BARCELO TORRE DE

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

WHEN THE first thing you see in a five-star ho­tel lobby is a gi­ant statue of a stripy bear, you know you’re stay­ing some­where a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

Opened in Jan­uary, Barceló Torre de Madrid is at the end of the city’s iconic Gran Via shop­ping and theatre street, and so close to the Royal Palace you can see it from some of the bed­rooms. Even the build­ing it­self is a bit of an icon — it was the tallest in Spain un­til 1982.

The ho­tel in­te­ri­ors were de­signed by renowned Span­ish de­signer Jaime Hayon and, while un­doubt­edly mod­ern, take their in­flu­ence from tra­di­tional Span­ish cul­ture. Large mir­rors (both in rooms and pub­lic ar­eas) in­clude faces which, if you look closely, could be seen as a fla­menco dancer or a mata­dor.

De­sign-wise, the more you look, the more you see. On the ground floor lobby and bar there are large paint­ings of the feet and legs of the same fig­ures, while the “top half” of the paint­ings can be found in the sec­ond-floor lounge. Dot­ted around are coloured so­fas, along with sev­eral ex­am­ples of the de­signer’s fa­mous ‘mon­key ta­ble’, the mon­key it­self act­ing as the ta­ble’s base.

There’s a well­ness area on the 8th floor with a swim­ming pool, sauna, gym, three treat­ment rooms and sun­deck, how­ever, ex­cept on Sun­days, there’s an en­trance fee of 20 Euros (around £17).

The glass-walled restau­rant on the sec­ond floor is a lit­tle soul­less and serves a cut-down ver­sion of the menu at ho­tel’s more at­mo­spheric sis­ter restau­rant Ran­dom, a 10-minute taxi-ride away. Dishes are Span­ish with a twist and in­clude plenty of fish op­tions although lit­tle that’s veg­e­tar­ian.

Break­fast, how­ever, is spec­tac­u­lar and in­cludes plenty of healthy op­tions such as smooth­ies with the op­tion to add your own ex­tras in­clud­ing chia seeds, beau­ti­fully-pre­sented yo­ghurt “sun­daes” as well as the usual patis­serie op­tions, cheeses and — as you’d ex­pect from a Span­ish chain — chur­ros and choco­late.

There’s also a bar down­stairs with very rea­son­ably-priced cock­tails on of­fer and a back­lit col­umn of bot­tles at its cen­tre.

With its 258 gen­er­ously-sized rooms and suites, Barcelo Torre de Madrid isn’t one for those who like their ho­tels small and in­ti­mate. The rooms are sim­ple — even a lit­tle plain for some tastes — with huge mir­rors above the beds and large win­dows, many of them with views of the Royal Palace and/or the Gran Via.

The white-linened beds are vast with enor­mous pil­lows and splashes of colour pro­vided by cush­ions and run­ners. All rooms are in­cred­i­bly well-con­nected with whizzy WiFi, plenty of sock­ets and USB ports and Blue­tooth mu­sic sys­tems — plus you can con­nect your lap­top to the 42-inch TV.

The care­fully-de­signed black and white mar­ble bath­rooms have ei­ther show­ers or baths and are stocked with par­tic­u­larly sump­tu­ous tow­els and a few ad­di­tional toi­letries you might not ex­pect, such as a body scrub. The dé­cor is all per­fectly tied to­gether — the black and white zigzags in the shower mir­ror­ing the stripes on the bear down­stairs, the sym­bol of Madrid — as well as lit­tle bears on the tow­els and dressing gowns and so on.

It’s lux­u­ri­ous, but with­out any fuss.

RATES: Rates: Dou­ble rooms from around £250 per night, based on two shar­ing room only. www.barcelo.com

CATHER­INE COOPER

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