I usually hate hearing anything from my hotel room. A light sleeper, the sounds of people above, next door, or outside will put a sour note on my stay.
Except, I recently found myself taking a midday nap with the doors to my balcony wide open and the cacophony of one of Europe’s most famed squares drifting through the breeze-agitated curtains.
And I loved it.
I was in one of the rooms overlooking the Plaza Mayor in Madrid at the just opened Pestana Plaza Mayor, a new addition to the Portuguese hotel group and our latest selection for our series on new hotels, The New Room with a View.
It is the first hotel ever directly on the iconic plaza, and was made by combining and restoring a 17th century Casa de la Carnicería and a fire station. While the rooms are more on the European side than American in terms of size, the showers are large and the rooms do not feel cramped. However, what ensures that you will not care much are the amenities available to all guests.
First there is the rooftop pool—a godsend in Madrid during the summer. Given its location in the heart of the city, the pool has a pretty spectacular sunset over the rooftops.
The second is the transformation Pestana undertook in the vaulted cellars, turning them into a spa and gym (both included in the booking). The spa has a sauna, as well as a chilled pool with soft jets that ended up being my cool oasis of calm after a hot night out. The gym, while compact, is weirdly peaceful with the soft lighting and restored brick vaults.
The new interior of the hotel is lovely, with nothing over the top but neither is it sterile like a lot of modern restorations. There are nods to Spain’s Moorish heritage with arabesque screens and sections of tiles and stained glass original to the buildings have been preserved, as have the monumental stairs at the Plaza Mayor entrance (which is a guests only entrance, the lobby for taxi access reasons is on a quieter side street). And the central glass-covered courtyard with lush plants provides a great location for a glass of wine or some meats from the hotel’s restaurant (everything we ordered was great) RIB Casa de la Carnicería. They’re also planning to open up a cafe directly on the plaza.
But even with all the amenities, the hotel’s greatest attraction is its location. It is an easy walk in one direction to the Prado and Retiro Park, or in another to the Palacio Real and Museo Cerralbo. And, of course, there is being right on the Plaza Mayor itself, which is pretty hard to beat.