Features Mann Overboard

Gran Hotel Inglés

Courtesy of Gran Hotel Inglés

This family-owned property, part of Hidden Away Hotels, is the oldest hotel in Madrid, having opened its doors for the first time in 1886. Uniquely positioned in the heart of Spain’s characterful Barrio de las Letras — a stone’s throw from Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Gran Vía, the Prado Museum and Retiro Park — but tucked away on an unassuming street, the ideally-located boutique hotel combines contemporary urban sophistication, in one of Europe’s most exciting cities, with the glamour of bygone times.

A New Identity

With only 48 rooms and suites, designed with Art Deco features and luxe relaxation in mind, Gran Hotel Inglés has been completely restored and renovated under the artistic direction of Rockwell Group, to be reborn as one of the finest properties in today’s Madrid. The lobby ceiling has statement circular chandeliers and, inspired by a classic English manor, a central lobby bar is surrounded by a round cocktail lounge intended as a gathering spot for locals as much as for international visitors. Owners Carmen Cordón and Ignacio Jiménez kept the promise made by the hotel’s original owner, Don Agustín Ibarra, to “spare no sacrifice when it comes to the furniture or to the many modern technologies that can be used in your new home.” Just like Don Agustín in his day, Carmen and Ignacio scoured the seven seas to capture and translate the magnificence of the salons, rooms and dining areas into the Gran Hotel Inglés’ present-day incarnation. During the renovation, the number of rooms and suites was reduced to just 48, in a display of contemporary design so that guests would no longer have to cross the hallway to use the bathroom. All rooms comprise both a bathtub and a shower, something that was unthinkable in the 1880s and was not easily executed today. Rooms and suites range from deluxe, opening out onto their own light-filled courtyard, to the Meller Suite, complete with its own private terrace with a jacuzzi, or the top Presidential Suite, with a separate bedroom, working area, living room, dining area and guest bathroom, as well as a charming private terrace facing the Echegaray Street.

Location, Location, Location

The narrow streets that surround Gran Hotel Inglés are steeped in history, lined with tapas bars, best-in-class restaurants and quirky shopping boutiques. This area is where the city’s theaters opened in courtyards at the end of the 16th century, and where many giants of the Golden Age of Spanish literature, including Cervantes, Lope de Vega and Quevedo, resided. Be it for a cup of hot chocolate with churros in the Plaza del Ángel, a promenade to visit the original home of Cervantes, a late evening visit to the old Botanic Gardens and to buy flowers at the oldest florist in Spain, or drinks and live music with friends at Café Central, one of the best jazz clubs in the world, history lives in these streets, coined the birthplace of Spanish theatre and the arts, and the Gran Hotel Inglés is a custodian of this quintessential madrileño culture. The Barrio de las Letras is one of Madrid’s most central neighborhoods — a dynamic, cultural melting pot studded with monuments — so moving around the Spanish capital and its surrounding areas is simple, no matter the mode of transportation. Gran Hotel Inglés enables its guests to live Madrid’s history in the present day, while effortlessly enjoying all the contemporary delights of this energetic city.

World-Class Gastronomy

Gran Hotel Inglés was the first hotel in Madrid to have its own restaurant. Today, exquisite, traditionally “Madrid” food is served at Casa Lobo, with social open-plan kitchens typically found in the large mansions of the Barrio de las Letras, presided over by the culinary genius, two Michelin star chef Fernando Arellano. The lobby bar, LobByto, comes alive with live music, delicious tapas and sharing plates and smooth cocktails to spill secrets over. Chef Arellano presides over the kitchens at Gran Hotel Inglés with a mission to restore and reinterpret — without changing — some of Madrid’s most delicious recipes. The name “Casa Lobo” originates from the former name of the street on which Gran Hotel Inglés sits, known today as Calle Echegaray — previously Calle del Lobo, translating literally to “Wolf Street.”

A Step Back In Time

A cultural hub that opened in 1853, dubbed the Café Inglés, marks the origin of the hotel. It was not however until July 27, 1886 that La Correspondencia de España announced to its readers “with satisfaction” that the “active and very well-known owner of the Café Inglés, Don Agustín Ibarra, has just acquired a marvellous [sic] house under construction and has the exclusive aim of turning it into a hotel; and on the extremely spacious ground floor he will build a restaurant that is just as good or better than what you can find abroad.” The construction and refurbishment of the building cost Don Agustín some 90,000 pesetas and on December 17, 1886, the Gran Hotel Inglés was officially inaugurated. While the nightly room rate has risen somewhat from the ten pesetas per night charged back in those days, its premise as a home away from home with elegant and restful rooms, multiple private spaces to host intimate functions and gatherings of like-minded folk, a renowned chef and pastry chef, an excellent local and international wine list and so much more, still remains.

For more information, visit granhotelingles.com.