Why book? This new-wave hotel offers proof that opulence and discretion needn’t be contradictory. It exudes serious class, but also understated character. The competition among Madrid hotels is stiff, but in a matter of months the Four Seasons already has the tightly geared rhythm of a hotel that’s been around for years, not months. Set the scene Standing as it does within a few steps of the Puerta del Sol, a major visitor hub, you’d expect locals to stay away. In fact the opposite has happened: while international tourism faltered, a madrileño clientele has taken the hotel to its heart, giving it the proper Spanish flavor of a local landmark. The backstory In a project of fearsome complexity and eye-watering expense, seven historic buildings (including various bank HQs and a newspaper office) were melded together to form Centro Canalejas, a powerhouse of luxury containing a commercial ‘gallery’, gastro-market and 22 private residences, plus the new Four Seasons. Coming from a large global chain you might expect a certain corporate sameness in the hotel. In fact it has style and personality in spades. The rooms Even the fussiest will be hard-pressed to find fault with them. Solid walnut floors, marble and chrome, plenty of mirrors; this is grown-up glamour. Ditto the brands you’ll encounter (Hermés amenities, Villeroy & Boch china, Roederer champagne). Best of all, sound-proofing throughout the hotel is state-of-the-art—a serious plus in a neighborhood still rife with construction sites. Food and drink The hotel’s main culinary mise en scène is the clubby and colorful locale on the top floor where chef Dani Garcia offers his personal take on southern Spanish ingredients and techniques: his langoustine carpaccio with pine nuts, payoyo cheese and ajo blanco ice cream with a Pedro Ximénez reduction is Andalucía on a plate. Try it with an aged manzanilla pasada from the extensive sherry list. Failing that, a room-service platter of 100 percent acorn-fed iberico ham and a bowl of chilled gazpacho will do nicely. The spa At over 15,000 square feet over three floors, this is said to be Spain’s largest urban spa. The heated rooftop pool, glassed over for year-round use, is a place of calm and wide-screen urban views. The neighborhood The streets around Puerta del Sol, though ripe for improvement, harbor some of the city’s most alluring sights: the Real Academia de San Fernando (don’t miss the Goyas) is just across the street, the Prado a ten-minute stroll away. In this slice of old Madrid classic restaurants (Lhardy, Terraza del Casino), historic bars (Casa Labra) and heritage food shops (Casa Mira, for the best turrones) are legion. In a welcome sign of positive change in the barrio, a new branch of Javier Bonet’s super-cool Sala de Despiece restaurant is imminent. The service Pitch-perfect and utterly professional, amiable and un-starchy, with a true Spanish flair. Chief concierge Raul Bermejo organizes visits to guitar and fan workshops, and private tours of the Prado. For families Both children (and small dogs) are welcome, but the hotel feels aimed largely at a mature client who likes everything to be just so. Eco effort The hotel has a Gold certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for building quality and sustainable practices. One quibble: the room-service option thoughtfully offering ‘earth-friendly takeaway packaging’ turns out to be no more than a set of compostable cutlery. Anything left to mention? The artwork at the Four Seasons is a particular treat. Displayed in rooms, corridors and public spaces are more than 2000 works by young Spanish artists curated by Paloma Fernández Iriondo. (A pity they’re mostly unlabelled.)
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