Look for the bold-as-brass scarlet façade at 34 Calle de Atocha (the main drag in Madrid’s literary district): behind it lies boutique hotel CoolRooms Atocha, a stay awash in vintage glamour. Staff clad in tailcoats and top hats welcome you into this 19th-century townhouse, where you’ll rest in skillfully restored rooms with additional art deco flourishes. When you’re not counting cherubim, swooshing down the grand staircase or musing on the murals in the lounge you can swap tasting notes over El 34’s tapas plates…
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine in your room and no €15 supplement if you order breakfast in bed
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Reception is open 24 hours.
Double rooms from £218.55 (€257), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include a buffet breakfast and use of a Smartphone throughout your stay.
If you’re feeling rather cinematic as you move through your room, you may want to thank the lightning designer who created the soft warm glow within.
At the hotel
Interior courtyard, garden, salon, laundry, free high-speed WiFi. In rooms: a 43” Smart TV, Beoplay M3 wireless Bang & Olufsen speaker, Nespresso coffee-maker, kettle, private bar, GHD hair-straighteners, robe and slippers, Molton Brown bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Cool Suites by name, cool suites by nature… These elegant 92sq m penthouses are ballroom big and rather romantic, with a terrace overlooking Madrid and a hot tub made for two. Book Number 43 and you’ll get a 360-degree view from a hidden tower room. Guests should note that each room comes with a unique layout, some on the eccentric side.
Tall trees shade the courtyard pool and planters with their spread branches. The turquoise-tiled, unheated swimming spot is all set for cooling off and chilling out in a sunlounger – drinks and tapas plates can be summoned to your side too. After sunset, poolside partying starts – the pool can be turned into a dancefloor for late-night sessions.
A notebook and pen to note the gold-inscribed pavement quotations in Las Letras, and the slinkiest swimwear.
Public areas and the sizeable Junior Suite number one are wheelchair-accessible.
Welcome. Cots (free) can be added for under-2s, under-12s stay free when sharing a bed and teens aged 13-and-up are considered adults. On request, a futon sofa bed can be added to some Suites, Master Suites and Cool Suites for €70 (plus tax) a night.
In the El 34 tapas joint, prop up the bar, or take your spread on the terrace to make the most of Madrid’s balmy weather.
Belle bookworm by day, Spanish siren by night.
Chef Joseba Guijarro has won a Michelin star previously, and could well be on course for another: his menu at Mediterranean eatery El 34 deftly marries traditional flavours with modern technique in dishes such as cecina (dried) beef with tomato tartare, foie gras with apple and tomatoes with an emulsion of Empeltre olives. For a bite-size spread of Guijarro’s hits, and casual yet cosmopolitan surrounds, order up a table-full of plates at El 34 tapas bar.
There’s a laid-back approach to drinking at the hotel: wines, signature cocktails and rare whiskies can be swilled and sipped in the fresco-clad lounge, on the terrace or poolside.
El 34 serves breakfast and lunch from 7am–11am, Monday to Friday (till 12 noon on weekends); dinner runs from 1pm–11pm, Sunday to Thursday, and till midnight Friday and Saturday. You can drink at the pool bar from 1pm–11pm.
Grandly restored 19th-century townhouse CoolRooms Atocha is in the centre of Madrid, in the literary Las Letras district.
Madrid-Barajas Airport is around a 25-minute drive from the hotel. A number of carriers run direct flights from major cities in Europe, and it’s possible to fly direct from New York and LA (flights from Asia and Australia usually stopover in Europe). The hotel can arrange transfers in a private limousine or luxury car for €60.
Madrid’s biggest rail hub, Atocha Station, is just a 15-minute walk (or 10-minute taxi ride) away. From the airport, you can ride the light rail (metro ligero) from Terminal T4 direct to Atocha.
Madrid is slap-bang in the centre of Spain: Valencia is about a three-hour drive away, Bilbao is a four hours and to reach Barcelona, Seville or Porto in neighbouring Portugal will take you roughly six hours. The hotel has a valet, but parking is nearby and costs €30 a night (plus 10 per cent tax).
