Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid Magnificent!

I was unprepared to love this hotel so much! I arrived early evening in November after nineteen days of wandering in Morocco. The neighborhood sets the stage for the opulence, the area is quite glammy. The drive up the Paseo del Prado is stunning, festooned with immense stone monuments, beautiful flower beds, the massive tree lined del Prado was just on the edge of winter, the brilliant rosy leaves were still intact and many of the gardens were still blooming. Madrid is truly a very elegant city and I had never visited. My first thought was this is so like Paris.

Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid faces the Paseo del Prado, the tree-lined boulevard punctuated by fountains that links the city’s major museums. The hotel is in the elegant Jerónimos neighborhood, where many members of the Spanish aristocracy had sumptuous homes in the handsome late 19th-century buildings. The opening of the hotel in 1910 had a big influence on the architecture of the area, with Parisian features such as sensual curves softening the more austere traditional style. You may recognize the streets from Pedro Almodóvar’s film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios).

Situated within the historic ‘Golden Triangle of Art’, an area defined by the most important museums in the city – the property’s location within a prestigious residential area close to Madrid’s financial and commercial district and to El Retiro Park, adds to its appeal in one of Europe’s greatest capitals. Renowned Parisian designers Gilles & Boissier, have created a sophisticated residential design for the 100 rooms and 53 suites, including several one-of-a-kind specialty suites, featuring unique design elements inspired by the hotel’s historic connections to the city, Spanish culture, and art.

The view of the Prado Museum from my suite at Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

A Grand Palace that dates to the 2nd of October 1910, which witnessed the grand opening of The Ritz Madrid. The opening ceremony of what was meant to be one of the Europe’s finest hotels was performed by guests of honor, King Alfonso XIII and his Queen Victoria Eugenia, granddaughter of the English Monarch Queen Victoria. The young King had been instrumental in this exciting new adventure, the creation of the first genuine luxury hotel in Spain. Travelling widely throughout Europe and experiencing the standards of excellence of numerous new Palace Hotels, he was determined to modernize his own country and make Madrid a city equal to other European capitals, with a truly luxurious hotel that could accommodate visiting guests and dignitaries.

Not only did the Ritz Development Company use the architect of the famous Hotel Ritz in Paris, but they also invited César Ritz, “hotelier par excellence” and father of the Ritz Paris, to be involved in the creation of this new hotel which was to carry his name. César Ritz was not only an outstanding hotelier but a showman, a brilliant director and producer who set the stage for the star performance of his illustrious clientele.

Palm Court, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

What distinguished César Ritz’s hotels from other Palace hotels at the time, was the noble proportions of the architecture, the beauty and exquisite taste of the interior, the unfailing personal attention to detail and that often-elusive commodity, great style. Elements that have all been revived today. More than 100 years later, the unequalled style of hotel management and design which César Ritz originally brought to the city, has been restored and perfected for a new generation to experience at Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid.

An art collection inspired by the historic city collections. Every work of art at Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid has been specifically chosen to draw on the city’s artistic legacy. In its attention to minute, beautiful details, the collection of close-ups from the Museo del Prado hopes to draw the guest in, to relish in the painterly aspects of the original paintings and to inspire guests to visit the museum with a different perspective. It is the idea of reinvention and finding the new in the old that guided the selection of artwork for Mandarin Oriental Ritz Madrid. Like the building itself, the hotel’s artwork honor’s the past with new interpretations. The collection acknowledges the rich history of the hotel and the art from Madrid’s world-class museums  Fans, decorative and the iconic Mandarin logo play a dynamic part of the décor and provide a suggestion of place, Madrid. An antique pearl and lace fan resides in an ornate case in the lobby, the back wall of the reception area hosts a resplendent sculpture representing the movement of a flamenco dancers’ fan. The brilliant imagery says so much about the attention to detail of the Mandarin.

The entrance is impressive, pass by the formally dressed doormen into a grand five-star old world experience; the massive lobby retains the original magnificent staircase which sits below an ornate celling sculpture of hundreds of quivering gold and silver leaves, a reflection of the nearby Retiro Park; the leaves gracefully flutter over the lobby as if they have just been picked off the ground. I was told the artist, Haberdashery, sprinkled the leaves on the ground and designed the installation as if the collection had just fallen to the ground. Daylight from the overhead crystal canopy roof add exceptional drama to the reflections.

