Madrid is buzzing with change. Turn a corner in the Spanish capital and chances are you’ll see renovation or new construction in full swing. Barcelona no longer seems to be at the heart of new openings; instead Madrid is increasingly the Spanish destination for style-hunters and hotel-gurus.
The BLESS Madrid Hotel (member of Leading Hotels of the World) is the flagship of a new collection of properties from Palladium Hotel Group. BLESS will include urban, as well as resort properties (BLESS Ibiza opens this summer).
BLESS Madrid has 111 rooms and suites; striking interior design by Lázaro Rosa-Violán; cuisine by celebrated Spanish chef, Martin Berasategui, including his new Etxeko Madrid restaurant; spacious guest rooms and suites with bespoke ‘blessed beds’; Magness Soulful Spa; and Fitnic Power Gym.
There are alluring public places to meet and share good times including the Versus Lively Lounge, a buzzing lobby bar & restaurant: the Fetén Clandestine Bar, in the basement, complete with bowling alley; and the Picos Pardos Sky Lounge which is scheduled to open this summer.
The pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the hedonistic luxury philosophy of BLESS Collection Hotels. I met the marketing manager who described the philosophy of this new collection of upscale boutique hotels, planned for cities and beach locations across the world. She told me it is all about the ‘pursuit of happiness and the best of life’. The values of the hotel come inspired by Epicuro, the Greek philosopher, and his belief in hedonism and the pursuit of happiness.
BLESS Hotel has been created to tempt, indulge and satisfy the senses; to create and share memorable experiences for guests. Moments to enjoy time with colleagues, friends and loved ones; relishing fine food; enjoy a good drink; embracing life.
Well, if you strip aware the marketing spin from this hedonistic philosophy, what are you left with? Well, in my mind you are left with the Spanish art of living. Yes, I think that BLESS Hotels have taken the fundamental pleasures of the Spanish way of life and enhanced it with hedonistic luxury.
There’s a reason why I love Spain – it’s the people and the way they embrace life. BLESS Hotels appears to be capturing this perfectly – and in real style. It’s all waiting to be shared with you.
Salamanca, with its streets lined with designer retailers and chic independent boutiques, is one of Madrid’s most sophisticated districts. It’s here on Calle Velazquez that BLESS Madrid Hotel has landed on the city’s hospitality scene.
62 Calle Velazquez has been a well-known address in Madrid for decades – home to a Gran Hotel where people met for work and pleasure. BLESS Madrid has brought that sparkle back. Once home to the Gran Hotel Velazquez, that opening in the 1940s, this classic mid-century building has been reborn in the 21st century as a 5-star temple to ‘hedonistic luxury’.
Style & Ambiance
Lázaro Rosa-Violán has designed a host of properties in Madrid, but at BLESS he has worked to create spaces that not only play homage to the building’s past, character and location; but also embody the BLESS philosophy of hedonistic luxury. Pretty much everything is bespoke, from the scents in the public spaces, to the furniture and fabric designs.
Mid-century cues are throughout the new hotel; from Spanish wooden parquet flooring and ceramic tiles; to bold lights fixtures; and vintage style bathroom fittings.
One of the hotel’s most striking original features, the mid-century marble spiral staircase, has been preserved, and transformed with bespoke architectural lighting by Lázaro Rosa-Violán.
The colour palette is warm, with lots of mauve, purple, dark green, red, amber and aquamarine. Textures are diverse, with glass sculptures on the walls, luxurious velvets on the seating; as bespoke fabrics on headboards.
The ground floor lobby is a large space divided into different zones. The initial visual impact upon entering needs a little improvement – in my mind it lacks something – one needs more than a small console table with a modest vase of flowers to greet you.
Yet behind that is the striking roulette bar, a circular bar that references the ‘La Ruleta’ bar that was once next door – a popular haunt for literary and media types.
There’ a feel that the classic history of this building has been respected yet BLESS feels a very contemporary interpretation of luxury and hospitality.
There are sofas, dining tables and easy chairs spread out through the space and on one side is a long bar. Towards the back is reception.
BLESS Madrid has only just opened, so the roof terrace for example hasn’t opened yet, but I did sneak up there and saw the long plunge pool sun decks, bar areas – and yes, some excellent cityscape views too. This will surely become a favourite summer destination for Madrileños.
