I have never been to Spain before, and in fact apart from trips to London, which were more for business than pleasure, have never really 'done' a city break. This was a spontaneous booking to break up the spring, and as a lucky, extra holiday, budget was an issue - especially with the sad demise of Stirling against the Euro. So we were thrilled to find a fantastic deal at the hotel through Travelzoo, including an upgrade to a Premium room with associated gifts etc. And what gifts - not only fruit and water in the room but lovely chocolates on arrival, as well as the nightly turn-down service - chocolates on the pillow most nights and an Easter egg on Good Friday!
My only single complaint of any sort was the size of the room. We were on the Plaza Colón side of the building overlooking the fountains, and I imagine in the smallest of the Premium rooms. Which is fair enough considering that the price we paid which was less than 50% of the published Easter rate.
However, the room had all the style and advantages described by previous reviewers, and we found it easy to enjoy the 5* luxury and service, the fantastic breakfasts included in our package and the superb location while still keeping costs controlled. Madrid is a fairly expensive city, but worth every Euro. If you were able to splash the cash I'm sure the hotel's room service and mini bar were great, but at over €20 for a G'n'T we hit the streets for our own entertainment.
It's about 20 minutes from the hotel to the centre of everything around Sol and Plaza Major with all the cervezerias, wine and tapas bars, but the streets are really interesting to wander and if you get the sort of blisters we did from pacing miles of pavements there's a great bus service outside the hotel and choice of two metro stops.
Our only regrets over the trip were that we took the wrong clothes. Over 2 days it ranged from a high of 24 degrees one afternoon down to 13 degrees the next and we had taken more smart clothes than comfortable sightseeing ones - while people in the hotel make an effort for breakfast, Madrid is more about style than bling and more or less anything goes sartorially. If you're not using the hotel restaurant but are aiming for beer and tapas, you certainly don't need to overdo the collar and tie. We also took the wrong footware (those pavements are hard!), an out-of-date guidebook - use Maribel and the Tripadvisor guide as others have advised - and didn't have a Spanish phrase book. We didn't find many people who spoke English, which is fine - why should they? - but with our very rudimentary Spanish we missed out on some things such as some food items, and having a chat with locals rather than doing the English thing of pointing and talking louder! But we did have a wonderful time and are hoping to go back very soon, with the right shoes and a better phrase book.
And Easter is a great time to visit.
Finally, as well as the old town the hotel is walkable to the Prado (we didn't), the Reina Sofia (we did - but found you could see everything in the same sort of time it took to queue to get in - the Spanish seem good at that), the open space of Retiro Gardens and Atocha Station. Go to the station for the experience alone, even if you're not going to take a train. It's incredible - Kew Gardens with terrapins. We did take a train to lovely if touristy Toledo, but be warned that you need to book in advance - they only take bookings for seats and when the train's 'complet' it really is. You might get a ticket if you hang around for a cancellation, tickets come and go by the second. We got two tickets sitting in different carriages just after we gave up all hope, so you can be lucky.
In summary, a great hotel, if classic in style rather than contemporary, and a little mean on space in some rooms. Wonderful beds, wonderful service, wonderful breakfasts and wonderful location. Wish I was there now.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Uniquely located on the Plaza de Colon, the Hotel Gran Melia Fenix is a reference of the finest in the city's hotel industry, and member of the exclusive group of The Leading Hotels of the World. With its famous DRY Cosmopolitan Bar by Javier de las Muelas, it is the foremost example of luxury and service with all of the Spanish charisma.Its magnificent location in the exclusive Salamanca neighbourhood, in the heart of the financial district and surrounded by the famous streets of Serrano, Velazquez, Goya and on the Paseo of la Castellana. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Melia Fenix Hotel Madrid
- Gran Melia Madrid
- Gran Melia Hotel Madrid