulent with their buffed-marble walls, his-and-her sinks, and bountiful toiletries, and you will too when you don the embossed bathrobes and complimentary slippers.
Serviceable and traditional (think chandeliers, scarlet carpeting, and wing chairs), the lobby at Hotel Wellington is a fine spot for a coffee or some light reading before heading out for the day.
An unconventional perk: Front-desk staff can arrange picnics in the nearby Retiro Park complete with twee wooden bicycles and individualized menus.
One of the hotel’s main draws, its outdoor pool is a veritable oasis in the center of bustling Madrid. Unfortunately it turns into a mob scene on hot days, which means most guests end up roughing it sans chaise-longue or ponying up €150 for a reserved sunbed.
The 800-square-meter Le Max Wellness Club Wellington & SPA by Clarins is a temple of relaxation complete with whirlpools, ice fountains, saunas, and steam rooms. Personalized facial and body treatments can be booked in advance.
This well-outfitted facility will meet all your basic gym needs, but its 10am opening time will leave early-bird exercisers shaking their heads.
Housing one of Madrid’s best (and most expensive) Japanese restaurants, the Michelin-starred Kabuki Wellington’s menu is filled with colorful, theatrically presented dishes notable for their freshness and quality of ingredients. Travelers who fancy a more casual dining experience should book a table at Las Raíces, the hotel’s indoor-outdoor restaurant whose cuisine hinges on produce picked from the sprawling rooftop garden.
All dark woods, plush leather, and gilded accents, Bar Inglés is a gentlemanly place to indulge in a martini or two before heading out on the town.
Slightly removed from the main tourist attractions, Hotel Wellington is situated in a true-blue Madrileño neighborhood lined with boutiques and family-run restaurants. Thus, the metro at Retiro (Line 2) and Velázquez (Line 4) will come in handy for sightseeing.
The Salamanca district boasts two of the best spots in town for tortilla de patata, Spanish potato omelette: Casa Dani (8-minute walk), a grandpa bar tucked in the back corner of Mercado de la Paz, and Estay (11-minute walk), a stylish restaurant that doubles as a café before noon. After sundown, embark on a tapas crawl through the neighborhood, hitting Restaurante Amazónico (tiki cocktails and finger food), Cinco Jotas (premium jamón ibérico), and Ultramarinos Quintín (rawbar and flatbreads), all located within eight minutes from the hotel on foot.
The quiet streets surrounding the hotel belie a number of exciting nightlife venues. There’s Ten con Ten (12-minute walk), the swanky “gin bar” that incited the gin tónic frenzy a decade ago that hasn’t abated since. After a cocktail there, make your way to Arts Club (15-minute walk), a buzzy bar and discoteca that heats up on the weekends with international DJ sets.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Hotel Wellington Madrid is a bastion of old-school Spanish hospitality and one of the city’s classic see-and-be-seen spots. Though millennials might wonder where the Bluetooth speakers, Nespresso machines, and pillow menus are, more traditional travelers will find most of their expectations met by this well-oiled machine of a property.