Best Hotels in Spain
Not only are these properties alluring destinations unto themselves, but they put travelers in the heart of the action. So set out to explore from one of these standout hotels, as selected by readers in our annual World's Best Awards survey.
No. 1 Hotel Ritz, Madrid, Spain
This 1910 grande dame was constructed by César Ritz near the Prado and has a lavish Belle Époque style, from the soaring ceilings to the antiques throughout. Fuel up with brunch on the hotel’s enchanting tree-shaded terrace then head over to Rafael Moneo’s extension to the Prado Museum.
No. 2 Hotel Alfonso XIII, Seville, Spain
In 1928, King Alfonso XIII of Spain commissioned what he hoped would be the most luxurious hotel in Europe. With 147 rooms and miles of marble, mahogany, and hand-painted tiles, the results couldn't have been disappointing. Find yourself in the bar after a bull fight for some excellent people watching with the locals.
No. 3 Hotel Arts, Barcelona, Spain
Stay in this tower of blue glass and steel that rises 44 stories in Vila Olímpica (the Olympic Port) with stunning views of the city, water, and Frank Gehry's Fish sculpture. Some Catalonians find American architect Bruce Graham's ambitious design a bit too, well, American for their tastes, but visitors will welcome the many amenities, notably the efficient check-in. The lobby affords an always-entertaining scene, as do the pool and alfresco restaurant, which have impressive views of both sea and skyline. There's also a well-equipped gym, a feature that cannot be found in other hotels (perhaps because chain-smoking remains this city's favorite form of exercise).
No. 4 Westin Palace, Madrid, Spain
Built at the behest of the king in 1912, the luxurious Palace was the place to stay for decades afterward. The sheen has never really worn off, thanks to its location just off the Paseo del Prado and to its grandeur, apparent in the marble-floored lobby and the rotunda room with its massive stained-glass cupola. Top hat–clad doormen stand dramatically at the front entrance to welcome guests. The 467 rooms and suites (junior, executive, and royal) provide luxury points for every palate, though rates can zoom up to $1,200 a night (or $7,000 for the top-floor royal suite). One annoyance: lower-priced rooms are levied a hefty hourly charge for Internet service, free in pricier rooms.
No. 5 Hotel Claris, Barcelona, Spain
The highlight here is not the service (if you check out during prime time, you may learn a few Catalan obscenities from the harried staff)—rather, inexplicably, it's a second-floor museum of Egyptian artifacts and the Andy Warhol portraits in the East 47 restaurant. A small but sleek rooftop pool accessible by futuristic glass elevators proves more popular with guests than does the downstairs broom-closet-sized "business center." The even smaller, glass-enclosed "gymnasium" is simply a stair-climber and two exercise bikes. On the bright side, the rooms are filled with original artwork and unexpected accents of rich color, such as deep-purple bedspreads and matching curtains. Located one block from the bustling Passeig de Gràcia, the late-night traffic can be noisy; book a room on the fifth or sixth floor for a quieter stay.
No. 6 Le Méridien, Barcelona, Spain
Location is the major draw at this La Rambla property. The hotel has easy access to the city’s harbor, the Gothic Quarter, and Plaza Cataluña, among other top tourist destinations. Each of Le Méridien's contemporary rooms is outfitted with soundproof windows (key in such a lively neighborhood) and spacious bathrooms with etched glass details. Guests can dine at Cent Onze, which serves French and Catalan cuisine, and sample the hotel's new signature breakfast developed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Other hotel amenities include Discovery Spa and Sunbathing Terrace and 24-hour concierge service.
No. 7 InterContinental, Madrid, Spain
Modern glass-and-brick hotel on Madrid’s storied Paseo de la Castellana, with a prime location for business (the hotel is a stone’s throw from the financial district) and excellent service. Business becomes a pleasure if you splash out on the 930-square-foot Royal Suite, which has a terrace and views of the Paseo de la Castellana.
No. 8 El Palace Hotel, Barcelona, Spain
Built in 1919, but renovated in 2004, this Eixample neighborhood hotel is near several major attractions: Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gràcia, The Picasso Museum, and Museum of Modern Art. Beyond the wrought iron gates, guests find a grandiose property, complete with chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and ornate patterns. The hotel’s 125 rooms feature early 20th-century décor, antique furnishings, fireplaces, marble bathrooms, and heated towel racks. Dine on Catalan cuisine at Michelin-starred Caelis Restaurant or international dishes at AE Restaurant (designed like a Parisian brasserie), and then head to the hotel's Rien de Rien bar for a drink and jazz.
No. 9 Hotel Majestic, Barcelona, Spain
The Neoclassical Hotel Majestic is located at the center of Barcelona amidst the city's most popular Modernista architecture: the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera, and Casa Batlló. Built in 1918 and renovated in 2011, this Eixample district property is decorated in 1920s Vanguardista art and features 340 rooms with neutral tones, black upholstery, and marble bathrooms with rain-effect showerheads. Entertaining evenings may be spent at Las Ramblas, a 10-minute walk away, or at the hotel's rooftop bar—the Patricia Urquiola-designed La Dolce Vita—where guests sip cocktails and DJs spin bossa nova tunes. The hotel's Condal Restaurant also serves Mediterranean cuisine.
No. 10 W Barcelona, Spain
Like a slice of Dubai plunked amid the formerly modest fishing enclave of Barceloneta, this gleaming 26-story W (which opened in October 2009) resembles a giant glass sail at the end of the Port Vell pier. The setting ensures that nearly all of the 473 rooms have spectacular views of the Barcelona shoreline—though the panorama is just about the only thing Spanish about the property. Everything here—from the rooms’ blandly stylish international décor to the slick rooftop bar to the Mediterranean fusion served at the Bravo restaurant—is designed to appeal to a generic modernist-chic sensibility.