High tea was being served at chic tables, underneath a beautiful crystal canopy ceiling, the Palm Court offers an elegant setting for refined all-day dining and Afternoon Tea. The furnishings are opulent, classic tapestry style embroidered fabrics in botanical prints set the stage. A grand piano provides delightful background music to the beyond beautiful guests, if these were locals, I would suggest that the grand dame Señora’s of Madrid must congregate here as everyone was stylishly dressed and coiffed, it looked like a scene from a majestic movie set!  

At the beating heart of the hotel, under the crystal canopy ceiling of the Palm Court lies the intimate Champagne Bar. A cozy venue with only 8 seats, guests can pair a glass of champagne from an impressive array of renowned houses with caviar, oysters, white truffle or Iberian Ham among other delicacies.  El Jardin del Ritz was in full swing, lovely fountains adding to the ambiance. Serving signature amuse bouche tapas menu alongside a host of creative cocktails, mocktails and wine, the Ritz Garden is open all year weather permitting and is a divine location to catch up with friends in Madrid’s balmy weather.

Champagne Bar
Champagne Bar, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

This property has much to do with royalty, it only seemed fitting I would be treated like a queen, all my wishes were granted. My stunning Prado Suite faced the del Prado Museum, with a view filtered by the brilliant orange and yellow leaves of a late fall. A separate living room provided a cozy space to work and enjoy the view. Bathroom is massive, two loos, and a soaking tub designed to share, truly exquisite!  Butler floor assures all needs will be met in a very timely fashion, when the bell rings around cocktail time, do answer, as trays of elegant canapes reflecting the feasting heritage of Spain and wine, or bubbly are grandly delivered.

Pictura Bar
Pictura hotel bar, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

After my site inspection, I popped into the gorgeous hotel bar, Pictura, totally swoon worthy! Opulent and sophisticated the focal point is the bar counter, backed by a museum-inspired mural of different Spanish artisans, the oversize photos appear to be renditions of Museum Old Masters, however the subjects dressed in period clothing are local luminaries. Poets, politicians, artists and painters in classic costume, a collage of photographic portraits by local artist Paula Anta.  The bar seemed to host locals and guests, who wouldn’t want to curl into a corner booth and sip bubbly with this stunning backdrop, I could have stayed for hours.   

Pictura at Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

After an afternoon exploring the street scenes of Madrid, I moseyed to the elegant serene indoor plunge. Walls of white marble frame the long lap pool, offset by a gold canopy frame space filled with several elegant loungers. The humid hushed environment stimulates naps, it’s a quiet relaxing location, perfect for a quiet read or snooze pre-evening entertainment! An urban sanctuary in the heart of the city the facilities include a dedicated treatment room, fitness center, and spa which offers an array of bespoke holistic therapies, designed by The Beauty Concept.

Spa
Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid Plunge

Dining with a Capital D! Designed, developed and overseen by Chef Quique Dacosta, who has five Michelin stars to his name in his native region of Valencia and is now bringing his Mediterranean magic to Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid where his signature restaurant looks out onto the garden. Each of the five bars and restaurants enjoys its own unique character, offering delicious cuisine and inventive cocktails served in exquisite surroundings. Dacosta is one of the biggest names in Spanish food, he oversaw the gastronomy of the hotel’s five restaurants and bars.  The hard-to-get reservation is at Deesa, which has two tasting menus’, the signature fine dining restaurant located in the stunning Alfonso XIII room.

Turret Suite Bedroom
My super soaking tub! Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid

I have no doubt in my mind that our clients and all fortunate guests staying at the Mandarin Oriental will experience the same regal treatment. Highly Recommend, if you are seeking old world glamour, elegance, divine dining, and exceptional location as well.

What’s not to love? Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid won me over.

A Luxury Adventure in the Dolomites

Discover one of the most beautiful mountain countryside’s on Earth. The Dolomites are known for incredible landscapes, breathtaking vistas, and amazing trails. Explore this vast alpine playground on foot with one of our expert local guides.

