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We just love a good play on words because while “staying dry” at Gran Meliá Fénix’s DRY Bar is possible, with an 84-page bar menu, it’s probably not the time or the place.
The bar, whose full name is the lengthy DRY Cosmopolitan Bar by Javier de las Muelas, has a tantalizing selection of bevvies that fall into categories such as DRY & Tonics, Exotiks, Sensory, and a full page of Beer Cocktails (remember we saw this as a trend during Cocktail Week?). But it’s really the Classics, as in martini classics, that the bar most wants you to try, because when you do, you join a select group.
Each person who orders the Extra Dry Martini (€13 or $17) officially becomes a—as in you get a certificate and everything—proud supporter of the “Javier de las Muelas Dry Foundation, created for the development of the cocktail world.” Your certificate states your martini order number, as does the martini counter above the Bar’s bar.
You’ll be drinking your lip-smacking, mouth-drying martini (gin is certainly the thing here with 60 varieties available) in a clubby, woody type of bar where you feel you can stay and sink into the furniture for a while.
It’s chic, it’s sexy, it’s in a seriously up-and-coming part of Madrid – it’s the Hotel Urso ('Bear Hotel'), which opened quietly last week. And “quietly” is the right word – according to this account in CN Traveler España (in Spanish, or via Google Translate), the hotel was firmly shut up with nobody around until the day before opening; and they only fixed the awning with the Hotel Urso branding on it the morning of the day itself. Mañana mañana, and all that.
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When we went down for dinner at ME Madrid Reina Victoria’s restaurant, Ana La Santa, at 9:45 p.m. while staying at the hotel, we were the only people in the restaurant. By the time we left at around 11 p.m., it was packed to the gills.
We headed up to the hotel’s super-swanky rooftop bar, The Roof: besides seeing one other forlorn-looking North American couple, it was empty. So we headed back down to the Ana La Santa Bar for cocktails and were surrounded by locals all just getting their after-dinner espressos as we reached the midnight hour.
By the time we hit the hay at around 1:30 a.m. the streets just outside the hotel were reaching a fever pitch. When we went back to the lobby at around 4:30 a.m. to check out, the loungey lobby was packed.
This is ME Madrid. (See the pics below!)
Bigger is always better, of course – or mas grande, mas bueno, as
people who don't speak Spanish they say in Madrid. Because not content with the three Novotels Accor already owns in the city; they’re getting another – and this one is going to be the biggest Novotel in the world.
The Hotel Convención – a gargantuan four star hotel a few blocks away from Retiro Park – is going to be completely redesigned, refurbished and will debut as a Novotel in 2016. Plans include a rooftop pool, business floors, and a children’s corner.
Madrid already has a a plethora of beautiful (and affordable) boutique hotels, but in August one more will open. Hotel Urso (or "bear") is a design-driven modern boutique at the crossroads of three central neighborhoods: Chamberi, up-and-coming Tribunal and fabulous LGTB hub Chueca (we'll leave the bear jokes to you). The hotel is operated by Marugal who also manage the boxy Viura in Rioja, and the art-infused Square Hotel in Paris.
Which is probably why we were so excited during our recent stay at Room Mate Laura in Madrid. Because, of course, we can barely stay in a nice hotel without a fancy umbrella being thrust at us by the concierge or the cupboard. But an offer of a raincoat? That’s a new one. A thoughtful one, too.
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.
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There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· The Next Radisson Blu Will Be In Philly: In other Radisson news today, the Radisson Plaza Warwick in Philadelphia is undergoing a $17 million renovation that will see the hotel converted into a Radisson Blu property by this summer. This will be the fourth Radisson Blu to open in America, after this month's Mall of America opening. The Warwick, which originally opened in 1926, contains 297 rooms, 4 suites, a fitness center, 3 dining venues, and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For more juicy hotel news, read on!
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...
We suppose we should have seen this coming. After all, if you can book a massage for your dog, and make use of pet loyalty programs, then it's really no surprise that a shopping mall in Madrid is now offering a hotel for plants.
Hotel Para Plantas, which had exceeded its bandwidth limit when we tried to visit its site, is located inside the Isla Azul shopping center, located off the M-40 highway. Not too far away is the Egido Via Lusitana, with rates starting at €46. So even if you prefer to ride with your cacti on the airplane, you can at least have separate sleeping quarters once you land in Madrid.