10 Jul2010

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Manhattan. Madrid. Marrakech. This was the MM family Summer Holiday 2010 itinerary. After an uneventful flight from New York to Madrid, we cleared customs in the early morning hours and made a beeline for our hotel downtown. The Palace Hotel would be our home for the next week or so, and it was wonderful, if a bit on the “establishment” side… Several months prior to our trip, we had been scouting around for a nice hotel, and contacted several mid-to upper-range boutique hotels which all turned out to be unable to accommodate us. This was before that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano blew up and seriously affected the European tourist season this spring/summer. So a bit concerned that we had no confirmed hotel reservations, we decided to pick one of the larger and generally well thought off hotels in Madrid, right in the heart of the Museum district. This turned out to be a terrific choice, as the Teen was hobbling around in an aircast after breaking a bone in her foot a few days before the trip…

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Located at the Plaza de las Cortes, across the street from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Ritz Hotel and a stone’s throw from the Prado museum, this disarmingly large hotel took up a cake wedge shaped city block with avenues and streets on all sides. With just 8 or 9 floors and nearly 500 rooms, this is supposed to be the less flashy sidekick to the Hotel Ritz just across the circle. Some friends from the Spanish diplomatic core described The Ritz as the place “you booked the celebrities and Presidents of (less powerful left unsaid) nations while the Ministers and less flashy guests were checked into The Palace…” I smiled when they related this unsolicited tidbit, as unbeknownst to them while they were on assignment in South America, GMA had just recently been to Spain, and her party of 50+ mostly booked themselves at the Ritz. :)

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Selected as one of the Best Hotels in World 2010 by Conde Nast Traveler (not necessarily a list I agree with all of the time), it must have still been snazzy enough to attract some unnamed celebrities as the front of the hotel was covered by a pack of papparazzi during the first two days of our stay. I pointed them out to the Teen, who had never seen papparazzi before, and frankly, I would hate to be the subject of their telephoto lenses, total overkill since they were positioned just 5 meters away from the main entrance of the hotel. Tight lipped hotel staff never let on who the celebrity guests were and we never shared tight elevator space with anyone notorious…

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The lobby and other public areas were a bit dated, and boring despite the detailing, and it felt a bit too public what with several function rooms constantly playing host to one large meeting after another. The exception was the dining area under the massive glass dome (of which I don’t have a picture) that was pretty impressive. The hotel, built in 1912, is 98 years old, and I suspect glass domes were a big deal in the early 20th century. The center of the triangular city block was open air I gather, so all hotel rooms had windows with external light…

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The hotel had some of the widest hallways I have seen, you almost got the feeling they were designed that way so that two sets of couples walking towards each other would have sufficient room to pass, a four lane pedestrian way, if you will. And billowing skirts on the women taken into account as well.

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Our room was terrific. A result of using American Express to reserve it, as well as the relatively long stay, the early confirmation and full advance payment, they upgraded us to one of the nicest rooms in that category, a Junior Suite with an entry hallway, large sitting room, comfortable bedroom, a separate dressing room and enormous bathroom. It was easily bigger than two standard hotel rooms, and cost less than that. Several huge windows in our suite faced a nearby church.

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Classic furnishings, several televisions, good lighting all made for an extremely comfortable stay for three of us.

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An extra roll-away bed was brought in for The Teen. Breakfasts featured a huge continental buffet and all was indeed well and good on the accommodation front…

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I am not sure what it is about properly outfitted hotel rooms, but they are so quiet and conducive to simply vegetating… Just when you are supposed to get out there and see the sights…

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The bathroom in this near corner rooms was simply enormous. Double sinks, large bathtub, separate toilet and shower and a long corridor to link it all.

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The only serious downside? Euro18 a day ($22!) for internet connection PER computer. That was simply outrageous. At a Starbucks around the corner, we only had to purchase Euro 3 worth of coffee and snacks each to get free internet access… So you can guess how we managed to go online while in Madrid! And with a view of this spectacular fountain and rotunda while you sipped your coffee or tea, we all thought THAT was a good deal. :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. discount hotel reservations says:

    You have beautiful pictures except that you missed to take a photo of the dining area that you described as pretty impressive. Their internet connection charge is just so expensive. It should have been free considering that you stayed there for several days, I suppose.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 3:21 pm

     
  2. glenn says:

    A bathroom scale, just outside the shower,would certainly limit my vacation dining.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 3:22 pm

     
  3. Mangaranon says:

    The Palace and Ritz are nice but they are downtown. We usually stay at the Villa Magna which is right on Calle Serrano.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 3:29 pm

