When it opened its doors in 1886, the Gran Hotel Inglés was considered the first proper hotel in Madrid, with the first hotel restaurant open to the public. Now a $20 million renovation by the Rockwell Group has returned it to its former glory—and then some—with a flawless Art Deco–indebted design that celebrates the hotel’s 1920s heyday. From the circular brass chandelier in the grand lobby bar (pictured above) to the gold curtains and clawfoot tubs in the rooms, the space exudes classic splendor without feeling over the top.
To the Letter
Located in the Barrio de las Letras, the hotel was a favorite of literary luminaries like Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway’s favorite sherry bar, La Venencia, is directly across the street. To play off this rich past, the hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, enlisted Spanish publisher Zenda to curate a 600-volume-strong library and encourages you to borrow a book for your stay. Also worth a read? The vintage-postcard wallpaper that lines the closets.
In the guest rooms, decorative moldings mimicking electric circuitry climb across the walls to the ceiling, a nod to the hotel’s address on the first street in Madrid to receive electricity. (This was allegedly the second building to get wired, after Parliament.) A more 21st-century electrical offering: Rooms come with a smartphone that you can take with you when you explore the city—no data plan required!
The airy restaurant, Lobo8—designed to reflect the open dining rooms of the stately homes that once lined the street—flips traditional Spanish cuisine on its head. Chef Willy Moya’s tapas are playful, like a skewer with Bloody Mary gelée “lips” topped with an olive and an anchovy (hold it over your mouth for a fun selfie). Famed bullfighter and onetime Gran Hotel Inglés regular Rafael “El Gallo” Gómez Ortega would no doubt have loved the roasted beef loin with green mojo. When you’ve cleaned your plate, partake in the Spanish custom of sobremesa by simply relaxing, chatting, drinking a vermouth or two—and making plans to come back soon.