The updated Principal Madrid Hotel features a rooftop terrace that's a magnet for stylish locals.
The sleekly refurbished and rebranded Principal Madrid Hotel emerged as a rising star of the city’s night life in the spring of 2015 after getting new management and a major makeover by Único Hotels. It had spent years off the radar despite its stellar location at the junction of Madrid’s trendy Chueca neighborhood and bustling Gran Via.
Enhancing the Principal’s appeal to both travelers and locals are panoramic views of Madrid’s famously ebullient architecture along Gran Via. For this reason, public areas like the understated lobby and restaurant are on the top floor, with all terraces and balconies optimized for dining and drinking. The sprawling rooftop terrace has become a magnet for stylish Madrileños in summer.
Matching the spectacular scenery is a newly added high tea and artisanal cocktails, not to mention a modern Mediterranean menu by Ramón Freixa, who has two Michelin stars at his namesake restaurant at the sister Hotel Único across town.
From about 260 euros (about $290).
Steps off Gran Via (the Broadway of Madrid), the Principal is tucked into a quiet street leading into gallery- and restaurant-dense Chueca. The Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and many other museums and cultural centers are nearby. With the lobby six flights up, arriving in the small and discreet street entrance — painted a steely gunmetal and hung with 19th-century portraits — feels like stepping into a private club.
Muted gray walls and upholstery, accented with some pale wood tables, rich brown leather chairs and the odd bench or stool in marigold velvet, give the rooms a well-heeled, urbane vibe. On the walls are clusters of figure drawings in pen and ink, reinforcing the black, gray and white and enhancing the feeling of being in a private domain.
Even the smallest rooms have several seating options (sofas, armchairs and desk chairs) besides sitting on the bed. For a premium, the best views — of the busy junction of Gran Via and Calle Alcalá and the famous sculpture-topped cupola of the frothy beaux-arts Metropolis building in the middle — can be seen from the sitting rooms of the junior suites.
In keeping with the crisp ’80s look of the rooms, the ample bathrooms are a celebration of black and white tile, with large rain showers and Gilchrist & Soames toiletries. Not all rooms have tubs, but anyone who requests a crib in the room will find an inflatable child’s tub in the bathroom as well.
The hotel has an above-average fitness room with treadmills and stationary bikes as well as dumbbells, Fitballs and other equipment. There is a separate sauna and a treatment room for massages. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, and the guest rooms have Nespresso machines and a selection of teas.
The expansive buffet breakfast can be eaten in the restaurant, Ático, in the bar or library, or it can be taken up to the rooftop. Freixa’s deftly updated take on Spanish cuisine has been such a hit that this summer, dinner service is now available on the roof as well as in the restaurant. Room service is available 24 hours, as is a limited menu of snacks and drinks in the library and glass-walled galleria overlooking Gran Via.
Combining comfort and style in the rooms with a prime address for business, culture and night life, the Principal has a lot going for it. For guests who like rubbing shoulders with a steady stream of Madrid’s creative class, just head up to the roof.