Wylde World: The Urso
THE URSO, MADRID
By David Newton
Spain has had a tough time of it recently, the global economic downturn affecting the country (and particularly its capital) very badly.
However there seem to be signs that the green shoots of recovery are beginning to make themselves visible and that the city of Madrid may again rediscover the unique mojo that has always made it a hugely popular draw (after all, the city is home to the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization).
Indeed no less an authority than Monocle magazine made it the "10th Most Liveable City In The World" even at the depths of the recession in 2010.
A significant new venture is the opening of Madrid’s first luxury boutique hotel, the Urso, by seasoned hotelier Pablo Carrington (above). Set in a beautiful 19th Century building in the centre of Madrid, (but away from the noise of the tourist areas) Urso boasts 78 rooms and suites and nestles in amongst chic little boutiques, grand embassy buildings and the many art galleries in the city’s “Golden Triangle”.
Urso will also feature the first branded luxury hotel spa in Madrid, plus room service that fully utilises the local shops and markets: delicacies like pastries, artisan breads and cold cuts of meat will have been sourced just yards from the hotel’s front door.
Having opened hotels in Cap Rocat and Torralbenc in the Balearics, the debonair Carrington told us: “I’ve wanted to open a hotel in Madrid for a long time and I’m certain this is the right one. The building is utterly unique as it occupies a whole block and so all rooms are exterior-facing. It’s location is second-to-none.”
But why, we wonder, has Madrid not had any other 5-Star hotels up till now?
“There are other small 5-Star hotels but they all belong to chains and offer standardised rooms with standardised service. Urso will be the first true luxury 5-Star boutique hotel,” says Pablo.
And what does “Urso” mean? Isn’t that the Spanish word for “bear”?
“Actually Urso is a take on the word Ursalia, which was the name of Madrid during the Roman Empire. The name Ursalia indeed comes from bears as the area was highly populated with brown bears, hence the bear on Madrid's emblem.”
Do you think Urso represents the revival of Spain's fortunes after a particularly severe recession?
“The tourism industry has held well during the recession but Madrid has suffered. I think Urso represents the new energy in Madrid, a city which is definitely on the upswing.”
So apart from Urso, give us a good reason to come over to this newly-revitalised Madrid and sample what is has to offer!
“Simply, Gastronomy and Culture,” says Pablo. “Gastronomy because you have the great mix between fantastic classics which throw you back to the 1950’s side by side with the latest in fooding trends. Culture because the triumvirate of the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofia galleries not only offer amazing collections and exhibitions but have been the driving force behind a much larger wave of cultural venues such as Caixa Forum and Matadero.”
Food and art: Wylde’s favourites! (as well as shopping!)
OK, so what kind of customer do you envisage staying at your newest hotel?
“Sophisticated travellers who prefer to stay away from the standardisation of hotel chains and who understand that luxury is not measured by the thickness of the carpet or the size of the television but by the attention to detail and the service.”
Good point, and, to be honest why would your hotel room need need a huge TV in a city like Madrid?!
Lastly Pablo: what five words would you choose to describeUrso?
“Cosmopolitan, elegant, Spanish, cosy, bon vivant.”
That’s actually six, but we reckon Madrid is a city that inspires exaggeration!
Hotel Urso opens in August 2014.
Stays at the hotel range from €200 on a B&B basis in an Urso Double Room and from €570 for a B&B basis in the Urso Terrace Suite (based on two people sharing).
For all other details check out the Urso website