Wylde World: Totem Hotel, Madrid
Report by Leanne Bracey
Where is it?
Madrid is made up of several districts, rather like London, each with something to offer. But Totem is in the most exclusive pocket of the city, known as Salamanca, rather like Mayfair meets Chelsea. The Totem hotel comes across as unassuming, as it sits in a Grande Dame of a 19th Century building that doesn’t scream hotel. The tree-lined streets give the hotel an air of discreetness, and it’s easy to walk past the entrance. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an exclusive building, housing glorious apartments. Niche museums like the Aire Libre and Taurino are also in this neighbourhood, as well as high-end and mid range shops, so you could easily spend a whole day discovering what Salamanca has to offer.
What’s it like?
Like something straight out of the pages of Elle Deco, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Totem is one of the chicest places to meet and stay in the capital, thanks to its on-trend design decoration – sumptuous velvet, deep, jewel-like colours and brass touches. A sweeping MC Escher-like staircase amps up the design kudos even more, and at the heart of it all, a magnificent bar. What’s more, the rooms don’t come with a high price tag. Being 4-star, it brings the cost right down, but, it really does have the feel of a 5-star hotel. The staff are attentive, the porters especially on the ball, and the receptionists were friendly without being over-familiar.
What’s on offer?
I’ve already mentioned the bar, which is something quite special. During the day it’s flooded with natural light and is open to business people taking meetings, or a group of girls stepping inside to hide from the heat of the city summer, a few cocktails in hand. It also has lots of quiet areas for resting with a glass of wine and a book. Come the evening, the whole ambience transforms into a serious contender as a place to be seen – the mirrored bar is a perfect backdrop for some cocktails, and a DJ providing the background tunes, making this a bar that shouldn’t be overlooked in this packed out city. Totem doesn’t have a restaurant, but with such competition from the rest of the city, it’s forgiven for not having a full-on dinner offering. However, the bar snacks of acorn-fed iberico ham (a must for all meat eaters coming to Madrid) and other typical Spanish-style tapas dishes are ample enough to stop you going elsewhere.
How about the rooms?
I stayed in the corner Junior suite, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the leafy street below – the bustle of a city without being too noisy. I loved the deep blue hue of the walls and pared-back styling in tones of grey, making it feel elegant and comfortable. Bathrooms are quite intimate, with frosted glass acting as partitions. There are family-friendly rooms and attic suites for something a bit more intimate. I imagine the standard rooms are a little more on the small side, which is quite normal for a large city. But with 64 rooms, there’s always going to be something to choose from.
What I loved…
The simplicity of the hotel, the decor and its location. It was quiet at night-time, despite being in the city. The service was fantastic too.
What I didn’t love…
I kind of missed having a spa area, or at least a pool, steam or sauna, even if it’s small. The city temperature can soar in the Summer, so it’s often nice to seek a bit of respite in your hotel, and not always in your room.