There are dozens of boutique hotels across Spain but only a few make good use of the space that they have, especially when it come to guest room size and bathrooms. Too often these “design hotels” are pretty but not practical. I know of one right in the center of Madrid that has a beautiful lobby and bar but the standard rooms are tight and the bathrooms too small for even one person. The good news is that in recent years we have witnessed many new comers to this market in Spain, each improving and making the industry more competitive. So whether you like to call it a Boutique hotel or Design Hotel I have chosen the following hotels that I personally think meet a higher standard of design, space and most of all excellent service. This is my list of those that are certainly well worth a visit for any fan of boutique hotels.
Boutique hotels in Madrid
Hotel Urso, Madrid
Neo classic Madrid on the outside with surprising open spacious contemporary design on the inside. Hotel Urso is surprisingly spacious for being a boutique hotel in the center of Madrid. Many city center hotels often lack a sense of space and comfort all too often making guests feeling a bit squeezed for the sake of design. What I love about Urso is that it is unpretentious making one feel cozy is the winter and clean and cool in the summer. Urso Spa by Natura Bissè has the most beautiful indoor pool in Madrid. They also have some of the largest private terraces in the city. Urso is me best pick for Madrid.
The Principal Madrid, Madrid
The latest boutique hotel and the first five star hotel to open on Madrid’s main thoroughfare Gran Via, the Principal Madrid, has already made the shortlist for ‘Best Urban Hotel’ in Wallpaper magazine. Occupying a 1917 landmark building with Art nouveau and art deco details on the exterior this hotel offers lush modern interiors with the only five star service right in the heart of Madrid. If you like hotspots this is your place. The roof top terrace fills up with locals for pre disco cocktails. From here you can walk to all the important attractions and monuments.
Due to open June 2016, Totem will be the newest addition to the Marugal Distinctive Hotel Management portfolio of boutique hotels. It is based on a concept of simple luxury that made its sister hotels – Urso Hotel & Spa, also in Madrid, Torralbenc in Menorca and Cap Rocat in Mallorca – instant successes.
Set between the stylish Calles of Serrano, Goya and Velazquez in the fashionable Salamanca neighborhood Totem is expected to be the next hot spot in Madrid. The 67 guest rooms and suites will be large with big windows and wooden floors, bathrooms with black marble, and public spaces buzzing to the beat of Madrid.
Based on Marugal’s track record I am betting Totem will be one of the best in Madrid!
Boutique hotels in Barcelona
Mercer Hotel, Barcelona
Built on ancient Roman ruins, the Mercer retains architectural features dating back to the 1st century AD. From the outside the medieval facade gives no indication of its comfortable contemporary interiors. Located in the Gothic quarter the Mercer is perfectly placed to enjoy the center of Barcelona and they have a excellent concierge desk.
Hotel Serras, Barcelona
The Serras is Modern New York look with contemporary Catalan style. In a city that has banned the building of new hotels it is very refreshing to find just that, a new hotel overlooking the Port Vell Marina on the edge of the Gothic quarter. Because of the ban I find that the hotels in Barcelona are really having to reinvent themselves, finding new ways to make the old familiar spaces look new with an inviting atmosphere. Often times they must mix the old with the new and The Serras Hotel is no exception.
The hotel has 30 rooms and suites, a rooftop bar, a pool that overlooks the marina, and a restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Marc Gascons. The hotel has taken note of a popular request from traveling families. Many hotels in Europe do not offer connecting rooms or family sized suites but that is now quickly changing. The Serras offers special designed family rooms that give parents privacy while ensuring children’s well being with connecting rooms and two-bedroom suites. What I love about this smart hotel is that it is near the beach but just on the edge of the gothic district making most of town walkable.
Boutique hotels north of Madrid
Hotel Viura, La Rioja
Slightly off the beaten path in the tiny village of Villabuena de Álava in the wine region of La Rioja, Hotel Viura‘s cubist design seems to fit just perfectly in a very traditional landscape. This hotel has excellent service and makes for a great alternative to the famous Marques de Riscal hotel designed by Frank Gehry just a few villages away. If you love excellent wine, food, and design this little four star is well worth the journey.
Hotel Iturregi, Basque Country
The smallest on my list, Iturregi has only 6 rooms and two suites feeling more like a country villa getaway than a boutique hotel. With gorgeous views of Txacoli vineyards and the Basque coast this hidden gem is well off the beaten path between Bilbao and San Sebastian. Attention to detail is big here. A perfect spot to be out of the city lime light.
Boutique hotels in Andalusia
Palacio Villapanes, Seville
XVIII century palace turned hotel in Seville’s old quarter. Hidden away in a maze of narrow streets the Villapanes offers simple elegance in a region where the tendency is to include too many styles in the same space. The staff is young and their english skills are excellent. (also a plus in southern Spain)
Hotel V, Vejer de la Frontera
Hotel V (short for Vejer de la Frontera) is atop one the most beautiful white washed villages of Andalusia. Hotel V makes my list because it is yet another hotel that has managed to blend historic architecture with contemporary design tastefully. With only 12 rooms guest are well looked after here. A great spot to visit for experiencing true southern Spanish culture in cool clean contemporary accommodations.
Atrio, Caceres, Extremadura
Atrio is a restaurant that happens to have a hotel rooms, both designed with the other in mind making one complete experience. From design to table everything has been meticulously considered. Located in Cáceres, not far from the border with Portugal, Atrio is a welcome addition to the offering of hotels in the area and is a destination in itself. If you want to try an out of the way place in Spain and you’re a foodie, this is the hotel to try.
Boutique hotels in the Baleares
Ca’s Papá Valldemossa, Mallorca
The town of Valldemossa is surrounded by the Tramuntana Mountains which have an almost magical or mystical presence about them. Only 15 minutes from Palma de Mallorca, Ca’s Papa’s smart and comfy furnishings over 13 rooms, right in the center of town immediately makes guests feel right at home and very aware of the great energy that pervades the area. A mix of locally made furniture with contemporary touches work surprising well here. Experience the luxury of Mallorca in style without draining your bank account.
Perched on a hill top surrounded by vineyards with sweeping views of the mediterranean sea Torralbenc is one of my favorite places in Spain. A serene escape located between the island towns of Mahon and Ciutadella you would never know this hotel is only a four star retreat. The rooms and cottages, food and service all reflect the qualities of a five star hotel. If you want a change from the craziness on Ibiza or Mallorca make it a point to try Menorca.
Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, Palma de Mallorca
Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is the latest addition to the biggest balearic island, Mallorca. Right in the heart of Palma de Mallorca this one time palace belonged to the Alomar Femenia family. Now a Spanish historic landmark, this architectural treasure was built in the neoclassical style of the 19th century to showcase its owner’s wealth and importance.
The property has 42 rooms and suites, many with wood-beamed ceilings and covered verandas, as well as with original frescos and moldings. Its largest suite “La Torre” boasts over 1000 square feet situated on multiple levels featuring two bedrooms, a living room and private terrace with panoramic views of the Cathedral, old town and views to the sea and Tramontana Mountains.
What makes this hotel special is the fact that it is in the old town of Palma de Mallorca and offers superior 5 star service. Sant Francesc is raising the bar on style and service in the city. Don’t get me wrong, there are some beautiful four star hotels and a few other solid five stars right now but this new addition is proof Palma is upping its game on elegance, comfort and sophistication. I think any visit to Mallorca should include at least a few night in Palama before moving on to one the secluded resorts.