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Hotel Highlights

  • Home to Ramón Freixa’s famed restaurant
  • Intimate, luxurious 19th-century retreat
  • Mingle with Madrileños in this exclusive, upscale area

Overview

Pack your most elegant finery for Madrid's Hotel Unico a grand palace on the city's Golden Mile decked out in marble mosaics and ornate chandeliers. Royalty would feel at home in this gilded hideaway with its fine cuisine, decadent decor and elaborate sculptures.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Hotel Unico with us:

A welcome drink each, free parking and 20 per cent off in the spa

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

44, including six suites.

Check–out

Midday, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $211.94 (€172), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Breakfast is extra (€28 each).

Also

Ask for a tailored massage at the hotel’s Wellness Suite.

At the hotel

Spa, gym, gardens, free WiFi throughout and a library of books and DVDs. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, iPod, minibar and Gilchrist & Soames bath products.

Our favourite rooms

For peace and quiet, book a Unico King Courtyard or Unico King Garden – each of these rooms has high ceilings and grand windows, with a view based on whatever name you go for. The Grand Suite is the blow-out option, the biggest and best, with a lounge and Jacuzzi; its guests get fetched from the airport.

Packing tips

Wide-brimmed straw hats, sharp suits and super-size sunglasses to blend in with the well-heeled crowd.

Also

There are ground-floor rooms adapted for wheelchair users.

Children

Cribs are free; extra beds cost €99 a night. A local nanny can be booked for babysitting.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Ramon Freixa’s twice-starred restaurant is the star of the show: expect crazy concoctions such as duck burger with green mustard ice-cream, idiazabal cheese and crunchy bread, rice with cuttle fish and blood sausage, and red mullets with peas, asparagus and caviar. The surroundings are just as elaborate, with mirrored floors, patterned marble, hand-painted plates, bronze curtains and Moorish ironwork. It’s popular, so make reservations when booking your stay. The same chef is also behind the breakfasts.

Hotel Bar

The Fora Garden Bar serves cocktails and tapas in summer, and is less formal than the restaurant; a live band is in residence on Thursdays. The garden itself is open year round, but bar service is only available during the warmer months.

Last orders

Breakfast is from 7.30am until 11am during the week, and from 8am to midday at weekends; lunch is served between 1.30pm and 3.30pm; dinner is from 9pm until 11pm.

Room service

Food can be ordered any time, night or day.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Lavish labels to match the opulent atmosphere.

Top table

Beneath the Baroque mirror on the ceiling to people-watch with stealth.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Wander Salamanca’s streets, calling in at its many independent boutiques and antique shops. Also nearby, you’ll find the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen museums, as well as the grand and green Parque del Retiro.

Local restaurants

Find more fine dining at La Terraza del Casino, the three-Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant at Casino de Madrid on Calle Alcala (+34 91 532 1275; www.casinodemadrid.es). On the same street as the hotel, try Oter Epicure, a lively tapas joint serving the freshest seafood, including langoustine by the kilo, and excellent meat dishes (+34 91 431 6771; www.oterepicure.com). Head over to Tse Yang at Villa Magna for fine Cantonese food in beautiful surroundings; definitely one worth dressing up for (+34 91 587 1234). Take tapas with the Madrileños who know best at José Luis on Calle Serrano; you won’t find better tortilla and meatballs than at this old-school favourite, but make sure you book (+34 91 563 0958).

+ Enlarge
Salamanca shopping streets

Hotel Unico

Claudio Coello, 67, Madrid, 28001

Hotel Unico is in Salamanca, Madrid’s most exclusive barrio to the north of the city centre…

Planes

Madrid’s Barajas airport is just under 13 kilometres from the hotel. Ryanair has flights from London Stansted, London Gatwick and Manchester in the UK, and across Europe, including Marseille, Oslo and Rome (www.ryanair.com). EasyJet also connects the capital with various points across the Continent, covering London, Lyon and Lisbon (www.easyjet.com).

Trains

Renfe trains call in at Atocha, two kilometres from Hotel Unico (10 minutes by cab), and go to big cities all over the country (www.renfe.com). The nearest metro stop is Serrano, half a mile away.

Automobiles

The hotel is on Claudio Coello, north from Parque del Retiro. Parking in these upscale environs will set you back €32.40 a night.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Russell Norman , Writing restaurateur at Polpo

Airports aren’t places you would normally associate with elegance but Madrid’s was a revelation to me. Landing there on a beautifully warm September afternoon having left a rainy London just two hours before, we were rather taken with its majesty and quiet sophistication. It is Richard Rogers’ largest and most ambitious project to date and, at one billion Euros, his most expensiv…
Read more

Hotel Unico

Anonymous review by Russell Norman, Writing restaurateur

Airports aren’t places you would normally associate with elegance but Madrid’s was a revelation to me. Landing there on a beautifully warm September afternoon having left a rainy London just two hours before, we were rather taken with its majesty and quiet sophistication. It is Richard Rogers’ largest and most ambitious project to date and, at one billion Euros, his most expensive. But although it was grand and impressive, it was also quietly understated.

We felt exactly the same about Hotel Único. After a brief taxi journey from the airport we were standing in front of a pristine 19th-century façade, expertly blending into its surroundings and otherwise invisible, were it not for the very friendly uniformed doorman who materialised from nowhere to take our bags. It was a neat trick. Once inside, past the hidden entrance and silent sliding doors, we didn’t feel like we were in a hotel at all; more like one of Madrid’s most elegant private residences.

