Apparently dancing flamenco for 30 minutes burns 157.5 calories (that extra half makes all the difference). And you use masses of calories, too, walking up and down the glorious gilded-rail staircase of the regal Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid in Spain. Cesar Ritz knew how to build palaces back in 1910 – the age of the building is written in gold on the building’s side, on Calle de Felipe IV, next to the Prado.
Spain’s King Alfonso XIII wanted to rival Ritz Paris, and he called on architect Charles Mewès to design the necessary. Honestly, since it re-opened July 2020 after a transformational hibernation for its current Gilles & Bossier design, it has beamed confident, un-glitzy style. Mushroom-coloured patterned carpets have inset faux doormats next to gold numbers on marble flooring outside all 160 bedrooms.
Bathrooms’ Hollywood-style flattering lighting complements GHD hair dryers and tongs in stylish leather movie-star carry-cases. Everywhere has enough USB ports for multi-million tech start-ups.
My favourite suite is 405. It’s spacious and airy, its circular sitting room looking down at the hotel’s year-round Garden restaurant, and across to the Prado. Soft walls blend with the stylish mushroom leather doors of the entertainment centre.
There’s true-style everywhere. Loyalty FANS find their favourite daily newspaper waiting, and welcome notes are real-ink, and legible. Wonder how GM and RVP Greg Liddell has time for such minutiae? He’s in the hotel by 7.30 a.m., for a start.
Details provide a cornucopia of touch points. Down in the hotel’s lowest level, there’s what looks like a woodland of mediaeval tapestry, in fact paper-printed. Walk this shaded avenue, some 70 metres to a pale blue pool, with vitality stations. Feel yet more vital after a TBC, The Beauty Concept, facial – Biologique Recherche, Valmont and more.
Back up to ground level, via the central glass-ceiling winter garden to a crumpled gold wall that might well be real 22 carat. Next, in the bar, a ceiling-high collage of Old Masters pastiches is recognisable locals somewhat photo-shopped.
Dine outside, with Bordeaux burners or water-spray coolers as warranted. Real greenery dividers make every table exclusive. Start with jamon, paper-thin slices, and cheeses. Go on to beef tartare in a bone and, in this heat, the sommelier might suggest Rebisaca 2021 Bodegas Gerardo Méndez.
And turn tourist. Ask super-concierge Zoubida Santissi to arrange a tuk-tuk, electric naturally, for a scenic tour, immaculate streets nurtured by cleaners, many young females, all in catwalk dayglo yellow and grey. Churches galore plus a flamenco quintet, papá on guitar, mamá singing and three adult kids. Dresses with floor-dusting trains, the son a Mick Jagger clone in gold shirt, tightest black trousers and shoes that clump as quickly as any slot machine as they strump to flamenco 12-count. Join in, and think of those disappearing calories.