Madrid’s Hotel Urban brings the art of escape into the 21st century
Opened in November 2004, Madrid’s Hotel Urban lies on Carrera de San Jerónimo in the heart of the Spanish capital—a stone’s throw from the Spanish parliament buildings—and sits atop of one of the grandest prom- enades in the city. Carrera de San Jerónimo leads down to Plaza de Canovas—a short stroll from the so-called Golden Triangle formed by three of the world’s most renowned art museums: the Museo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza and the Museo Reina Sofia.
The hotel is at the cutting edge of technology and design, as can be seen from a glance at the beautifully designed pieces that populate the interior of the building. From the Phillipe Starck chairs in the oyster and cocktail area to the Glass Bar to theTriade Studio- designed transparent chairs and bravura sofas in the rooms themselves, Hotel Urban exudes contemporary chic.
The hotel houses a private collection of art that includes 19th century Hindu fig- ures, Papua New Guinean art from the 19th and 20th centuries and Chinese portraits fromthe17th and19th centuries.A Khmer stone statue—dating from the late11th century and rescued from the temples at Angkor—and extremely valuable Buddhist works fromthe3rd century B.C. Qinand Han dynasties are also housed here. A collection of Egyptian artifacts from the Clos Archaelogical Foundation lie displayed behind ebony and glass below ground level and are also distributed throughout the rooms of the hotel.
Surrounded by a very heterogeneous group of Madrid buildings, a similar vertical composition was maintained in the Urban building so as to sit at a point of contemporary reference in the center of the city rather than as a standout sculptural creation. Architecturally, it’s Neoformalist, inspired by classical order and—clad in a black Zimbabwe stone amid steel—the building exudes an effort- lessly elegant look that attempts to strike a balance between the monumental exterior and the intimate ambiance of the interior design.
Architects Mariano Martitegui, Carlos Bassó and C. Cirici designed an open central tubular atrium supported with alabaster columns, pulling light and air for the five floors directly from the Madrid sky.
The interior of the hotel is very much designed for art appreciation and contemplation and the smattering of original Eastern pieces throughout adds a touch of exotic craft, evoking the ancient amid the ultra modern.
The mix of influences is aimed at creating the perfect marriage between art, design and technology. Every one of the 96 rooms contains at least one piece of art as well as the latest technological and aesthetic frills.A fiberoptic network running through the core of the building enables data transfer at blistering rates; connectivity augmented by the wireless antenna web around the site enables laptop use beside the rooftop pool. Each of the suites is designed with the finest materi- als available, from Wenge wood to Guatemalan green marble and white Thassos.
Part of the Derby Hotels Collection, the Hotel Urban is one of eight unique hotels in the center of cities around the world including the Claris, Barcelona and The Caesar, London. President and patron Jordi Clos Llombart, overseer of the Hotel Urban and founder of Barcelona’s public Museu Egipci, has it right when he says that “it’s not old-style luxury, it’s a 21st century luxury hotel.”
The hotel’s restaurant, Europa Decó, pres- ents creative Mediterranean cuisine from Chef Joaquín Felipe under the supervision of National Gastronomy Prize winner Francisco Patón. “La Terraza de Urban”, a terrace high above the city, offers spectacular views of the Madrid skyline.