Worth getting out of bed for
Aside from lazing in the lounge or by the pool – and practising floating down the staircase, of course – there’s little to do at the hotel. But, luckily, it’s in a buzzy corner of Madrid, the Las Letras neighbourhood, where all the main players of Spain’s Golden Age of literature (over the 15th and 16th centuries) lived: playwright and poet Lope de Vega; rhyme-master Calderón de la Barca; sonnet-scribbler Góngora, post-romanticist wordsmith Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, dramatist José Echegaray and Don Quixote don, Miguel de Cervantes… Las Letras (AKA ‘the letters’) is well-read and has a lively gastronomic and nightlife scene. Start the story in Plaza de Santa Ana, paying homage to the statues of Federico Garcia Lorca and Calderón de la Barca. This spirited meeting and mingling spot sets the tone for the rest of the quarter. Along Calle de Atocha, step into the 16th-century the Church of San Sebastian, site of many famed funeral services. For live music and livelier conversation, hit the iconic Café Central on Plaza del Ángel and pick up a posy in fully blossomed flower shop El Jardín del Ángel. Cervantes is buried in the suitably flamboyantly named church Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, and along the street named in his honour, you’ll find the Lope de Vega House museum.
Many of Madrid’s must-sees are within a 10-minute walk of the hotel’s super central location: the Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor; Gran Vía’s shops; El Rastro Market; and the Prado Museum, and the Royal Palace is just a little further at 15 minutes’ walk, placing you at the centre of the action. And, if you want something a little different, try wild swimming in the rocky pools at Río Manzanares en La Pedriza, an hour’s drive away at the Cuenca Alta Manzanares Regional Park.
Madrid’s gastronomy dazzles with its Michelin-starred restaurants and local eateries that shine just as brightly. Take breakfast by Retiro Park at Magasand, on Calle Columela, with its healthful spread of croissants, crêpes, muesli and smoothies. Stop to try Madrid’s best tortilla (allegedly) at Sylkar on Calle Espronceda, or charcuterie and cava at BDJ. Put pedal to the metal for the mod menu at Triciclo – the work of three passionate chefs – with its tandoori lamb cheeks and spiced deer shank; Lobo 8 (the restaurant at fellow Las Letras stay, Gran Hotel Inglés) is a relaxed spot for dinner, too. For date-night dining, try the conversation-starting, experimental tapas at Sala De Despiece: artichoke with eel and pomegranate, razor clams with yuzu and shiso, oysters with peach, mustard and basil. And, of Madrid’s Michelin-starred picks, we like Ramón Freixa’s restaurant, which evokes the old-school glamour of CoolRooms and has dramatically named dishes, such as ‘Mexican homage’ and, ahem, ‘zucchini surprise’.
Drinking in Madrid is as diverse as its culinary offerings, but it has an incredibly chic crowd of cocktail bars. You’ll need some stamina to match the Madrileños, who start drinking late and rarely go home before 2am. A few venues to hit along the way include historic beer hall Cerveceria Alemana and a couple other bars around pretty Plaza Santa Ana: La Vinoteca, Lateral Santa Ana… Sip suave cocktails at Del Diego on Calle Reina, and head on up to the roof terrace at the Principal Madrid for Gran Vía views and a lengthy list of G&Ts.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this grand boutique hotel in the ‘hood where Madrid’s Golden Age greats hung out and shown off their flamenco moves and fan semaphore, a full account of their elegant city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside CoolRooms Atocha in Madrid…
Pack your most frou-frou frocks and morning-dress suits (to match the staff’s) for a time-travelling jaunt into Madrid’s past. You’ll find the hotel in the rare surrounds of the Las Letras district, which literary luminaries such as Miguel de Cervantes once called home. The cherry amid the plum townhouses along Calle de Atocha, boutique hotel CoolRooms Atocha has been restored to its full 19th-century fanciness: the parquet’s been polished, cherub cornices have had facelifts and the frescoes have been touched up. To complement the impressive period details, rooms have been reimagined in navy and cream with ornate art deco-style panelling and marble bathrooms – some suites even have hot tubs on terraces overlooking the city.
The hotel’s just as roaring as it must have been back in the day, with plenty of well-thought-out contemporary additions. The tree-shaded swimming pool, for instance, turns into a dancefloor after-dark, and chef Joseba Guijarro oversees a Med-inspired restaurant where traditional ingredients – cecina (dried beef), salmorejo (puréed tomatoes and bread) and such – star in thoroughly modern dishes (you can also share juicy tidbits in tapas joint El 34.) Madrid in a microcosm, with justifiably cool rooms and a warm heart.