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The Westin Palace Madrid

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to visit Madrid. It’s a city that used to be home to my father during his years as a peddler of the English language (heavily accented with Irish) to wealthy Spanish youths. It’s a city where, with my rusty Mexican Spanish, I can make myself understood. It’s a city that has a deep and profound fondness for food, art and passion, and I’m into at least two of those. Finally, this year, a Christmas trip led to my first encounter with Madrid, staying at the iconic Westin Palace Madrid, and my only regret is that I didn’t visit sooner.

In the city’s Art Walk, the Westin Palace Madrid is indeed close to much of this city’s finest art collections. Only five minutes from the capacious Prado Museum, where one can marvel at many familiar masterpieces, although the majority of paintings come from the Spanish Royal Collection, amassed between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Of course, there are many visiting collections and at the time of our visit there was also a fascinating temporary exhibition of Goya’s drawings. Also within five minutes walk from the Westin Palace Madrid, art lovers can find the museums of Reina Sofía, where the greatest artists and movements of the twentieth century’s are on display, and Thyssen-Bornemisza, which contains works that fill the gaps in the collections of the other two museums, as well as completing the famous Golden Triangle of Art. One final recommendation would be the tiny CaixaForum cultural hub, where we were lucky enough to catch an exhibition about luxury, featuring a glittering selection of historical treasures.

Westin Madrid Front Door
Westin Madrid Lobby

The Westin Palace Madrid is itself a work of art. The beautiful building was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912 and was notably only the second hotel in the world to have a bathroom in every room! Luminaries such as Picasso, Dalí, Hemingway and Rita Hayworth have passed through its doors and it has a rich history that includes a significant part in the meetings between Henry Kissinger and the Chinese, as well as being the site of a former hospital during the Spanish Civil War.

Inside the hotel, the sleek lobby directs guests up some steps, straight towards the showpiece stained glass cupola which tops La Rotunda restaurant. This sweeping circular room is the location for the breakfast buffet to beat all breakfast buffets, but it also provides a modern European menu throughout the day. A little exploration will soon reveal the various luxury concessions that are tucked into the nooks of the Westin Palace Madrid’s ground floor, as well as the two Asian restaurants, Asia Gallery and Green T Sushi Bar, and the 1912 Museo bar. Both Asian restaurants reflect the nature of their cuisine in the furnishings, with the Sushi Bar decorated in a fusion style that combines modern Spanish furniture with the odd authentic Japanese piece. Similarly, the Cantonese menu of the Asia Gallery is reflected in the lacquered wood finish of its cute doorway and the traditional wall hangings. The rest of the hotel’s décor is definitely classic luxury, with marble tiling and lush carpets, but the occasional fuchsia sofa gives the hotel a modern twist.

Inside the hotel, the sleek lobby directs guests up some steps, straight towards the showpiece stained glass cupola which tops La Rotunda restaurant. This sweeping circular room is the location for the breakfast buffet to beat all breakfast buffets, but it also provides a modern European menu throughout the day. A little exploration will soon reveal the various luxury concessions that are tucked into the nooks of the Westin Palace Madrid’s ground floor, as well as the two Asian restaurants, Asia Gallery and Green T Sushi Bar, and the 1912 Museo bar. Both Asian restaurants reflect the nature of their cuisine in the furnishings, with the Sushi Bar decorated in a fusion style that combines modern Spanish furniture with the odd authentic Japanese piece. Similarly, the Cantonese menu of the Asia Gallery is reflected in the lacquered wood finish of its cute doorway and the traditional wall hangings. The rest of the hotel’s décor is definitely classic luxury, with marble tiling and lush carpets, but the occasional fuchsia sofa gives the hotel a modern twist.

Westin Madrid Rotunda
The Westin Palace Madrid Premier Room

In the rooms, described as Belle Epoque style, the colours of the art and soft furnishings are muted and it’s quite functional. Of course, in a city like Madrid, who’s going to be staying in their hotel room all day? The room offers all the usual features, including a 32-inch flat screen TV and a signature “Heavenly” bed, which purports to have a custom pillow-top mattress and was indeed very comfortable! The only thing missing was a coffee machine, but I won’t hold it against them, since coffee was readily available throughout the hotel and via room service. The marble bathroom was also very fine – the perfect place to relax and prepare for an evening of excitement in Madrid’s city centre.

The centre of Madrid, although only part of its sprawling metropolis, is reasonable walkable and, with a pair of any shoes but your high heels, it’s very easy to get from the Westin Palace Madrid into the myriad alleyways and byways where the finest tapas and wine bars can be found. In fact, moving west through the Cortes district into Centro, we were able to take in plenty of twinkling Christmas lights and the Plaza Mayor, before settling in to a few quiet drinking establishments and letting our hair down with the sort of excess that would have made my Irish father very proud.

The Westin Palace Madrid is the ideal base to explore from, being perfectly positioned for the city’s famous art galleries, but also being only a stone’s throw from major sites such as the Catedral, the luxury boutiques of Salamanca and the Retiro Park. If you, like me, have an interest in food, wine or culture – and who doesn’t? – don’t wait any longer and go to Madrid at once!

The Westin Palace Madrid
Plaza de las Cortes, 7
Madrid 28014
Spain

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