Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

A ravishing newcomer has recently swept onto Madrid’s bustling hotel scene—and it’s making guests feel like royalty, for good reason.

The dazzling Santo Mauro—which debuted last December as a marquee member of Marriott International’s celebrated Luxury Collection—is the only hotel in Madrid housed in a genuine palace from the turn of the century. Built in 1902 with a distinct French flair for the Duke of Santo Mauro—an influential politician and socialite—the singular hotel also served as an embassy in its previous lives (the Swedish embassy presently stands right across the street). Now, following an exuberant renovation, the distinguished address in the city’s tony Chamberí neighborhood—a leafy longtime enclave for aristocratic madrileños—is luring discerning travelers seeking a decidedly different stay in the heart of Spain’s buzzing capital city.

Renowned Spanish interior designer, Lorenzo Castillo, helmed the three-building property’s latest transformation (most recently, it was part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection), imbuing it with an opulent yet modern feel that pays homage to its storied heritage. The common areas evoke an 18th-century Spanish house, which often juxtaposed various design styles. In the stunning Chinese Lounge, toile wallpaper, ornate ebony cabinets, and luxe splashes of silver and rose create a stylishly soothing visual mélange. Nearby, the show-stopping Red Room—awash in lush silks and velvets in boldly patterned garnet and Prussian blue, and accented with fanciful white molding, Chinoiserie ceramics, and pops of greenery—packs a sumptuous aesthetic punch.

Featuring high beds boasting down toppers and Frette linens, the 49 guestrooms (including 10 suites) have been revamped in neutral earth tones with natural materials including stone, marble and wood, while plush leather and velvet furnishings amplify the hotel’s inherent elegance. Castillo’s visionary talents manifest with particular gusto in the luxury suites; one features an enchanting tree-of-life motif, while another is swathed in a soft teal wallpaper bedecked with flower vases, complete with a matching bed crown lined in rich chocolate velvet.

Santo Mauro’s cuisine soars as high as the rarefied décor. Chef Rafael Peña—owner of Barcelona’s acclaimed restaurant, Gresca—creates world-class tasting menus at the golden-hued La Biblioteca, the palace’s original library, lined with books and antique treasures from the Duke of Santo Mauro’s private collection. The Spanish ritual of late breakfast kicks off the day in memorable fashion, thanks to warm yet pin-sharp service, impossibly fresh orange juice, and delectable dishes like an Iberian ham muffin with pulp of Mallorca’s prized Ramallet tomato, grown on the island since the 16th century.

Those looking to unwind in high style will want to beeline to El Jardin, the hotel’s achingly atmospheric garden, another rarity for a hotel in the city center. Surrounded by century-old chestnut trees and bursting with artful landscaping, it’s a prime perch for sophisticated light bites on the new outdoor terrace, or for a soignée private event beautifully lit by hanging lanterns. After dinner, the sleekly chic El Bar—once the billiards room of the Duke—makes a seductive spot for a craft cocktail.

Other unique touches distinguish Santo Mauro among the spate of recent notable hotel openings (Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, and Rosewood among them) in Madrid. The first and only Luxury Collection hotel in the city, it’s also the its only hotel to have a soundtrack composer (Lucas Vidal, winner of a Goya Award—the Academy Award of Spain) as in-house musical director. Guests can take a colorful historical tour of the property, and enjoy a daily “epicurean moment”: a Casilda cocktail—named for the Duchess of Santo Mauro—made with vodka, campari, and syrup from its centenary chestnut trees.

The hotel also debuts as Spain triumphantly rebounds from the pandemic travel slowdown. The country expects international tourist arrivals to reach 80% of pre-pandemic volumes in the second quarter—thanks in large part to a slew of Easter visitors last month—and is also one of this summer’s top-10 international destinations, according to Virtuoso, a global network of luxury travel advisors.

Madrid has been busily gussying up for its next star turn. The circa-1540 Paseo del Prado—arguably the city’s most iconic boulevard, recognized as the first tree-lined avenue in a European capital—and the adjoining Buen Retiro park, a verdant urban oasis comprising 15,000 trees, were added to Unesco’s World Heritage list last year.

Meanwhile, a complex, two-and-a-half-year redesign of the Plaza de España, one of Madrid’s most visited squares, was completed last November, rerouting its once-notorious traffic underground and planting more than 1,200 trees in and around the plaza. Most notably, the revamp has prioritized pedestrians and cyclists, creating green corridors linking public areas including the Plaza de Oriente, the Sabatini Gardens, and the Royal Palace.

For more information or to book, visit the Santo Mauro website.

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