Even in a metropolis as historic as Madrid, it is not typically you will be greater than 120 years outdated and nonetheless thought to be a junior accomplice. Then once more, not many properties past the Mandarin Oriental Ritz Madrid have the mighty Prado Museum as a neighbour. Based in 1819, the museum predates the hotel by 90 years, however at this time their relationship is symbiotic. They’ve turn out to be shut sufficient of their century-plus partnership that it is arduous to not marvel if the grand museum missed the luxury hotel when it was closed for a protracted refurbishment.
Work started in 2018, three years after Mandarin Oriental formally took this doyen of glamour tourism beneath its wing. The bodily modifications had been essentially profound and refined – it needed to be a transparent relaunch beneath new possession, with out ruining over 100 years of hard-won loyalty from round Madrid and past.
“The corporate was very respectful of the hotel’s DNA, its essence, and its hyperlink with the area people,” says Inma Casado, who has been with the hotel for 15 years, lengthy earlier than the takeover. “It was an improve when it comes to the service – we had coaching in every little thing from language, together with non-verbal communication, to service. The hotel was somewhat drained and the service earlier than wasn’t ready for Madrid these days.”
One of many administration’s goals was to get a Michelin star for the overhauled Deesa restaurant. When the storied information instantly awarded considered one of their cherished etoiles, administration had been as relieved as they had been expectant. Whereas that’s their highest finish eating possibility, El Jardin has lengthy attracted extra informal visitors – the Ritz is a grand outdated hotel, however these behind the scenes are eager to make sure it does not turn out to be a museum to itself.
“You come right here round six within the night, you may see the lifetime of Madrid, dwelling and respiration, right here within the foyer – that is fabulous for somebody coming from overseas,” says general manager Greg Liddell. “You see Madrid right here, and we’re very centred on that.”
Liddell, initially from Sydney, arrived in Madrid in August 2020, with the winds of COVID-19 nonetheless howling by way of the streets of the Spanish capital. Round eight months later, he was in a position to reopen the hotel, maybe the nation’s most well-known, after its largest ever refurbishment. It should have been terrifying.
“I assume it was somewhat daunting,” says the Australian. “However we had the benefit of constructing certain we might open with none quick rush due to the pandemic.”
The refurb wasn’t botched, but it surely wasn’t clean, both. There have been issues with supplies and tradesmen expert sufficient to do the difficult work, even earlier than the pandemic struck, however the nadir got here in September 2018 when a part of the grand hotel collapsed, killing one employee and injuring one other 11. Even with the regular company hand of the Mandarin Oriental group on its shoulder, the outdated hotel’s rebirth was proving troubled.
For a luxurious hotel that has at all times catered to elite travellers, the Ritz Madrid has a surprisingly fraught historical past. Throughout the Spanish Civil Struggle the Palm Courtroom foyer restaurant – now resplendent in white with artwork adorning the partitions and a considered quantity of gilding all through – was an area hospital. Whereas upmarket visitors ordered room service above, blood splashed on the white marble under. A technique or one other, this hotel has at all times been on the centre of issues in Madrid.
At the moment the hotel as an alternative presents an unreality, eliminated not simply from the horrors of warfare, however of virtually every little thing else in addition to. From the brand new glass roof above the foyer, which took a 12 months to assemble, to the distinctive portraits of Spanish artists within the Pictura bar, there is a feeling of flawlessness and a way that this property will matter for an extended whereas but.
Doubles on the Mandarin Oriental Ritz Madrid begin from $985 mattress and breakfast. See mandarinoriental.com