A bespoke Journey tailored to as many days as you are inclined to hike the Alps! Plan to visit some of the most incredible areas in the Dolomites – on foot. Whether you prefer short day hikes or a challenging multi-day trek, the Dolomite Mountains offer hiking trips for every interest and ability level. And enjoy the natural beauty of these incredible valleys and mountains.

In addition to the stunning surroundings, this itinerary includes plenty of time to explore the local culture and cuisine, allowing for an in-depth understanding of the area. Amazing scenery, lovely hotels, hidden mountain inns, fascinating history, and delectable cuisine – a marvelous combination of history, scenery and great hiking, for a truly unforgettable experience in the Dolomites.

This tailor-made program will take you to discover the area known as Ladinia, land of the ancient Ladin people, touching its two most important areas, the first extending over the Veneto Dolomites, whose heart is Cortina d’Ampezzo, and the second extending over the South Tyrol Dolomites. In a territory which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, you will discover the human heritage of the Ladin people.

Day 1 – Upon arrival in Cortina d’Ampezzo, check-in to Hotel Cristallo. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.

Day 2 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a half-day hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Cortina. All the itineraries are easy-moderate hikes.  Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.

Pieve di Cadore - Official WEbsite of the Dolomites

Day 3 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a full-day tour around Cortina and its surroundings. Rightly known as the “Pearl of the Dolomites”, Cortina is beautifully embedded in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting not only a marvelous mountain scene, immersed as it is among majestic peaks and boundless landscapes, but also a thousand-year-old history and tradition. From the latest fashion trends to antiques and fine jewelry, from floral furnishings to the world of textiles and design, Cortina is able to satisfy the most refined tastes in an incomparable mix of past and future.

After exploring the town, learn about its historical background and enjoy a leisurely lunch, head to some of the most famous landmarks of the area.

Your first stop will be the Andraz Castle, an ancient fortress standing on a rocky outcrop at the foot of Falzarego Pass, a strategic location once meant to keep control over all the existing access roads to the area. Today, after centuries of man’s neglect and the devastating effects of World War I, the fortress is open to the public and has become a museum, conceived to promote the knowledge of this formidable monument and the surrounding dolomitic area as an expression of the local cultural heritage linked to the Ladin area of the Alto Agordino.

The Andraz Castle - Official WEbsite of the Dolomites
Andraz Castle

Next up, head to Pieve di Cadore. Perched on a hill at 878 m, Pieve di Cadore is the natural gateway to the heart of the Belluno Dolomites and mostly known for being the birthplace of the famous 15th-century painter Tiziano Vecellio (Titian). His house, where he spent most of his childhood and part of his adult life, has turned today into a museum, where you will discover rustic wooden furnishings, works and personal objects once belonging to the artist, and a kitchen with the traditional hearth. At the end of the visit, return to Cortina and have dinner at leisure.

Day 4 – In the morning, head to the starting point for your 40-minute exclusive helicopter tour, a truly one-of-a-kind experience to admire the breathtaking landscape of both the Veneto and Alto Adige Dolomites. After the experience, enjoy lunch at leisure.  In the afternoon, choose one of the proposed hiking paths.

Dolomites - Wikipedia

Day 5 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a full-day tour in the area of Auronzo di Cadore. Like many other towns in the province of Belluno, Auronzo was once under the rule of the Republic of Venice, which exploited the lush forests of the area as a reserve of prized timber for its Arsenal. One of them, the so-called Somadida Forest or Forest of the St. Mark’s Trees, was fundamental above all the others for its very peculiar position, located at a spot of the valley protected by the mountains on each side. After several historical vicissitudes, in the 1870s the forest was incorporated into the State Heritage and declared inalienable. Today, visitors can still admire this true gem which houses a variety of animal species and some of the most beautiful flowers of the Dolomites, such as the rare Pianella della Madonna or Venus’ shoe, the largest species of mountain orchid.

