Night at the museum: Tempus checks into Madrid's Urban Hotel 5* GL
Tempus takes an trip to an enchanting Madrid hotel inspired by Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinean tribal masks and Tambaran totems aren’t exactly what you’d expect to find in the centre of Madrid, but Urban Hotel 5* GL isn’t your typical five-star hotel. The word “urban” gets a whole new meaning at this unique Art Deco property, which is, on first glance, as much a museum as it is a hotel. Located, fittingly, in the heart of Madrid’s museum quarter, the hotel’s designers cleverly juxtapose modern architecture with ancient statues and moody lighting to create an atmosphere that’s achingly hip, and totally different from its surroundings.
As we pass through the entrance and our eyes refocus from the blinding sunshine of the bustling city outside, it’s clear we’ve passed into another world. We wait to check in, armed with a complimentary glass of cava, and are encouraged to check out the artwork in the foyer. Three giant wooden totems tower over our heads, facing off with a pair of sizeable tribal statues (main image).
Above, ethnic masks resembling the skeletons of ancient birds fly overhead, lit up by natural light that floods down from the roof, reverberating off the sharp angles of the glass tunnel that cuts through the avant-garde property. This is our first glimpse of hotel’s worldly collection of art and sculptures, which can be discovered throughout the property from the lobby to the suites. It comprises 200 unique pieces acquired from auction houses across the globe or borrowed from world-renowned explorers and collectors such as Albert Folch, Jean Louis Roiseux and Jordi Clos.
The main collection, displayed in the public areas, comes from Papua New Guinea and consists of carved totems, painted ceremonial shields, masks and ethnic costumes. The guest rooms, meanwhile, showcase a variety of art from around the world, including jade Hindu carvings of Vishnu, wooden Buddhist sculptures from as far back as the 15th century, and Chinese paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Guests interested in seeing more can visit the hotel’s exhibition room.
When it comes to accommodation, visitors can choose from a variety of rooms and suites, all of which follow a similar theme – modern, dark and mood, with oodles of wood, glass and art. When offered the choice of two relative rooms, we selected a junior suite which featured dark wood panelling and black leather sofas lit up by bright paintings of Chinese noble families.
The bathroom was equally stylish, with dark walls, a large tub visable from the bedroom through the glass separating wall. Ours was an inner-facing suite, overlooking the foyer, but guests also have the choice of outer rooms facing the city. The best views, however, can be seen from the rooftop, where guests can find a small pool that’s open to guests and a bar, La Terraza del Urban, which wraps around two sides of the building. It’s here we enjoyed our first taste of Spain with a serving of tapas and cocktails, alongside a trendy group of locals – this alfresco spot is clearly a favourite
among the Madrid style set.