URSO Hotel & Spa Madrid review: a real sense of retreat in Spain’s stylish capital

URSO Hotel & Spa is located where the upmarket districts of Chamberí, Tribunal, and Chueca intersect, far enough from the tourist trail in Madrid. The early 20th century building, designed by Spanish architect José María Mendoza Ussía, is all clean lines and symmetry on the outside – calm, modern and dripping with grandeur. Inside, many of the original features from its early incarnation as home to Papelera Española, Spain’s dominant paper company during the 20th century, remain – the raised central patio where one now takes breakfast, bathed in light and surrounded by living moss walls, to the stained glass windows, decorative tiles and slick marble.

The central staircase winds around a glamorous, traditional cage lift replete with double doors and a seat for two passengers. The muted, earth-tone color palette throughout the interiors, along with subtle prints and natural touches from plants and flowers, create a real sense of retreat despite its city location.

Rooms continue the muted color scheme, decked out in soft greys, light blues and sea greens; they’re high-ceilinged, airy and ultra-comfortable; enormous beds with sumptuous, top notch linens take center-stage. Huge windows flood the rooms with Madrid’s wonderful natural light. Ours looked out onto stunning well-kempt gardens whilst top floor suites have their own terraces to take in the view.

Eating and drinking

Media Ración Restaurant (meaning a half-portion – ask for this in any tapas bar if you want more, smaller plates) is the hotel’s buzzy version of the legendary Madrid brasserie, Cuenllas. It features some of the best Spanish produce – Don Bocarte Anchovies and Iberico Jamon for example – and Madrid’s famous Callos Madrilenos, a tripe stew for the more adventurous eater.

Madrid is on the cutting edge of gastronomy. There’s something for everyone here – finding a local spot for a cana (a tiny beer) and a tapa involves not much more than looking left and right on any given street, with food that is delicious, inexpensive and generous. The city has no less than 21 Michelin-starred restaurants if you fancy splashing out.

The hotel is well sited for a gentle looping stroll to take in a bunch of great tapas spots; of particular note is local haunt Casa Toni – grab yourself a spot at the counter; from the tiniest kitchen imaginable comes an array of tapas classics – rounds of crispy, fresh calamari, grilled secreto iberico with padron peppers (a thin hidden cut of pork, served pink, from the famous Iberian pigs from which jamon iberico is made), platters of grilled wild mushrooms and huevos revueltos – fried potatoes with chorizo ​​and broken eggs. Don’t miss the salmorejo – a slightly heavier cousin of gazpacho.

Casa Juan is a Madrid stalwart. It’s huge, spanning four floors, with all the food coming from a mad-house of a kitchen (have a peer in to your left as you enter the restaurant). Its speciality is slow-roasted meats but the chefs are deft fryers, too – the fried hake would make the best fish and chip shop envious, with light and airy batter with flakey and perfectly cooked fish inside. It has a selection of huge bits of beef – but be warned, not all “medium-rares” are created equal; ask for it to be cooked a step further than your usual. Bookings are a must for this Spanish family favorite – it’s great to feel like you’re somewhere the locals eat but it does get very busy.

Casa Labra, close to the Puerta Del Sol, is an institution; opened in 1860, it was the birthplace of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. Stop by to drink in some of its rich history, a small glass of house red and get stuck into some croquetas and a few hunks of fried cod.

The spa and pool at URSO Hotel & Spa in Madrid

What to do

URSO Spa is a haven of subtle hues, dark wood and a trickle of daylight that means you can lose yourself for hours. The small-but-perfectly-formed hydrotherapy pool, and the entire spa itself, is a lesson in how to use space well. A calming retreat from the streets outside, we found we had the place to ourselves on several occasions. A hammam was perfect for warming the bones during an unusually cold patch of weather. Due to Covid restrictions, you need to call ahead to book a spot.

The hotel is located just a couple of minutes from the Alonso Martínez Metro station. Madrid is easily navigable and in fairly good nick by subway standards.

The city is home to one of the world’s finest art galleries, the Museo Nacional del Prado. It houses the works of many artists but one of its most prized works is Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych representing man’s weakness in resisting earth pleasures… we spent a while devouring its devilish detail. Buy tickets online ahead of time to save yourself a short queue. Right next door is the 125-acre Retiro Park, a verdant haven in the heart of the city – this and the Prado form a single Unesco World Heritage site and are a great way to spend half a day.

For those wanting to shop, but are after a more local experience, El Rastro Flea Market is the city’s large and oldest open air market and the best spot to hunt down a bargain – vintage leatherware, ceramics, art and homewares sit alongside stalls serving hot food and bands playing live music.

URSO Hotel & Spa Madrid

Price and how to book

Rooms at URSO Hotel & Spa Madrid start from € 359 (about £ 300) per night on a room only basis. Book online at hotelurso.com

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