     
  4. EJ says:

    Great choice! A beautiful hotel in a very central location – and a nearby Starbucks with the Plaza de Cibeles fountain as view ;-) It will be crazy at the plaza tomorrow as that’s where the football fans gather for their celebrations.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 3:34 pm

     
  5. zaN says:

    Wow! Is there a chance some of your avid fans/readers could tag along? Once, you found a great deal like this one, advertise it to your readers and maybe, just maybe, they too would want to experience a luxurious vacation. But I guess, you want an exclusive family vacation.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 3:37 pm

     
  6. bearhug0127 says:

    Oh, MM, did you get to have your breakfasts in the hotel? Just asking….. LOL. I just remembered your other post about the breakfast thingy some posts back.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 4:34 pm

     
  7. Betchay says:

    So the teen was the one with the broken leg…..I hope she enjoyed the trip despite her condition.Get well soon, Teen and enjoy the rest of your summer vacation.
    MM, I really like your travel posts.Waiting for more…..

    Jul 10, 2010 | 5:42 pm

     
  8. marilen says:

    Great location! nearby, the Prado, Thyssen Bornemitza and the Reina Sofia museums!! My first visit to Madrid in 1974!! (dates me) what an eyeopener it was to stand at a tapas bar in the heart of Plaza del Sol and see people just drop food tidbits and napkins on the floor. It was a ‘que horror’ moment, but then early, very early the next morning (bar connected to our hotel) to see Spanish women on hands and knees cleaning and soaping the marble floors of the bar and public areas of all detritus! Viva Espana!!

    Jul 10, 2010 | 7:44 pm

     
  9. jquint says:

    These days I bring a really small wifi router so we only have to pay for one internet connection and just share it among our laptops. Best if the internet is wired, but with a little fiddling, even wifi can be shared.

    Jul 10, 2010 | 10:05 pm

     
  10. jtan says:

    I have stayed in that neighborhood in a more economy level 3-star hotel (Hotel Prado). Free internet. Great convenient neighborhood, even near Atocha train station. The lovely old train station with a little indoor oasis garden where I took the hi-speed to Barcelona. In contrast with the new St Pancras Station in London (Eurostar station to Paris) which is a beautiful re-creation with old and new.

    Jul 11, 2010 | 2:45 am

     
  11. Connie C says:

    Tapas, cochinillo, gypsies being chased, Goya ( La Maja Desnuda) at the Prado and flamenco was the Madrid in the late 70’s for me. Like Marilen, I had many of those “que horror” moments as waiters wiped droppings, napkins off counters and tables and I wondered, couldn’t they have dropped them onto their hands or napkins, then they would have to sweep less often nor would tourists like me drag crumbs everywhere with my footwear. And we stopped at just about every corner bar as my husband OD’d on Spanish espresso. We left Madrid with the takatakatak of the flamenco still ringing in my ears. And yes, I think I bought a pair of footwear too.

    Jul 11, 2010 | 6:27 am

     
  12. Jen Laceda says:

    what a lovely hotel! love the classic look!

    Jul 12, 2010 | 4:50 am

     
  13. Lava Bien says:

    I love Madrid. It’s clean like nobody in Manila would ever imagine a city could look like. One can take a picture infront of just any building around the Plaza Mayor.

    Vale! Venga! MM.

    Jul 12, 2010 | 10:43 pm

     
  14. Lava Bien says:

    Yes, MM. I even took a nap on them tourist buses (3 lines) as they just go around all day. I had my hat and sunglasses on while taking a nap but no obvious cameras dangling on my neck just my very small daypack. Even my host family was proud of me as I was enjoying Madrid like a local hehehehe then we had to go back to Salamanca( yup just doing weekend trips to Madrid)

    Jul 12, 2010 | 10:49 pm

     
  15. NYCMama says:

    Just back from Manila where I had a discussion with my sister re our best hotel breakfast yet, and it was at The Palace Hotel in Madrid! Too bad you were not there anymore after Spain won the World Cup?

    Jul 15, 2010 | 1:38 am

     
  16. terrey says:

    it’s always a delight to read your travels. thanks!

    Jul 15, 2010 | 12:03 pm

     
  17. cagayan de oro hotels says:

    I’ve been around places, stayed in different hotels, but this one is very exquisite. This hotel surely makes you feel like royalty, definitely lives up to its name “The Palace”. Very awesome blog!

    Jul 15, 2010 | 3:16 pm

     
 

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