Ten fascinating facts about Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

From its regal history to its rousing art collection, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid (formerly The Ritz) has a characterful past and equally fascinating present. Following the most extensive renovation in its history, we take a look at ten astonishing facts about this most distinguished hotel


1. Royal roots


King Alfonso XIII, the reigning monarch at the time, was instrumental in the conception of the original hotel, which opened in 1910. Inspired by his travels across Europe, the king became determined to modernise the city, ensuring Madrid was of equal stature to other capitals across the continent for visiting guests and dignitaries. With this in mind, he set to work on his mission, becoming a major shareholder in the Ritz Development Company. The result? The acquisition of the grounds of the renowned Tivoli Theatre and Pleasure Gardens where the hotel stands today.


2. Stately service


The hotel has always been popular with the royals, and the aptly named Royal Suite was consistently first choice. This resplendent room, adorned with chandeliers and an impressive ceiling mural, retains its original location within one of the first-floor turrets. When the hotel was first built, royals were often housed on the lower floors to save them taking the stairs. While the installation of lifts has resolved this issue, the Royal Suite has always been popular with the hotel’s most distinguished guests, from Yves Saint Laurent to the Emperor of Japan.


3. Musical moments


Acclaimed musicians, actors and composers have frequented The Ritz over the years, leading to some of the most colourful nights at the hotel. Frank Sinatra was a regular visitor and famously played for Ava Gardner on the bar’s piano. On another of his visits while touring through Madrid, Sinatra was thoroughly disappointed by poor ticket sales for his concert. It was a lucky day for the hotel staff who were all invited to the show that night.


4. Celebrated chef


From illustrious guests to acclaimed colleagues, the renovated hotel’s five restaurants and bars are overseen by chef Quique Dacosta, founder of the eponymous three Michelin-starred restaurant in Dénia. When visiting, be sure to make a reservation at Dacosta’s signature restaurant Deessa, which enjoys glorious garden views and is home to a hidden chef’s table, where diners can experience behind-the-scenes kitchen activity.

5. Discreet dining


In exciting news for gourmets, the restaurant has its own private dining room where parties of up to ten guests can dine with complete discretion. The secret room goes by the name Condesa Masslov, the alias adopted by Dutch spy Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod (better known as Mata Hari) during her stay at the hotel in 1916.


6. French fancy


Charles Mewes, the architect of The Ritz in Paris, submitted the initial plans for the elegant hotel building and you can see a distinct French influence in its design. César Ritz himself was also involved in the creative vision, overseeing the interior décor to his usual immaculate standards. Over a century later, Paris-based design house Gilles & Boissier has given the hotel a refreshed classic-contemporary design, seamlessly blending in with the hotel’s original iconic structure and encapsulating the Belle-Époque style of the building.


7. Leading location


For those looking for a cultural getaway, the hotel stands in an opportune location. Situated within the city’s renowned ‘Triangle of Art’, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid is a stone’s throw from the Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums and just a short walk from the Reina Sofia, so you’ll be gazing at Goyas and marvelling at Mirós in next to no time.


8. Modern masterpieces


Guests do not even have to stray from the hotel for a spot of art. The hotel bar, Pictura, has its own gallery wall – a collage of Old Masters-inspired photographic portraits by local artist Paula Anta. The sitters are all Madrid-based artists and creators, too, forming a thoughtful collection that simultaneously contemplates the more traditional arts and looks ahead to those shaping the modern-day scene.


9. Crystal canopy


As you step into the hotel’s lobby, take a peek at the Palm Court (and then stop by again for afternoon tea, later). The dazzling crystal canopy ceiling, lost for 80 years, has undergone an extensive renovation guided by César Ritz’s original drawings and plans. An impressive sight, the completed space makes an idyllic setting for a cucumber sandwich, the finest ibérico ham and glass of bubbly.


10. Serene spa


Descend into the hotel’s basement and you’ll discover a haven of tranquillity – a marble-adorned sanctuary, complete with vitality pool, steam room and an irresistible spa treatment menu. For the ultimate pampering experience, opt for the four-handed massage and bliss out as two expert therapists work their magic.