Above: The view of The Principal, right, in Madrid

Madrid on the Upswing

The financial crisis of 2008 hobbled the Spanish economy, but a decade later, Madrid has recovered much of its dynamism. Perennially vying with Barcelona for the title of Spain’s gastronomic capital, it is currently in the midst of a restaurant boom. The city’s hotel scene is also thriving. The venerable Hotel Ritz Madrid closed for a $121 million renovation in February and will reopen as a Mandarin Oriental property next year. And a new Four Seasons is slated to open on the Gran Via, the city’s main avenue, in 2019. Several distinctive and stylish smaller properties are also attracting the interest of hotel cognoscenti.

The Principal

The rooftop lounge at The Principal in Madrid - The Principal

One of the best things about The Principal is its location at the edge of the animated Chueca district, which has lots of one-of-a-kind boutiques, like New York’s Nolita or Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. (Two favorites are Casa Postal [Calle Libertad 37] for vintage posters and Cacao Sampaka [Calle Orellana 4] for offbeat chocolates, including one with a gin-flavored filling.) The hotel opened in 2015, and its 76 rooms occupy several floors of a handsome 1920s building just off the Gran Via.

Ático restaurant at The Principal in Madrid - The Principal

Arriving midmorning, we took the private elevator up to reception on the sixth floor, where we received a notably cordial welcome from a smartly dressed young front desk clerk. With red-marble floors, cocoa-colored walls, framed portraits, brass chandeliers, leather wing chairs and jewel-toned sofas, the lobby has an easygoing, contemporary chic. Spanish friends had told me that the hotel is popular with Madrid’s fashion and showbiz crowds, who come for drinks in its rooftop terrace bar and dinner at its excellent restaurant, Ático. (There, chef Ramón Freixa creates contemporary Spanish cuisine, with dishes like an appetizer of a creamy omelet of baby cuttlefish and whitebait, and mains such as roasted suckling pig with vanilla-flavored endive.)

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