The staff feels like a young team yet polished in their service; and warm and friendly in their style.
Guest Rooms & Suites
BLESS Madrid has clearly invest a significant amount in this hotel – materials and furnishings are of superb quality. The guest rooms are no exception.
Over 30% of the rooms are suites, yet even my premium deluxe room felt cavernous by city hotel standards.
Premium Deluxe Rooms
With its mid-century wooden herringbone patterned floor; a French style vintage bathtub; thick rugs; extravagant velvet seating and bold design accents like the headboard, the room had a sophisticated feel – much like the welcoming warmth of a luxury Madrid apartment that one might find in this upscale Salamanca neighbourhood.
The French style vintage bathtub is in the room, by the window.
The bathroom echoed the period of the building but with contemporary fittings like heated mirror and high-pressure shower.
Signature suites are distributed across the property, from the street facing ‘BLESS Your Divinity’ suite 606 with its own balcony terrace; to the ‘BLESS Your Savage Mind’ garden suite with large terraces, hot tub and living room.
BLESS are focused on creating guest experiences and Olivia the Guest Experiences Manager and her team, are always on hand. Part of their armoury of sensory pleasures is their Bathology menu (all rooms have a tub). Choose from a selection of bath experiences (from calming to energising) using essential oils such as lavender, camomile, and rosemary, and handmade soaps. Yes, you’ve guessed it, they can also draw the bath for you at an agreed hour and have everything ready – even a seductive option for romantic breaks.
Martín Berasategui, Spain’s most decorated chef, with a remarkable 10 Michelin stars, is behind the creativity of the complete food and beverage offering at BLESS Madrid, promising guests a culinary experience from breakfast through to dinner.
He has opened Etxeko Madrid at the hotel – a flagship restaurant bringing the flavours of his native Basque country to the Spanish capital. The unpretentious menu also includes classic Spanish produce prepared with the flair and sophistication of the Berasategui trained kitchen.
Versus Lively Lounge
The lobby lounge, bar and restaurant is open for breakfast, snacks and meals throughout the day. Live music is planned as well as a calendar of events to make this space an integral part of the Madrid social scene.
The Berasategui breakfast menu is comprehensive, from Spanish favourites like tortilla de patatas; fine cured Iberico ham; as well as hot chocolate with churros. There is also a full English breakfast; and Asian salads and soups. Special breakfast menus, with evocative titles like ‘The Old Continent’ and ‘The Origin of Humanity’ include dishes that are inspired from all corners of the world.
Fetén Clandestine Bar
In the basement there is a city bar, an endeavor to capture something like a speakeasy. It has a bowling alley too, so I am sure it will be popular for ‘afterwork’ drinks; and with colleagues on business trips.
At the time of my visit, literally days after opening, I felt this space was yet to find its ambiance. The potential is great; with its sexy champagne-style pole dancing room, different cocktail bars and the bowling alley – I believe in time it will become a cool, late-night destination.
But at the moment, with its white tiled. mosaic floor, and bright, overhead lighting it lacked the right mood. I’ll be interested to go back in a few months’ time when this space has found it sexy, late-nights style.
The lower ground floor is also home to the Magness Soulful Spa. The spa has a classic feel with beautiful bespoke tiling but offers the latest facilities like a dry sauna; contrasting hot and cold thermal circuits; ice waterfall; and hot tub. I understand the hotel will be working with Tacha Beauty products.
The adjacent gym is modest but well equipped.
Madrid is an ever-increasingly popular city-break destination. Art, culture, design, gastronomy, history – it’s a capital with all the compelling draws for visitors, yet without the over-tourism of so many other European cities. It has also retained its strong Spanish identity. It is a city that really rewards these that explore, and I have always enjoyed walking tours with Insiders Madrid.
Founded by Joanna Wivell, the walking tours from Insiders Madrid offer a completely fresh and unique perspective to the city through gourmet experiences, art tours and walking tours. You might visit a fashion designer in their studio; a guitar maker; or try authentic tapas in one of the oldest bars in the city.
BLESS Madrid Hotel
Calle Velazquez 62, Madrid
T: +34 915 75 28 00