Whether you’re enjoying tapas-style king prawns and cured meats at the bustling Mercado de San Miguel or soaking up the art on display at the Prado, Madrid makes for the ideal city break if you’re looking for a culture-rich weekend away. After spending your days exploring, you’ll want somewhere conveniently located and comfortable (as well as a little luxurious – you are on holiday after all) to rest your head.
And with its friendly vibe, Only You Hotel Atocha – which opened in December 2016 – covers all these bases. It’s the second Only You hotel in Madrid, the original being a boutique offering in the north of the city. Both aim to achieve “contemporary urban comfort” through their distinctive interior designs, with this new location trying hard to differentiate itself from your standard city hotel. Steering clear of formal and fancy interiors, the décor is a blend of Mediterranean and industrial styles from Barcelona-based designer Lázaro Rosa Violán – think mismatched chairs, art deco flooring and unusually shaped bookcases dividing up the space.
During my stay, Brooklyn-based barbers, Rivington, had set up shop temporarily in the lobby offering guests a haircut or shave, while the bar had kicked off a three-month collaboration with US gin brand Seagrams to bring some NYC-style cocktails to the capital.
The bar and restaurant take over most of the ground floor, so you don’t feel like you’re walking into a hotel on arrival. The restaurant serves a mix of food, from traditional Spanish tapas dishes to Asian cuisine. Some of it’s a little unusual – take the cactus mousse with actual cactus inside, which tasted a little too earthy for us – but there are also some failsafe options like the fish or spicy chicken dishes, making it a good choice if you don’t want to venture into the city centre for dinner.
Take the lift to the seventh floor for breakfast and there’s an outdoor terrace running down one side of the building where you can eat while catching the morning sun. But if you’re after a little luxury, head to the first floor where they’ve converted one of the rooms into a beauty salon (I can speak for the Lomi Juma energising massage). And gym bunnies can find a small, fully-equipped gym on the ground floor.
Once you’ve got the bus (€5/£4.24) from Madrid Airport to Atocha station – the main one – you’ll find the hotel directly opposite, so there’s no traipsing around with suitcases. But it’s by no means a gritty location – it sits at the edge of the beautiful Retiro park, one of the largest in the capital, where you can spend a lazy afternoon basking in the sun or hire one of the rowing boats in the artificial lake.
From here, it’s roughly a 20-minute uphill walk to the city centre and the main Plaza Mayor. If you steer clear of the main road (Calle de Atocha) and wander up the cobbled backstreets instead, you’ll trundle peacefully past local restaurants and shops, away from the roar of the city roads. The main shopping street (Calle Gran Via) is also about a 20-minute walk.
There are plenty of rooms in this hotel, with doors dotted along every floor, so you’d be forgiven for thinking they won’t be spacious. But they are surprisingly so. The cheapest deluxe rooms have all the usual comforts and roomy beds you can starfish on after a day walking around the city, while the bigger rooms and suites have lovely extra touches like a pair of hair straighteners to save on packing space (vital if you’re only taking hand luggage), mini grooming kits, spacious showers and a twin balcony looking out towards the city centre.
The rooms have an urban feel, and my junior suite felt like a small loft apartment, with an exposed brick wall (albeit brick-patterned wallpaper), oversized sofa and solid wooden furniture. There’s also a dressing table surrounded by spotlights, which doesn’t produce the most flattering light but looks like something from a Broadway dressing room. Mixed with tartan throws and carpet, it’s a quirky design that brings in styles from around the world – but pull back the curtains and the surrounding architecture will reassure you that you’re still in Madrid.
Only YOU Hotel Atocha, Paseo de la Infanta Isabel, 12, 28014 Madrid (0034 914 09 78 76; onlyyouhotels.com) Doubles from €130 (£111) per night, breakfast included.
Parking: €28 (£24) per day or €3 (£2.55) per hour
Access: Four adapted rooms
Rooms: * * * *
Service: * * * * *
Value: * * * *Reuse content