The guests who frequent the best luxury hotels know that, when it comes to a stay in Madrid, nothing outshines the Hotel Ritz, among Europe’s best lodgings.
Inaugurated in 1910 by King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia, granddaughter of the English monarch Edward VII, it was designed by the French architect Charles Mewes in what was the cultural and financial center of the city at the time, very close to the Prado Museum.
Its 162 rooms (with 42 suites and one Royal Suite) are all different, and they are notable for their ampleness and elegance. Some have views of the Prado Museum and the gardens, while others look upon the Neptune Fountain or the Plaza de la Lealtad with its obelisk marking May the 2nd, in memory of the 1808 uprising where the people of Madrid rebelled against the Napoleonic invasion.
As a special touch, the beds are covered in bedspreads bearing the Royal Crown, the hotel’s symbol, and the sheets are made of Irish linen with the logo embroidered in silk.
Each room is decorated with antiques, ceramics from the Far East, crystal candelabra, valuable paintings, and luxurious, hand-made rugs from the Royal Spanish Tapestry Factory, where the painter Francisco de Goya himself once worked.
As a special touch, the beds are covered in bedspreads bearing the Royal Crown, the hotel’s symbol, and the sheets are made of Irish linen with the logo embroidered in silk. The baths in all the suites are luxurious marble, and they are stocked with exclusive Acqua di Parma and Penhaligon’s brand products.
But what truly makes the Hotel Ritz Madrid stand out is that, whether in its halls, its gardens, sitting at the bar in the Bar Velázquez or at one of the sumptuous tables at the Restaurant Goya, it’s a place where you can feel and breathe history, because once upon a time those same spaces were occupied by great characters in the history of Spain and the world.
In 1915, the Maharajah of Kapurthala and his wife, the young Spanish flamenco dancer Anita Delgado Briones, were guests at the hotel. Madrileños were fascinated by the love story of a common Spanish woman who was able to catch the eye of a Hindu prince.
Another illustrious celebrity, Margaretha Geertruida, spent several months at the hotel between 1916-1917, very shortly before her death. Do you recognize that name? She was no other than the seductive international spy known as Mata Hari.
Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie was perhaps one of the most complicated visitors received at the hotel, for no one could leave his presence with their backs turned to him so employees had to leave the imperial guest’s rooms walking backward.
During the decades of the 50’s and 60’s mega productions were filmed in Spain, and famous stars like Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and others stayed at the Ritz.
However, the rigid Catholic morals imposed by the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, whirled Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975, did not always look kindly upon actors. It is said that James Stewart was barred from entering the hotel because of his profession, and it was only after he showed his identity card as a Coronel in the American Air Forces that he was allowed to be a guest there. Doubtlessly, those were other times.
Contemporary celebrities that have been spotted staying at the Hotel Ritz in Madrid include actresses Michelle Pfeiffer, Demi Moore and Claudia Cardinale from Italy as well as Madonna. Actors Anthony Hopkins and Richard Gere are some of the other famous faces who also have visited the iconic hotel. ■