Auronzo di Cadore - Wikipedia
Auronzo di Cadore

Your next stop will be Lake Misurina, the largest natural lake of the Cadore Valley. A jewel set among the UNESCO Dolomites, Lake Misurina rises at 1756 m and is famous not only for its charm, but also for the therapeutic properties it offers thanks to its particularly healthy microclimate.

There are at least two different legends associated with Lake Misurina. The guide will share these great legends, which have a very strong bond with the origins of the Dolomites. At the end of the tour, return to your hotel in Cortina and have dinner at leisure.

Lake Misurina - Wikipedia

Day 6 – This day will be dedicated to discovering the Ladin human heritage in the Dolomite area, visiting the areas of Feltre and Belluno with your private guide. Your first stop will be Feltre, a jewel of Renaissance art, often referred to as the “small rupestrian Venice”. Situated on the very Southern edge of the Dolomites, Feltre stands on a steep hill that dominates its surroundings, which makes its turreted skyline an unmistakable – and almost magical – landmark from all directions.  Its architectural integrity, partly due the fact that the town was completely rebuilt at the behest of the Republic of Venice in the 16th century (it had been destroyed by foreign troops), is clearly visible in the old town centre, featuring an elegant Renaissance outlook and countless frescoes covering the façades of most houses and palaces.While in Feltre, enjoy lunch at leisure.

In the afternoon, passing through the area of the Vajont creek (famous for a tragic disaster in 1963 during the construction of a dam), head to the Basilica Santuario dei Santi Vittore e Corona, a religious complex 3 kilometers away from Feltre. The complex is an authentic  jewel of Romanesque style, and features clear signs of Armenian and oriental influences. In 2011 the skull of St. Victor was brought back from Prague, where it was kept, and worshiped in the sanctuary until 2012.

Next up, explore the town of Belluno, the very core of the vast mountain region of the Ladin Dolomite region. Along with classically-ordered and colonnaded features of the Renaissance period, Belluno’s architectural style blends in Alpine characteristics and a lofty setting, which make it an undoubtedly picturesque town. The Piazza del Duomo is flanked by beautiful buildings and impressive palaces that reflect the town’s grandiose history, and is punctuated with a fountain in the center. The Piazza del Mercato, once the site of the ancient Roman Forum, is more intimate and bustles with life. The elegant Palazzo dei Rettori was once home to Belluno’s rulers, while all around the town richly decorated churches, characteristic streets, and quaint cafes frame this little jewel of the Alps.

Belluno in the Dolomites - Italy | Holiday guide
Belluno

At the end of the tour, return to your hotel in Cortina and have dinner at leisure.

Day 7 – In the morning, meet your alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths in the area of Venetian Dolomites. Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.

Day 8 – After check-out, head to San Cassiano in Val Badia and check in to Hotel Ciasa Salares. In the afternoon, meet your private wine expert of the Wieser family in the cellars of the estate. He will be ready to guide you through the tantalizing world of the wine and share some of the secrets that make oenology so fascinating. You will have the chance to taste 6 different wine (3 red wines and 3 white wines) accompanied by  delicious bites and a great selection of local cheese. The hotel is couched below the great Conturines and Lavarela peaks in the Dolomites, just over a mile (two kilometers) from the bijou mountain village of San Cassiano, with its picture-book Alpine church, log-cabins and wooden chalets. The hotel is just across the road from the ski lifts, which zip you up to the dizzying Dolomite ski network (745 miles/1,200km of interconnected pistes for all levels) or to godly hiking tracks.

Penthouse Suite, Hotel Ciasa Salares

Day 9 –  In the morning, meet your private expert in the lobby and start your half-day exploration tour around Pralongià Plateau. It is a special natural highlight known as the “Amphitheatre of the Dolomites” for the stunning panoramic views it offers: it includes the Fanes Group with Mt. Piz Cunturines, the Puez Group with Mt. Sassongher and the mighty glacier of Mt. Marmolada. From the wide and easy paths of the highland you may ascend to the peak of Mt. Piz Sorega, the Col Alto and the Piz la Ila.  At the end of the walk, back to the hotel. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.

Penthouse Suite, Hotel Ciasa Salares

Day 10 – After check-out, head to Ortisei in Val Gardena and check in at Hotel Adler.  Rest of the day and meals at leisure.

