Located where the upscale Chamberí, Tribunal, and Chueca neighborhoods intersect, the URSO Hotel & Spa is far enough off the beaten path in Madrid. The early 20th-century building, designed by Spanish architect José María Mendoza Ussía, displays clean lines and symmetry from the outside – calm, modern and full of grandeur. Inside, many of the original features remain from its early incarnation as the home of Papelera Española, Spain’s dominant paper company in the 20th century – the elevated central courtyard where one can now have breakfast, bathed in light and surrounded by walls of vibrant stained glass windows , decorative tiles and smooth marble.
The central staircase winds around a glamorous, traditional cage lift with double doors and seating for two. The muted palette of earth tones in the interiors, along with subtle prints and natural accents of plants and flowers, create a real sense of retreat despite the city location.
Rooms continue the muted color scheme and are decorated in soft tones of gray, light blue, and sea green. they have high ceilings, are airy and ultra-comfortable; huge beds with sumptuous, premium linens take center stage. Huge windows flood the rooms with the wonderful natural light of Madrid. Ours overlook stunning manicured gardens, while the top floor suites have their own private terrace from which to enjoy the view.
to eat and drink
Restaurant Media Racion (meaning half a serving – ask for it at any tapas bar if you want more, smaller dishes) is the lively version of legendary Madrid brasserie Cuenllas. It offers some of the best Spanish produce – Don Bocarte anchovies and Iberico Jamon, for example – and Madrid’s famous Callos Madrilenos, a tripe stew for the more adventurous eater.
Madrid is at the forefront of gastronomy. There’s something for everyone here – finding a local spot for a cana (a tiny beer) and a tapa is as little as looking left and right on a given street for tasty, reasonably priced and generous food . The city has no less than 21 Michelin-starred restaurants if you feel like letting off steam.
The hotel is well located for a leisurely stroll with lots of great tapas spots; Of particular note is the local hangout, Casa Toni – secure a seat at the counter; From the smallest kitchen imaginable comes a range of tapas classics – crispy, fresh calamari, grilled Secreto Iberico with Padron peppers (a thin, hidden piece of pork, served pink, from the famous Iberian pigs from which Jamon Iberico is made), platters of grilled wild mushrooms and huevos revueltos – fried potatoes with chorizo and cracked eggs. Don’t miss the salmorejo – a slightly heavier cousin of gazpacho.
Casa Juan is a fixture in Madrid. It’s huge, spanning four floors, with all the food coming from a madhouse kitchen (look to the left as you enter the restaurant). Its specialty is slow-roasted meat, but the chefs are also adept fryers — the deep-fried hake would make the best fish and chip shop envious, with a light and airy batter with flaky and perfectly cooked fish inside. It has a large selection of beef – but be warned, not all medium rares are created equal; Ask for it to be cooked a step further than usual. Reservations are a must for this Spanish family favorite – it’s great to feel like you’re somewhere where the locals eat, but it gets very busy.
Casa Labra, near Puerta Del Sol, is an institution; Opened in 1860, it was the birthplace of the Spanish Socialist Labor Party. Stop by to sip some of its rich history, a small glass of house red and indulge in some croquetas and a few pieces of fried cod.
What should I do
The URSO Spa is an oasis of muted tones, dark wood and a touch of daylight to lose yourself in for hours. The small but perfectly formed hydrotherapy pool, and the entire spa itself, is a lesson in using space well. A calming retreat from the outside streets, we had the place to ourselves on several occasions. A hammam was perfect for warming the bones during an unseasonably cold spell of weather. Due to Covid restrictions you must call ahead to book a spot.
The hotel is just a few minutes from the Alonso Martínez metro station. Madrid is easy to navigate and in pretty good shape by metro standards.
The town is home to one of the world’s finest art galleries, the Museo Nacional del Prado. It houses the works of many artists, but one of its most valuable works is that of Hieronymus Bosch The Garden of Delights, a triptych depicting man’s weakness in resisting earthly pleasures…we spent a while devouring its devilish details. Buy tickets online well in advance to avoid a short queue. Next door is the 125 hectare Retiro Park, a green oasis in the heart of the city – this and the Prado form a single UNESCO World Heritage Site and are a great way to spend half a day.
For those who want to shop but are looking for a more local experience, El Rastro Flea Market is the city’s largest and oldest open-air market and the best place to pick up a bargain – vintage leather goods, ceramics, art and housewares stand next to stalls serving hot food and bands playing live music.
price and booking
Rooms at the URSO Hotel & Spa Madrid start from €359 (about £300) per night on a room only basis. Book online at hotelurso.com
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/travel/94799/urso-hotel-spa-review-madrid-spain Luxury Hotel Rating: URSO Hotel & Spa, Madrid, Spain