Where to stay in Madrid
What's so special
For Spanish opulence and tradition, book into the Ritz. This hotel has been the city’s grandest since it opened in 1910. Originally built according to the wishes of King Alfonso XIII, it’s been home to visiting aristocracy ever since.
How they rate it
Despite renovations, the Ritz has hung onto “a lot of its original features; expect classic luxury at every turn”, says Annie Bennett in The Daily Telegraph. “Sumptuous carpets made down the road at the Royal Tapestry Factory ensure that every step you take is in cushioned comfort.” All 167 rooms and suites are different. Some have balconies, “others have chandeliers and silk canopies over the bed, and most are furnished with antiques and decorated with original artworks”. The price tag means the Ritz isn’t a budget option, “but you do feel you are getting your money’s worth”.
The hotel’s Goya restaurant is “one of the best in the city”. The menu is modern Spanish. Be sure to book in for the “legendary” Sunday brunch.
Double rooms start from £270 per night. For more information, visit the website at www.ritzmadrid.com, or telephone 00 34 91 701 67 67.
Casa de Madrid
What's so special
If you prefer to stay somewhere small and intimate, or if you want luxury alongside a smaller bill, check into this boutique hotel in a converted 18th-century townhouse. It is also in a fantastic location, right in the city centre.
How they rate it
Casa de Madrid overlooks the Opera House. “Artist and collector Marta Medina has filled the townhouse with an exquisite jumble of objets d’art,” says Condé Nast Traveller. The seven bedrooms are all unique and styled geographically – “the Indian room being the most sought-after”. Other rooms include Greek Agora and Japan. “Refined, extravagantly decorated rooms make this a luxurious choice overlooking the Teatro Real, says Lonely Planet. “It’s difficult not to feel like royalty here. It’s a little like staying at the Ritz, but without the price tag.”
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant. However, the staff are happy to serve light meals in your room. Drinks are served every evening in the bar, so you can enjoy an aperitif before heading out for dinner.
A double room costs from £130. To find out more, visit the website at www.casademadrid.com, or telephone 00 34 660 34 24 27.
Great holidays for sports fans
If the Olympics have inspired you to get fit, why not combine a bit of exercise with a holiday? Here are some good places to do just that, as rounded up by Mark Hodson in The Times.
Jeremy Bates, the former British tennis number one, runs camps at Carlisle Bay in Antigua. Unlike some other academies run by former sports professionals, Bates isn’t just a name above the door: he spends four hours every day on court, feeding you volleys and helping improve your game. The Jeremy Bates Tennis week is “an intimate affair”, with only eight guests, and Hodson “noticed the improvement immediately”. Seven night packages from £1,899 per person (Carlisle-bay.com), excluding flights.
At the Royal Riding School in Jerez, Andalucia, you’ll be taught dressage by Rafael Soto, an Olympic silver medallist. The six-day course is held four times a year and costs £1,855 per person, including nine lessons (four with Soto), accommodation and most meals (Equestrian-escapes.com).
Rugby fans might prefer a stay at the Forte Village Resort in Sardinia (pictured). The rugby academy is held during school holidays for children aged five to 16. “It’s run by an impressive line-up of former England players,” including Martin Johnson and Austin Healey. Seven nights’ half-board for two adults and two under-12s sharing a room costs around £4,599 (Superskillstravel.com).