If it's good enough for DiCaprio...

August 22, 2014
As far as a landmark goes, a distinctive white tower rising above the city’s urban canopy is pretty impressive. Granted, Madrid isn’t known for its forest of skyscrapers, but there is something instantly striking about arriving at Plaza de Santa Ana, in the very heart of the city, and seeing the spire above the ME Madrid’s imposing wedding cake-esque façade. The stunning, white-brushed, ornate stone exterior commands an almost regal respect compared to the other buildings nearby, but the dramatic façade belies the lively, modern boutique hotel that exists behind its revolving doors. The Spanish capital is famed for its array of fashionable bars and slick restaurants, but not necessarily the hotels to match – most tend to be either of the grand heritage ilk or cheap and cheerful traveller hostels. So it is little wonder why the international jet-setting elite and the city’s trendy, next generation of internet millionaires have turned the ME Madrid into the city’s hottest hotel. Originally built in 1923, in the city’s lively literary quarter of Santa Ana, the building has undergone several transformations – from palace to hotel to casino, and perhaps, most notably, eight years ago when it was converted into its current state by the Melia Espana hotel group. [gallery link="none" ids="7174,7175,7173"] Completely renovated by architect Keith Hobbs and his United Designers team, the entire interior of the hotel was transformed from the rather stayed Reina Victoria hotel – that was popular with the city’s matadors – into a much more progressive and modern spot. Out went the old bullfighting memorabilia, to be replaced with custom-made designer furniture, eclectic accessories and innovative works of art. The hotel’s relatively small, but sleek, rooms are almost bachelor-pad like, with quirky flourishes inserted almost purely for the sake of being conversation starters. The Eames lounge chair and ottoman; the ‘sexy’ purple mood light switch in the bedroom; the Smeg-style ‘maxi’ bar fridge; black bathrobes; and the David Bowie quote stamped on the bathroom mirror – all reveal the playful side of a hotel that not only wants to stand out from its competition, but also wants its guests to not take things too seriously. And they’re right. Taking things seriously and the Spanish lifestyle aren’t natural bedfellows. During the week it seems as though almost every restaurant in the surrounding area is heaving with smarty dressed senoras and caballeros who have no qualms with their extended business lunches rolling into evening drinks, with innumerable tapas platters brought to the table in constant circulation. Plaza Santa Ana has always been a popular social area, where people including Spain’s most celebrated author, Cervantes, used to wine and dine. Some 500 years on, the square is still vibrant and filled with tables of tapas, lazy boozy lunchers and smiling dog walkers. In fact, with the stylish and creative crowd that frequent the ME Madrid’s wonderful Ana la Santa bar and tapas restaurant, on a daily basis, it would be just the kind of place we would expect Cervantes to drop into if he were around today. [gallery link="none" ids="7172,7179,7177"] The private lift next to Ana la Santa leads you right up to the hotel’s roof terrace, which plays host to the city’s most exclusive urban retreat. The white washed décor and decked wooden flooring, creates a feeling that you are overlooking the Mediterranean, rather than the centre of the capital, but that is a moot point as the views are almost as good as the cocktails, both of which attract revelers in their droves – but not before 11pm, we are in Spain after all. Despite Madrid being at the geographical heart of Spain – and therefore several hundred miles from the coast – the original building was constructed to look like a seaside castle. And what is the point of designing a coastal castle without an eye-catching lighthouse tower? This is where you’ll find the hotel’s showpiece room, the Suite ME. Leonardo DiCaprio, Cindy Crawford, George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez are just some of the names that reel off a staff member’s lips – when pushed to name drop some of the recent big stars to have stayed there – and it is not hard to understand why. Spread over two floors the 150sqm suite must be one of the most sought after modern apartments in central Madrid. The impossibly white décor is in sync with the hotel’s other suites and rooms, but as you’d expect they have gone the extra mile with the little touches. An immense bathroom, with an extra large bath, a double shower with hydromassage and individual dressing tables, occupies the central space of the suite and offers a complete selection of a la carte organic spa Apivita amenities. The room is fully equipped with WiFi, iPod docks and video games consoles, and comes with a personal 24-hour concierge service and an event planner for organising business meetings or social get-togethers (with a specific space for a DJ). All that is even before considering the open air terrace with a rooftop Jacuzzi and, of course, the tower room with a 360-degree view of central Madrid – arguably one of the city’s best views. It is only after staying at the ME Madrid for a few days do you start to realize, that it is not the tower that has made this place one of Madrid’s modern day landmarks, it is the hotel itself. [gallery link="none" ids="7176,7178"] Details: for more visit melia.com