Anthea Gerrie visits The Thompson Madrid. The city’s newest five-star hotel, the first uber-cool Thompson to open in Europe
Thompson may be an unlikely monicker – conservative-sounding and understated – for an uber-cool hotel embracing local culture, but it is a brand Hyatt, who bought the name and concept from its originators a decade ago, sees as the future – high-design lifestyle hotels offering memorable experiences including access to local art and artisans. So it’s no surprise the American giant chose Madrid, a heady melting pot of art, culture, high-end fashion and street life, for its first Thompson outpost in Europe.
Memorable experiences are literally part of the fabric of this medium-sized hostelry which feels as intimate as a boutique hotel. Enticing textures linger in the mind, from the charcoal-coloured nubbled stone from Aragon lining the lobby to the huge sheet of black and white marble making an enormous style statement above the headboard in my room; materials as local to Spain as the art, food and furnishings make a dazzling first impression at Madrid’s newest five-star hotel.
It may require a credit card on check-in like its competitors, but in other ways the Thompson Madrid does things differently, cladding managers in tailored jeans, receptionists in designer frocks and waiters in crisp aprons, all trained to deliver their services with exceptional friendliness as well as professionalism. They operate from a near-perfect location, on a small, noise-free square less than five minutes in one direction from Madrid’s central plaza, the Puerta del Sol, and in the other from the city’s major central shopping boulevard, the Gran Via.
The Thompson Madrid has 153 rooms and 22 suites; while smaller rooms can feel a tad poky, suites like the one I enjoyed made for serene sleeping, reserving the bedroom for a huge bed and the well-appointed, flexibly-opening closets which are a Thompson signature. The shallow, black-velvet-lined jewellery drawer made me wonder why every hotel worth its salt doesn’t offer this all-important amenity. The only item which seemed potentially out of place was a good armchair which did not face the large-screen television and could thus only be intended for relaxing with a book in the corner of the room.
Both the bedroom and adjacent living room, which had a round table to work from rather than a desk, and a built-in seating area from which to watch the room’s own large-screen TV, enjoyed a really useful piece of furniture on which to hang outer garments and leave handbags ready to be carried out when time came to leave the room.
The now-usual in-room Nespresso sat in an elegant unit accommodating a glamorous, illuminated cocktail cabinet, which with its shaker is another room signature, but unusually, the pull-out mini-bar was not refrigerated. I only discovered on my last morning that I had a terrace off the living-room never pointed out to me, another attribute of most suites.
Art is everywhere – that marble features as an art installation in every guest room, even if not so prominently as in the suites – and positively jumps out at guests in the lobby and room corridors, where carpeting pays homage to the cobblestones of Madrid’s historic streets. Even the reception desk is an installation, composed of suitcases and trunks to symbolise the journey which has drawn visitors to Europe’s cultural destinations ever since the days of the Grand Tour.
Dining options at the time of my stay were limited to Omar, a cheerful ground-floor eatery oriented towards breakfast and lunch service, and incorporating an excellent bakery open to the public via its own door on the attractive little Plaza del Carmen. To avoid food waste, it’s best to deter waiters who rush to serve all arriving guests with a portion of every cold breakfast offering in the absence of a buffet – the plate of Iberico ham and fresh bakery selection is really quite enough.
Egg dishes aim to be extraordinary, like the variation on eggs Benedict incorporating a kimchi Hollandaise which was less than totally successful, but freshly-squeezed orange juice and an abundance of very good coffee made up it. For nightcaps following dinner in this great eating-out city there is the independently-operated Hijos de Tomas speakeasy and piano bar on the first floor and rooftop dining is promised for 2023.
While walking between Madrid’s great treasure-houses of art – the Prado, Thyssen, Reina Sofia and Bellas Artes institute – will keep every visitor fit, there are in-house opportunities on the 8th floor of the Thompson Madrid – a swimming pool incorporating a hydro-massage system, a gym offering private as well as group classes and a post-workout relaxation area with loungers overlooking the city skyline.
It’s no surprise that one of the meeting rooms is named for Penelope Cruz, and that all, along with the ritzy ballroom, are designed to wow business travellers as well as leisure guests with their own brand of wood-lined chic.
As for that access to local culture, a masterclass and market trip with chef Nino Redruello, who oversees the hotel’s food and beverage offerings, a food tour and a private visit of two of Madrid’s art museums are currently on offer, with visits to artists’ studios and Oteyza, one of the city’s top fashion ateliers, in the works to join them. But really, all you need to do is step out into the street from this central perch in Madrid and the food, art and culture will find you.
Tell Me More About The Thompson Madrid
The Thompson Madrid, Plaza del Carmen 28013, Madrid, Spain
T: +34 910 62 12 34
Rooms at the Thompson Madrid from £360;