Designed by 18th century architect Juan de Villanueva, of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor and Prado museum, Palacio de Tepa opened in 2010 under NH Hotels’ premium Collection brand, which distinguishes itself through properties set in characterful, “landmark buildings, steeped in history”. Also a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts’ LVX Collection, the hotel fits the criteria, once home to the viceroy of Mexico, and the meeting place of various figures of the Spanish enlightenment, where they would discuss literature and the arts. Today, it is one of seven NH Collection properties in Madrid.
What’s it like
The hotel contrasts its historic setting with sleek and contemporary interiors, using glossy materials and edgy furnishings such as marble floors, chainmail chandeliers and bold, Jackson Pollock-esque compositions on wall-length canvases. Next to reception under a glass viewing platform lies the hotel’s prized attraction –the remains of Madrid’s ancient hydraulic supply system, which features the same cistern from when the building served as a palace. Illuminated by atmospheric spotlighting, guests can peer into the wells and channels below their feet and read up on the underground water network on the walls above.
On the floors above, the property’s original vaulted ceilings and balconies were preserved in the original restoration, along with two whitewashed interior courtyards which flood the halls and corridors with natural light.
I was checked in at around 5pm by a friendly receptionist whose English was impeccable. I was offered a map of the city and shown where we were in relation to major attractions before being led up to my room on the fifth floor. My bag was brought up separately around ten minutes later.
Where is it?
In Madrid’s central Las Letras district, the hotel is on Calle San Sebastián near the lively Calle Huertas (known for its galleries, boutiques and jazz bars) – and five minutes from the capital’s main station Atocha, which operates a raft of regional services including Barcelona, Seville, Malaga and Valencia.
Spread across five floors, the hotel has 83 rooms split into four room categories. Entry-level Deluxe rooms start at 25 sqm, and feature large Madrileno windows and standing balconies, plus modern amenities such as a Nespresso coffee machine, a kettle, a safe and free wifi. An iron and ironing board are available on request. Rooms are warmly decorated with a caramel and white colour scheme, taupe, textured fabrics and timber floors, and come with a 46-inch Philips TV, a minibar and free wifi. Clad in Travertine Italian marble, 95 per cent of the hotel’s bathrooms come with tubs, a requisite for five star properties in Spain, with rainfall shower heads, hairdryers and the brand’s signature toiletries. Upper room categories can request extra amenities including scented candles, bath salts and pumice stones.
I stayed in a 25 sqm Premium room, which had a lovely exposed timber roof and skylight, a lounge area with a sofa and red armchair, a desk and a plush king-size bed. There was also a small reception area from which the bathroom led into, with plenty of wardrobe space and the minibar. The bathroom was spacious and well lit, with a tub, magnifying mirror, hairdryer, bathrobes, scales and toiletries.
Restaurants and bars
On the ground floor the hotel has an elegant restaurant that serves a continental breakfast with premium cold cuts, fresh fruit and local pastries. Piping hot tureens with scrambled and fried eggs, sausages and beans are kept warm on a hot plate, and you can ask the kitchen to freshly prepare eggs in whichever style you’d like.
On the second floor are three high-ceilinged rooms with marble floors and classical columns, and walls decorated with artwork by Spanish masters including Mariscal and Miró. The rooms are frequently used for board meetings, and can accommodate up to 60 people altogether. During its palace years, the second floor was where nobles slept and the lofty ceilings and room size have been preserved, with a number of suites housed on this floor.
A compact, 24-hour gym is on the first floor, offering treadmills, bikes and weights, but the hotel has an agreement with the nearby Metropolitan Health Club so that guests can use the more spacious gym, and spa for €18 a day. Massage and beauty treatments are also available in a first floor treatment room upon demand.
The hotel benefits from an excellent location, and the language skills and knowledge of the staff were equally impressive. It has done a good job of using the building’s history and architecture to its advantage, while the spacious rooms and modern facilities were welcome features to return to after a busy day in the city.
Calle de San Sebastián, 2, 28012 Madrid, Spain; tel +34 91 3896490