Spain Travel Guide
We've gone over the fact that space hotels in space aren't going to happen anytime soon, but what about space hotels on earth?
An agreement was signed recently with Mobilona LLC to manage the financing of a space hotel on Barcelona Island off the coast of Catalonia, Spain. Details are few and far between at this stage, but we will admit that what we're reading sounds pretty damn cool.
The proposed project will have about 2,000 rooms and residences, each equipped with "immersive wall and surface displays that provide panoramic impressions of the universe."
When we think of Spain, immediately thoughts of a sun-scorched land, sweet sangria, and tasty tapas come to mind. No doubt that we indulged in all of those a lot on a trip to the Iberian Peninsula, but once we walked into Hotel Tres on the Balearic Island of Mallorca Hotels, we knew we had arrived in paradise.
The hotel is tucked away down a cobblestone street behind an unassuming stone archway and an iron gate. In fact, we may not have been able to find it if we hadn't Google Mapped prior to arrival, but the hidden hotel was worth the search. After check-in we walked through a secluded courtyard and headed to our room, but the real jaw-dropper was the roof-top deck.
Break out the jugs of sangria! The very first Four Seasons will start taking reservations in one of Madrid's most historic and cultural areas, Puerta del Sol. The brand's first presence in Spain marks a milestone and pays respect to the city's history.
Spanning over 4 historic buildings, the newest luxury hotel will boast one of the most prestigious addresses in Madrid. Aside from 215 rooms, the location will not only offer guests a slice of the past, but feature high-end boutiques, trendy restaurants and luxury residences. So don't worry about the tapas fix, it should be just around the corner.
Construction is set to begin by the end of the year and will take the building's historic significance into careful consideration. During the revitalization, the facade will be cleaned and refreshed, still maintaining its presence over the center court ready to impress guests with its full rehab by 2014. Perhaps by then we won't need to a Four Seasons for recommendations and we can just book there.
[Photo: Four Seasons]
Finally we conclude our several-week-long dilemma of where to stay in Madrid for just one night, for a first timer to the city. After settling on the Hotel de Las Letras based on your strong recommendations, we checked in (right behind another couple who had also been on our same flight from Istanbul!) and hunkered down.
We booked the lowest room category for 112 Euros, but adding 20-30 more would've bumped us up to a category with an ornate balcony overlooking the Gran Via. As it was February with near freezing temperatures, this would have been a waste. One night's stay, when we expected to spend much of the time out at museums and restaurants, doesn't call for much.
Two weeks ago, we stepped down off our hotel know-it-all podium to ask for your help in selecting where we'd sleep in Madrid. Your tips and recommendations flooded in, mostly via social media, and gave us much to consider.
Alas, eventually the night arrived and we had to make a decision. Based on sheer volume of recommendations, we booked into the Hotel de Las Letras, right on the Gran Via and costing only 112 Euro for the night (not including breakfast, but including WiFi).
UPDATE! Thank you so much for your recommendations on Twitter and elsewhere. See where we stayed.
Okay frequent traveling friends and readers, here's your chance to help us have an awesome time Madrid, Spain. We need your best hotel recommendation for our upcoming trip, because we want to see the best Madrid has to offer, room-wise, for what will be this HotelChatter writer's first visit to the city.
We'll be in town for such a short period thanks to some flight itinerary weirdness, but luckily it's just enough time to enjoy the "Cliffs Notes version" of Madrid. Help a fellow hotel geek out and share where you think we should stay in the comments!
· A nightly rate of 200 Euros or less is ideal, but we could be flexible if WiFi & breakfast is included
· We don't care about getting points, so independent properties are very welcome
· Bonus for ease of getting to/from airport, though no airport hotels, please.
You'll then find out which hotel won out when we hit the city just over a week from now and share all the juicy details...
Meanwhile, in October, a second Renaissance opened in Barcelona, the 357-room Renaissance Barcelona Fira, with a great deal more pizazz.
Why do we use the word pizazz? Because of an extremely original design by French architect Jean Nouvel. The hotel's two towers are connected by a lush, 27-story vertical garden, filled with over 300 palm trees, running up the center of the building. Now, there are 'green hotels,' and then there's this. We like!
If you're looking for a hotel in a vintage building plopped in the middle of a culturally vibrant city? Yep, there's all at Hotel Banys Orientals in Barcelona. This el Born hotel is surrounded by historical buildings housing tapas restaurants, boutiques, cafes and tapas bars--it's enough character to fill a fiction novel.
There are 43 suites in Banys 18th-century building. The lofts have Gothic arches and exposed stone walls while maintaining a modern clean design, loads of natural light and comfy living space--a bonus in a city where rooms can be tiny. Our room happened to have a second story with a sitting room overlooking the main bedroom. All rooms either look onto the internal courtyard staircase or upon the pedestrian-only Carrer Argenteria.
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No, the W Barcelona hasn't turned into one of those European shopping malls with cars being raffled off by pretty women in tight dresses. The answer is pretty simple, actually: Starwood is gearing up to announce a new partnership to sponsor the Mercedes-Petronas Formula One team, and just in time for the press conference tomorrow, an actual formula one race car has been put on display in the lobby, for guests to admire.
We're used to just seeing cool art, a cocktail bar, and maybe some of that weird signature W grass in lobbies. But a race car? That'll do nicely!
Antonio Gaudi's Park Guell
On April 26, The Renaissance Barcelona will open in the city's downtown nabe near the Paseo de Gracia with 211 rooms, a 24-hour fitness center, the CRU Steak House, CUIT bar and lounge and perhaps best of all, La Terrassa roof top bar and lounge with flowing waterfalls and lounge furniture.
Despite the opening being less than a month away, there's no website up and running yet so we can't determine what the room rates will be like. But given that Renaissance is Marriott's boutiquey design brand, we'd expect rates somewhere upwards of 250 Euros. In the meantime, do not confuse this about-to-open property with the Renaissance by the airport.
A well-known Spanish brand of hotels, Vincci Hotels, will be opening their newest hotel, Vincci Bit in Barcelona next month, and guests will be treated to some pretty interesting hotel art. Unlike other places, where artists get commissioned to make specific pieces or installations just for the lobby, Vincci Bit has tapped seven artists to paint seven different murals in the corridors of the hotel.
Other murals, which are still being completed, have been done by artists from Italy, France, Japan, and, of course, Spain. The above shot is of the fourth floor, where American muralist Matt W. Moore decided to focus on triangles. Lots of them. The whole job reportedly took about 14 gallons of paints and two weeks of painting.
Starting this fall, Club Level guests will have exclusive access to 100% electric smart cars, which will be branded with the hotel's logo (though, better that than Frank Gehry's nearby fish sculpture).