Day 11 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Val Gardena. Not only are the Dolomites a fantastic sight, they are also an unparalleled activity-filled paradise. Hikers, mountaineers, skiers and other sports enthusiasts have everything they could possibly desire in the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Enjoy lunch at leisure.  In the afternoon, follow your private guide on a tour of Bressanone (40 minutes by car from the hotel). Featuring a historic old town with beautiful arcades and winding lanes, Bressanone is the oldest town in Tyrol and a gathering place for guests with interests in culture. The many churches and chapels, the Cathedral and the Hofburg still bear witness to the historical significance of the city. The most important sacred building is obviously the cathedral, still the highest church in South Tyrol. An unmissable landmark in this area is the Abbey of Novacella, a splendid architectural complex with a labyrinth of structures, courtyards and walls showcasing Gothic, Baroque and Rococo elements from various epochs. Today the monastery is mainly known for producing some of the most highly regarded wines in Italy, featuring vast vineyards and a kaleidoscope of flowers and plants dotted among manicured greenery. Here you will enjoy a private guided tour and unique wine tasting experience immersed in nature.

Sightseeing tour in the city of Bressanone
Bressanone

At the end of the experience, back to the hotel in Ortisei.  Rest of the day and meals at leisure. 

Day 12 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Val Gardena. Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.

Day 13 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a half-day tour around Ortisei. Famous for its artistic wooden sculptures, which have been made here by generations of expert carver families, the artisans of Ortisei still continue to promote this art, producing furniture, toys and religious artefacts. Examples of this tradition may be seen at the Gherdëina Local Heritage Museum, whose collections include wood carving art of the last three centuries, old locally produced wooden toys, paintings by local artists, the local archaeology, the region’s fossils, minerals and the local flora and fauna (entrance tickets included). Rest of the day and meals at leisure.

Ortisei in Val Gardena - Dolomites
Ortisei

Day 14 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a half-day tour around Bolzano (1 hour by car from Val Gardena).  Green landscapes and lovely mountains frame the urban area of Bolzano, whose space is closely interwoven with that of nature. The city is a lovely mixture of cultural displays, open-air markets, restaurants, and high-end shops, with a traffic-free central area and a variety of colorful medieval, gothic and Belle Époque buildings. Your tour will include a visit to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to the so-called “Ötzi the Iceman” (a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC and the world’s oldest natural human mummy), and a private tour to two of the most prestigious wineries in Alto Adige (including wine tasting). Rest of the day and meals at leisure.

Day 15 – In the morning, meet you guide and head to Chiusa. Located in the very heart of the Isarco Valley, Chiusa is characterized by vineyards and chestnut groves lying on the sunny slopes which, together with the cliffs, scattered farms, verdant pastures and the characteristic localities, create a truly unique image and make it a very popular destination in the area. Here you will enjoy an easy walk through the historical center.

After this first stop, you will reach Bruneck. Heart and soul of the Puster Valley, a picturesque town and a popular tourist destination, with its notoriety reaching far beyond the region’s borders. Overlooking the town is the wonderful Plan de Corones mountain, which provides a marvelous view over the valley and houses the modern Messner Mountain Museum. Take some time during your visit to explore the museum.   After the tour, head back to your hotel in Ortisei and enjoy dinner at leisure.

In the morning, meet your private guide in the lobby and head to Merano. En route, you will stop at Cantine Sociali in Bolzano to enjoy a guided visit of the property followed by special wine tasting.

You will then continue to Merano. Immerse yourself in the Habsburg atmosphere of the town, walk past its arcades and colorful streets and discover the secrets it has to offer.

merano
Merano

At the end, take the wine road straight to Ortisei, but first stop in another famous cellar to enjoy a visit and wine tasting.

Day 17 – Check-out at Hotel Adler.

“A traveler who has visited all the other mountain-regions of Europe, and remains ignorant of the scenery of the Dolomite Alps, has yet to make acquaintance with Nature in one of her loveliest and most fascinating aspects.”

John Ball, Irish Naturalist and Alpine traveller

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