ll about ME…

is the per­fect place to get lost in – and per­haps pile on a few pounds in the process

Friday - - TRAVEL -

T he first thing that hits you as you walk through the re­volv­ing front door of the ME Reina Vic­to­ria by Meliá ho­tels in the Span­ish cap­i­tal, Madrid – aside from the su­per-sleek so­phis­ti­cated style and friendly, flu­ent-in-English staff – is the smell.

Hold up, we’re not talk­ing tapas and tobacco here, but the group’s se­cre­tive sig­na­ture scent – a warm and light flo­ral blend based on hints of melon and cu­cum­ber. De­spite fer­vent guess­ing at the for­mula how­ever, no more in­gre­di­ents are dis­closed by ho­tel staff.

“Only one per­son has ever guessed the con­coc­tion cor­rectly,” the re­cep­tion­ist says, smil­ing, and that ac­co­lade goes to none other than pop su­per­star and for­mer guest, Ri­hanna.

As a ho­tel that prides it­self on be­ing at the epi­cen­tre for the so­cial elite and jet set, it’s no sur­prise that a lit­tle bit of celebrity name-drop­ping goes on, and I am soon in­formed that the likes of Ge­orge Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio are among the Hol­ly­wood A-list vis­i­tors.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if a stay co­in­cided?” I muse, off in a land far away where Ge­orge leans next to my suite’s Ne­spresso ma­chine ca­su­ally, cof­fee cup in hand, with the rooftops of the Span­ish cap­i­tal catch­ing the dy­ing sun’s rays be­hind him, his smile brighter than any­thing na­ture could con­ceive…

Dragged back from my reverie sud­denly by a re­cep­tion­ist show­ing me how to use the cof­fee ma­chine in drinks, and even a per­sonal event plan­ner ca­pa­ble of or­gan­is­ing, well, just about any­thing!

De­spite be­ing as ur­ban as ur­ban gets, with its strate­gic lo­ca­tion in the heart of this be­guil­ing city, the ME some­how of­fers guests both seren­ity and pri­vacy in the heart of this flam­boy­ant and lively cap­i­tal. So af­ter un­pack­ing, I’m des­per­ate to dis­cover the city’s cob­bled streets and tapas tav­er­nas.

Miriam, my lovely aura man­ager (a high-brow per­sonal but­ler) sug­gests din­ner at Mer­cado de la Reina, a 10-minute walk from the ho­tel, and la­belled as one of the best restaurants in the city.

Armed with a map, I head out into the warm spring air and nav­i­gate the labyrinthine streets of Bar­rio de las Le­tras past one invit­ingly ap­petis­ing restau­rant to the next.

As I was to dis­cover, good, flavour­ful food is yet an­other as­pect Madrid of­fers in abun­dance

my suite, I re­alise that, even with­out a cer­tain Mr Clooney, things are more than ad­e­quate.

I get the unique con­tem­po­rary Chic Suite, the end­less view of Madrid over­look­ing the charm­ing Plaza Santa Ana, the golden-hued sun­set and even the cof­fee… as they say; four out of five ain’t bad!

And be­cause I’m stay­ing in the suite, ev­ery­thing is taken care of thanks to an award-win­ning per­son­alised ser­vice. From in-suite check-in to the sound of my favourite pre­s­e­lected mu­sic, through to a retro re­frig­er­a­tor burst­ing with ice-cold

W hen travel guides say that the ME is the per­fect place to stay when vis­it­ing Madrid, they aren’t ex­ag­ger­at­ing – the ho­tel is a stone’s

… It also boasts a wealth of beau­ti­ful build­ings and squares, in­clud­ing the city hall, this pic­ture, and Plaza Mayor, left

TRAVEL

Madrid is great for shop­ping and plays host to 22 mu­se­ums and art gal­leries, in­clud­ing the Reina Sofía Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art, left…

The ME Reina Vic­to­ria is right in the heart of the city

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