That first impression remained with us for the rest of our stay. Único is quiet, yes, but in a very good way. It is situated in the heart of the Salamanca quarter, flanked by swanky shops, but it feels secret and hidden. Our room was slightly serious and monochromatic but generously proportioned, uncluttered and it gave out onto a fantastic Juliet balcony with views up and down the quiet street. I loved the clever partitioning in the modern bathroom and the feeling of space created by the long entrance hall.

Architecturally Hotel Único is exquisite. The swirling mosaic motif on its floors, dramatic staircases and marble walls are bold touches but not at all overstated. Just like the staff, in fact, who were always polite and on-hand but never overbearing. I am grateful to the very smiley blue-eyed receptionist who spotted the mistakes in our museum schedule, knew the exact opening times of the big galleries and corrected our itinerary. Thank goodness he did – we would have missed Museo del Prado!

We spent our first day smooching around the atmospheric side streets of the city’s Latin quarter. We had great fun grazing in the covered Mercado San Miguel near Plaza Mayor – a board of pata negra here, a plate of pimientos de padron there – and then tried and failed to find an open tapas bar from the many that had been recommended. The most famous strip, Calle Cava Baja, was mostly boarded up at 8pm and only began to reveal itself after 9pm; Madrileñas clearly eat late. We headed back to the hotel to shower and change for supper at the city’s most famous restaurant, Ramón Freixa Madrid.

That a chef of Ramón Freixa’s stature is in residence at Único’s restaurant is clearly a huge bonus for the hotel. The restaurant is set to the rear of the building with its own private garden and entrance. It is elegant, of course, understated, naturally, and is as pretty as a picture. A huge Venetian mirror sits impossibly on the ceiling reflecting the dining room back down onto itself and a trompe l’oeil panorama fills an entire wall giving a feeling of heightened grandeur. I loved the chandeliers, which had been encased in a tight-fitting white web, reminding me of the work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.

We sat down in an empty room just after 9.30pm (I told you Madrid eats late) and enjoyed eight courses of the most skilful and witty cooking I can remember in recent years. The dining room was only full by 11pm, just as we were winding down, but what a superb and memorable meal. Incidentally, our bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet Premiere Cru was both exceptional and remarkably good value too. It is refreshing to visit a twice Michelin-starred restaurant with such a great attitude to wine mark-ups. Bravo.

We woke early the following morning to the sound of, well, nothing. It really is remarkable how peaceful this hotel feels while being in the very centre of a major European capital city. Breakfast was neat, expert, and met the official ‘Classy International Buffet’ standard. Good coffee.

Madrid’s galleries alone are reason enough to visit the city and, I have to say, the Prado museum’s collection is breathtaking. I would strongly advise that you limit yourself to just a few rooms per visit; it is easy to get gallery fatigue if you try to take in too much. Highlights for me included the Velazquez dwarf paintings and his masterpiece of comic bathos ‘Mars’, El Greco’s best works from around 1580 and, dear reader, the most astonishing collection of Goya paintings you will ever see. His depiction of ‘Saturn devouring his son’ is one of the most horrifying images ever committed to canvas. You have been warned.

After a good few hours scouring the excellent flea market of El Rastro (where I bought an old flamenco guitar and the missus got a hand-tooled leather handbag – both for just a few euros) we had a very enjoyable evening in the Latin quarter. The tapas bars there really are the best in the city and the highlight for me was the excellent hangover dish of poached eggs and fried potatoes from Los Huevos de Lucio on Calle Cava Baja. Back at Hotel Único, our bed was turned down and our curtains were drawn as we settled in to another perfect night’s sleep.

On our last morning we were determined to fit in a visit to the Reina Sofia gallery before leaving for the airport. (It is definitely worth a trip, if only for the superb collection of Picassos and the monumental ‘Guernica’, the jewel in Spanish modern art’s crown.) We asked Blue Eyes if we might check out at 1pm instead of the advertised noon. ‘Of course!’ was the reply. ‘Stay later if you like; 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock…’ Full marks.

Único is a very smart hotel indeed. It is discreet, understated and classy. Its position in Salamanca makes it good for a business trip but I could recommend as a destination in its own right, especially if you like peace, comfort, tasteful interiors and a two-Michelin star dining experience on your doorstep. (Or even if, like me, you prefer egg and chips.)

 

The Guestbook

Reviews of Hotel Unico from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

A quiet hotel in the middle of a busy city. Ideal for a fashion shopping break - shops as far as the eye can see and the legs can walk!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

There were excellent and agreeable staff. We had a lovely suite and overall we thought the standards were very high. Our meal at Ramon Freixa's 2 Michelin Star restaurant in the hotel was absolutely outstanding.

Don’t expect

There was good room service, but English people do like to make a cup of tea in their rooms...

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This hotel was a real delight; the photos looked fantastic but in the flesh it is stunning, an amazing combination of 19th century, art deco and modern. It was beautiful and in an incredible part of the city; the Salamanca area is loaded with wonderful restaurants, gorgeous shops and enviable apartments, with tree-lined streets and wonderful walking pavements. Having stayed the previous week in the centre of Madrid, this was a wonderful experience of another part of town and a different feel to the city. The hotel, the rooms, the facilities and the service were all outstanding. The attention to detail in the presentation and facilities were amazing – we loved this place. It's quite possibly the most lovely place I have ever stayed in, complemented by the gorgeous Salamanca neighbourhood. It wasn't until after we arrived that we realised the hotel restaurant has two Michelin stars, which was of course booked out so we missed out on that one!

 

 

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The rooms were large and nicely decorated. The staff was all very helpful. The lounge on the first floor was great for having a glass of wine and meeting with our companions to plan the night's events. The neighborhood was great for shopping and dining. The best thing of all was the fabulous restaurant Ramon Freixa where we had a truly gourmet experience.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a very classy hotel with impeccable service to boot.

Rating: 10/10 stars