Detailed review by Praskipark
Finding a decent hotel in Madrid is sometimes difficult . A lot of the larger hotels are expensive and not always up to scratch. Whilst in other areas of Spain smaller hotels have changed drastically in style over the years the smaller and more distinctive establishments in the city of Madrid do not seem to have changed at all. In cities like Rome, Lisbon and Paris you can generally find a small, average-priced, decent hotel in the city just by looking on the web but Madrid is another matter altogether.
We thought we had come up trumps when we found the Santo Mauro hotel in a stylish city area of Madrid. From the outside the two-storey hotel is indeed very lovely and looks very French set in a large courtyard with old chestnut trees, manicured hedges and clean cut lawns edged with blooming borders. The residential area where the hotel is situated is very peaceful and quite charming. Apparently many a Spanish noble admired this area to live in and actually, the hotel once belonged to the Duke of Santo Mauro.
As you approach the entrance and pass through the porch made of decorative metal and cut glass you immediately get a feel of France and its 18th century grandeur. I just assumed that the rest of the hotel would be as stylish as the grand exterior, gardens and entrance but it wasn't. As I spoke to one of the uniformed staff on reception who wasn't rude but wasn't over welcoming I suddenly realised that this wasn't a privately owned hotel but a publicly owned chain. (AC Hotels to be precise). I didn't realise this in the beginning as it was somewhere we found whilst driving around Madrid.
Don't get me wrong the reception room is delightful, full of new city chic but not out of place in the building's giant decorative proportions. Modern materials and furniture have been skilfully used to blend in with the French style ceilings, Italian marble and ornate plasterwork. However, I found it all lacked a bit of the personal touch - it could have been any reception room in a French/Spanish hotel. I am sure if this hotel had been privately owned it would have had more of the human touch and I would have felt happier.
Our room was a double room (one of 14). You can choose a double bed or two singles in a double room. There are also 5 singles and 32 suites. All rooms have a bath/shower, phone, TV, CD player, modem connection, air conditioning and mini bar.
The design of our particular room was very modern with two colours only - white and chocolate brown. Floors were wooden which I liked and the bed and headboard were huge and dominated the entire room. The headboard was like a modern abstract - a wooden square surround with an inlay of white padded oblong cushions. Personally, I would have liked the headboard more if the padded inlay had been in a shade of orange or red. Brown is just drab. The bed's accessories consisted of a brown throw over and several large white pillows which my husband banished to the wardrobe straight away not being a fan of excessive cushions or pillows. Contemporary reading lamps were placed at each side of the bed head but they were very plain and nothing too elaborate. The only other furnishings in the room were a very nice chair in black leather and stainless style, in the Bauhaus style and a floor length mirror. I am always interested in design features and styles but I wasn't too keen on this style. It reminded me too much of the 70s and my mother-in-law's furniture. Also, I found the chocolate brown painted wall quite off-putting. I would have much preferred 4 white walls, no headboard and a few pieces of abstract art on the walls. Or the room would have looked more stylish if the decor had been kept in style with the period of the building.
However, the dining room/ restaurant is a magnificent room which was once the old library. On this particular stop over we had decided to have breakfast in bed as my husband was very tired through driving for many hours the previous day but having had a peep at this room when checking in we changed our mind and did go down for orange juice and coffee. We could have had a lot more to eat but neither of us 'do breakfast.' The food on display consisted mainly of fresh bread, rolls, croissants, fresh fruit and pastries. I particularly liked the way the fruit was artistically displayed. As well as breakfast, lunch and dinner can be eaten in the restaurant and I would say the menu looked to have an International style of cuisine with a gourmet flair. A little too pretentious for my palette although I did spot home-made hamburgers.
The wonderful thing about the restaurant is the fact that the room opens out on to the courtyard and its fairy tale garden.You can just imagine a Prince and Princess walking hand in hand down the paths of gravel and mosaics. The arched walnut bookcases are in immaculate condition as are the ancient leather bound books on their shelves. Chairs and tables have a contemporary look and actually work perfectly in this environment. You do feel that you are in a library. Lovely atmosphere to read the free morning papers in. Not just Spanish newspapers are on offer - English, French, German and Italian. I will add here also that the waiting staff were a lot friendlier and more helpful than the reception staff. They speak English as well as Spanish. Also I love the big walnut and glass mirror which is the central point of the room - check out the intricate carvings of grape vines at the top of the mirror - they really are delicate and very beautiful.
The Duke's palace originally had several ballrooms where the cream of Spanish society would visit regularly for a good old knees up. These superbly styled rooms have still kept some of the original features but have been turned into meeting rooms. Still, they are exceptionally fine rooms to hold a conference in especially as they look on to the garden and courtyard.
Other facilities in the hotel consist of an indoor swimming pool which is very attractive; sunken arched ceilings supported by steel pillars, walls painted in a jade and pale yellow giving a marbled textured effect. I would say the pool is medium sized - wider than it is long. The water was quite warm but not too hot. Just about right for me as I don't like the temperature of the water to be too hot - it makes my legs ache. When we used the pool we were the only two people swimming in the water. Some guests were sat under arches in lazy chairs reading. Dotted around the indoor pool are stands with bath robes and soft white towels. That's a nice touch, I have to say.
And for Mr and Mrs Fit there is a fitness room. It's years since I used the gym so I am never interested in fitness rooms but my husband does weights and he always has to have a go. He said the room was very large and under used. There are various exercise bikes and a variety of muscle toning equipment. Music is played all the time and a TV screen that shows videos so you can watch while you tone up. He enjoyed his time in the gym and thought the experience was a relaxed one - probably because he was the only one in there. There is also a sauna if you fancy one after vigorous exercise.
Okay, so what have I missed out. Children and pets. Children are made welcome as Spanish love kids but I don't really think this is a suitable hotel for young children as there is nothing to keep them occupied except the pool.
As for pets only small ones are accepted and I don't mean a pet mouse or gerbil. Small dogs only.
Some rooms have been especially adapted for disabled persons and there is a lift.
The hotel never closes its doors and the establishment does accept credit cards which include Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Diners Club.
You can find the Hotel Santo Mauro in the centre of Madrid. Address is Zurbano 36, and this is just off a semi-residential street, west of Paseo de la Castellana. The area is the Chamberi neighbourhood.
If you need to locate the hotel by using public transport two metro stops are close by; Alonso Martínez and Rubén Darío. The best place to get on the metro for this location is at the airport.
If you fancy a look round El Pardo, the Royal Estate and village is very nearby and the old sights of the centre. Shopping centres are on Calle Serrano and Paseo de la Castellana. The financial centre of the city is close by as is the Plaza Colon.
Price wise - this is quite an expensive hotel. We paid 190 Euros last year which didn't include breakfast. Breakfast is an extra charge of 29 euros (that's quite a lot for orange, coffee and a bread roll). There are special offers on throughout the year and if you book on-line and in advance then their is a 15% discount.
Did I think it was worth spending so much? Not really. The physical appearance of the hotel is splendid and I am glad the owner/manager has kept the original features. Although I love contemporary styles I didn't think that the old and the new blended that well in this instance. The garden and courtyard were lovely and my favourite room, the old library was delightful. The things that let the hotel down and spoilt my experience were the disinterested reception staff and the lack of personal touch. Although a beautiful building it didn't have a lot of warmth and I never felt at home there. Would I use this hotel again? Probably not . So my quest to find a good hotel in Madrid is still on.
AC Santo Mauro