Chic Sleep: The Principal, Madrid
In the heart of Madrid, The Principal offers an eclectic fusion of historic grandeur and urban hedonism. By Freddie Braun
Blending in seamlessly with the elegant Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings that line the Gran Vía, possibly the most well-connected street of the Spanish capital, this grande dame hotel is a mere stone’s throw away from world-renowned museums (the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofía to name a few), as well as the city’s landmark destinations like Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Independencia and Círculo de Bellas Artes. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to taking in all Madrid has to offer, but for a more curated experience, The Principal’s concierge can organize everything from a last-minute table at Madrid’s hottest restaurant, Glass Mar, to queue jumping at the CaixaForum galleries and the insider track on the city’s best flamenco bars, like Cardamomo.
These external distractions are all well and good, but only if you’re able to actually leave the urban cocoon of this Spanish Renaissance-style hotel. With 76 bedrooms (including four suites), all in the signature style of Pilar García-Nieto – think marble floors, velvet curtains and a sweeping collection of objets d’art – not to mention the hip rooftop bar La Terraza and a fine-dining restaurant, The Principal has become a sought-after hub for the fashion and media jet set.
Located within the penthouse and towering over the city, you’ll find Ático, the hotel’s much-publicized restaurant, headed up by prestigious, Michelin-starred chef Ramón Freixa. Enjoy classic Iberian dishes with a twist (you won’t want to miss the potato ravioli stuffed with shrimp and Ganxet white beans) as you take in the expansive views of the Gran Vía below.
Founded in 1755 by King Ferdinand VI, Madrid’s spectacular Royal Botanical Gardens offer a leafy oasis of calm with 20 acres of land, 30,000 flowers and plants, a herbarium and rotating art exhibitions by the picturesque Villanueva Pavilion.
Lively, open-air flea market El Rastro (‘The Trail’) is located in Madrid’s historic center, near the popular Calle Ribera de Curtidores. Open on Sundays and public holidays, it specializes in antiques and rare vintage finds.
There is no better way to unwind after a long day’s excursions than sipping on a signature Divoca cocktail – a delicious concoction of vodka, lemon juice, Disaronno, blueberry juice, cinnamon and ginger ale – on The Principal’s seventh-floor La Terraza bar overlooking the cityscape of ‘El Foro’ below.