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Bleisure-restless in Madrid

“You plan a relaxed weekend trip to Madrid after a business meeting and only realise after arriving that the weekend must be quite long to explore just a fraction of it.” Kai Böcking

The art, the food, the joie de vivre and the many traditions of Madrid – for me, this already comes together at the Westin Palace Madrid, just a few metres from the Mandarin Oriental Ritz. At least historically, this magnificent building is a formidable sight. Opened in 1912, it was the first hotel in Spain with a private bathroom in every room and a telephone. It’s not surprising that big stars like Pablo Picasso, Buster Keaton and Igor Stravinsky came here, even if not at the same time.

Those who want to see, breathe and taste the history of the hotel should go to the “1912 Museo Bar” for a martini or two, old fashion or whisky sour and let their eyes wander over the glass cabinets full of memories, photos and relics of these great grand hotel times.

Great floor creaking

If you walk past the enormous reception and climb the stairs, you reach La Rotonda: its round glass dome, the baroque design and the enormous chandelier take the illustrious guest Zack back to the Golden Twenties. Plum and lime green are the colours of the upholstery, white the massive stucco on the columns and ceilings -– here, a befitting breakfast with opulent service is offered in the morning, for me an old tradition that I simply love.

La Rotonda is also a good place to eat, but I would also recommend a trip to the nearby Asia Gallery restaurant. Far from China, it serves delicious dim sum, Peking duck and other Asian delicacies in sumptuous surroundings.

If you continue to walk through the hotel, you will be accompanied by a great creaking of the floors on incredibly wide hotel corridors. That’s when you realise how claustrophobic some corridors in a modern five-star hotel can be. And the rooms with their double doors: mine is a junior suite with two huge rooms, a dressing room, marble bathroom, light-coloured furniture and a huge bed with a view over Madrid from the small balcony. There is little in the way of modern frills here. But for people like me, who also have to work in such an environment, everything the bleisure traveller’s heart desires is there: fast internet, enough charging possibilities for laptop & co., a large desk or optionally the cosy couch corner. For me, the Westin Palace Hotel has been well tempered into the new millennium here at the latest. Conscious of tradition, committed to today.

 Pure Madrid remains

For me, perfect with a visit to the Chocolatería San Ginés to dip the hot churros in the not at all slim chocolate. Then it’s on to the art mile, past the many street art corners and behind the Plaza Mayor to the Sobrino de Botín restaurant, where the art of serving a suckling pig in tiled dining rooms has been celebrated since 1725. Delicious tapas are again available at Jamones López Pascual, among others, and finally the traditional vermuth at Taberna de Angel Sierra – the bar looks a bit run-down, but the dozens of vermuths are a blast. As I said, a normal Bleisure weekend is not enough for Madrid.

Kai Böcking …

after a long absence, Madrid was no longer on his radar and he was now all the more surprised by the old and new opportunities in the Spanish capital. Logically, he wants to come back soon.

At a glance

Getting there: From Madrid-Barajas airport it is only 18 kilometres to the hotel, which means it takes less than 20 minutes by car to get to the hotel, and a similar amount of time by metro. If you arrive by train at Madrid Atocha station, you can walk 15 minutes through Madrid to the hotel or take the metro for the same amount of time.
Hotel: The Westin Palace Hotel, Madrid was commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912 and is located in the famous Art Walk. 470 rooms meet the restaurant La Rotonda with its stained glass dome and the 1912 Museo Bar. The Asia Gallery and the Green T Sushi Bar have a Far Eastern touch. There is also a spa.
Working places in the Hotel: on the roof terrace, in the suite, at La Rotonda
Adresse: The Westin Palace, Madrid, Pl. de las Cortes, 7, 28014 Madrid, Spanien, Tel. +34 913608000

Fotos: © iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto (Head), The Westin Palace – Adolfo Rancano / Adolforancano.com