The flagship 5 -star luxury hotel, VP Plaza España Design, brings ultra-contemporary style to Madrid’s Plaza de España, close to the city’s historic and cultural hotspots, writes Andrew Forbes.
Through creative use of art, design and architecture, the newest luxury hotel in Madrid the VP Plaza España Design (from VP Hoteles, a Madrid family owned hotel group) has a distinct style and character, that runs through the hotel’s public spaces, it’s chic Biloba Spa; the 214 guest rooms & suites; as well as through the stunning destination Ginkgo Sky Bar on the 12th floor.
Design & Function
I have to admit to being sometimes skeptical of ‘design hotels’ – the notion usually manifests itself with overt, self-conscious interiors that are more about the designers’ ego than the users of the space. Yet that is not the case at the VP Plaza España. Yes, design and nature are strong themes that run through the heart of this new hotel, but they are there to tell a story, and add beauty to what I believe is an extremely functional hotel, well-designed for both corporate and leisure visitors.
The Gingko Biloba tree
I remember walking in the centre of Tokyo one autumn, strolling along avenues lined with striking trees, their autumn colours ignited by the sunlight. Below my feet the streets were carpeted with beautiful fan-shaped leaves, in deep saffron yellow. They looked so beautiful one felt compelled to stop and pick one up and just study it. I discovered that these remarkable trees were the iconic Ginkgo Biloba. A species said to be the oldest in the world, a genuine living fossil, renowned for its strength, beauty and health-giving properties.
So, it feels a rather beautiful icon to have for the new VP Plaza España Design hotel. The Ginkgo theme reaches up through the hotel, from the sparkling lobby, through the public and meetings spaces; the spa, and spreads out like a lush canopy at the lofty 12th floor Ginkgo Sky Bar.
In the lobby, a light-filled space of glass, marble, stone and warm metals has a gallery feel, with striking art from Dario Urzay and Fernando Palacios. Opposite the bank of lifts, the wall is decorated with highly original, gold-leaf sculptures of small figures by Nacho Zubelu.
Etched glass panels of Gingko branches and leaves frame the space and echo the ceramic leaf sculptures in the business spaces; and the striking laser cut engraved metal leaves that line the pool terrace.
It’s creative, smart and inspirational – but not over-the-top. Here art and design are there to enjoy, but it doesn’t shout for attention.
It’s A People Thing
Of course, hotels must be about more than just design if they are to succeed. The fundamental element of hospitality is people. During my stay I found the team to be passionate about their new hotel – from the elegantly dressed doormen; the Guest Experience team (with their bespoke tailored outfits that elegantly drew together the themes of Asia and Spain); to the fun and professional bar tenders and mixologists on the 12th floor.
This is the first time VP Hoteles has entered the upscale 5-star market, but they are sticking close to their roots, literally, with a strong theme of nature, reflecting the fact that all their other Madrid hotels have gardens or classic Spanish patio courtyards, providing a peaceful oasis from city life.
So, this notion of nature has been carried through into the design of VP Plaza España. Here the garden is most evident in the hotel’s beautiful Botania Restaurant by the Larrumba Group.
A ceiling of lush texture; banquette seating that flows with an organic shape, and glimpses of a landscaped courtyard all combine it create a sensation, that although you are in the heart of the city, in a gleaming new metal and glass tower, you are still connected with nature.
The menu of Spanish and international dishes is often given a flavour of Asia, like the delicious grilled salmon marinated in sweet miso, served with steamed rice. The restaurant is open to the street as well as to the hotel’s lobby and attracts a smart urban crowd for lunch & dinner and weekend brunches.
Ginkgo Sky Bar
The 12th floor is rapidly becoming a city destination.
This urban oasis, styled with sub-tropical plants includes plenty of cool design features, like the mirrored ceiling.
There’s the stylish bar restaurant with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the Plaza de España, Madrid’s skyline and beyond to the mountains.
There is an additional cocktail bar within an area that can become completely open, when the floor-to-ceiling glass walls slide away.
The adjacent glass salon offers a relaxed area to meet throughout the day enjoying coffee, refreshments or drinks.
The outside public terraces and the guest-only suspended glass swimming pool and sun bathing area, offer almost 360-degree Madrid views.
Read our dedicated profile review of Madrid’s Ginkgo Sky Bar here.
At night a glass floor slides over the suspended swimming pool to create more terrace space for enjoying the warm summer Madrid nights. What’s more, from above the pool one can look through the glass and water to the hotel’s signature sculpture, a 25m metallic waterfall sculpture (created by Catalan artist Pere Gifre) that appears to cascade down from the glass bottom swimming pool on the 12th floor, to the bottom of the internal courtyard, on the ground floor of the hotel.
Guest rooms & suites
It wasn’t just the 12th floor SkyBar that surprised me. My guest room was impressive too. Don’t expect a standard business hotel room. Instead, these sleek spaces are designed exceptionally well – and look great. The VP Plaza España really understands how to design a well-functioning hotel room. There are 9 rooms categories, with the higher categories found on higher floors. There are even rooms that also include private gym equipment (although there is a 24-hour gym adjacent to the spa).
Spanish design company Cuarto Interior has in my opinion done an excellent job. Firstly, the rooms have double doors, so the bedroom area can be closed off from the bathroom and entrance; so, I didn’t hear a sound from the hotel corridor outside.
The windows are not just made to look cool from the exterior, they are also designed to deflect the sound of the city; which combined with soundproofing and the electric black-out blind meant there wasn’t any light or noise in the room – and no annoying LED lights either. Even the A/C control automatically went dark when you walked away. Together with the super comfortable bed all these thoughtful design features made for a perfect night’s sleep.
The rooms are spacious and uncluttered with different shades, tones and materials from laminates, wood, marble, fabric and stitched leather. Expect a Nespresso machine, minibar, and an excellent work desk with well-presented connectivity, USB etc.
Bathrooms include a shower wet-room, a bath tub, and separate W.C.
Views vary depending on the orientation of the room; from the lush Plaza de España to the spires and domes of Madrid, including the Royal Palace.
My stay at the VP Plaza España Design really inspired me. It was great to see contemporary cool design in Madrid. Don’t be put-off my a corporate looking hotel – it’s cool, friendly and very stylish. Even if you don’t book a room, a recommend you take the express lifts to the 12th floor and just get wowed by the ambiance and views pf the Gingko Skybar.
Double rooms at the 5-star VP Plaza España Design are priced from €220 per night on a room-only basis. Breakfast is an additional €29 per person.