Last month, Madrid saw a brand-new opening in the form of BLESS – a stylish, retro-inspired boutique hotel located on Calle Velázquez in the upscale Salamanca district. Designed by renowned Spanish designer and architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán, it’s the first property from new international luxury brand, Palladium Hotel Group (BLESS Hotel Ibiza will open this summer), and it’s a very cool customer indeed.
Previously the Gran Hotel Velázquez, BLESS Hotel Madrid capitalises on the building’s history and mid-century design. The original spiral staircase with Murano glass runs from top to bottom, and a Fifties-style red-rose carpet adds to the vintage look. Each of the 111 rooms and suites has a clean, urban feel, with wooden parquet floors, jewel-coloured velvet sofas and modern art. They reminded me of apartments in San Francisco or Williamsburg, especially in the bathrooms, which have cast-iron fittings, roll-top baths and Le Labo products.
If you don’t wish to leave your room (and who can blame you), you can order a ‘Bathology’ experience, where someone will come and prepare a special bath for you. I tried the relaxing bath, which came with a body scrub of British roses and honey, a natural soap made from Argan oil and aloe leaf juice, and a body oil of sweet almond and lavender.
The suites are obviously more spacious, with lounge areas, terraces and views of the garden or Salamanca. Beds have memory-foam mattresses, Egyptian cotton linen and a ‘pillow menu’ to maximise comfort levels. There’s also a gym (called Sweat Box), spa and hammam with beautiful Spanish painted tiles – an ideal hangout for anyone wishing to ease their pavement-pounded muscles.
But it’s the fabulous ETXEKO that’s the real star of the show. All the food – from breakfast to dinner – is headed up by ten-Michelin-starred Basque chef, Martin Berasategui. Etxeko means ‘homemade’ in Basque, and the menu was a kaleidoscopic array of Spanish modern gastronomy. Everything – even the plates – is like a work of art. We dined on creamy calamari and prawn tagliatelle, lamb shanks with Madrid cheese, pistachio soufflé and ginger ice-cream. At around 24 euros for a main, the prices aren’t bad at all for this level of cuisine.
For something less formal, the Versus Lively Lounge offers Spanish wines and vermouths with picotea (nibbles), such as smoked mussels, oysters, patatas bravas and charcuterie, or a light Castilian soup. This is a great option for lunch, or for catching up with friends.
Head Sommelier Cristina de la Calle – one of the best in Spain – recommended a bottle of K5 Argiñano from Aia and an El Rincon from Madrid to pair with our meal, and both were spot on. Fully sated, we continued our evening downstairs at basement bowling alley, Fetén – a ‘Clandestine Bar’ where the party could continue until dawn.
Rooftop ‘Picos Pardos Sky Lounge’ is soon to open, and will include a cocktail bar, raw food menu, Balinese loungers and an infinity pool. Make no mistake about it – BLESS Hotel Madrid will be the place to hang out this summer.
A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, BLESS Hotel Madrid has deluxe rooms from £236 per room, not including breakfast. For more information, including details of how to book, please visit www.blesscollectionhotels.com.