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The Westin Palace Madrid and Arcade Restaurant Review

by on March 24, 2011 · 9 comments

in Starwood, Trip Reports

Madrid is one of my favorite cities in the world – definitely within the top three. I love the culture, food, lifestyle, history, art and people. Even though my Spanish isn’t perfect, people have always been extremely welcoming and aren’t afraid to open up and show me a good time. In fact, I firmly believe the nightlife in Madrid is some of the best in the world. Whenever I’m out in Madrid, I always seem to stay out until the sun rises – something I never do in NYC.

No matter what you want to do in Madrid, be it visit famous museums like the Prado or Reina Sofia – or simply take in the vibe of the city, the Westin Palace Madrid is an excellent place to stay. It’s centrally located, so it’s only a short walk to popular neighborhoods like Sol and literally a stone’s throw from the museums.  It’s also near several metro stations, so taking the metro from the airport is easy.

I’ve stayed at this property numerous times as a Starwood Platinum and I’ve always been treated like a king. I’ve never had to wait to check-in, even when arriving before noon and I’ve always been upgraded to a suite. And I’ve only ever redeemed for cash & points at $90 and 4,800 Starwood points a night- an incredible deal since this hotel is almost always 200 euros ($280)+ per night in the off season and 250+ ($350) in the summer.

I like the Palace because it is elegant without being too stuffy. While furnishings are not modern and are perhaps a little bit dated, I find the property to be very comfortable and charming.

Lobby

The hotel is 6 floors with the top being the Starwood Preferred Guest Floor. Once off the elevator, there is a small lounge area with a couch and green apples. The hallways are decorated with green marble and dark wood and the smell is a Spanish twist of your typical Westin white ginger fragrance.

6th Floor Elevator Area

For this stay, we were assigned my favorite room- 624, which has a private terrace with fantastic views and is located right underneath the lighted Palace Hotel sign.

When you walk into the foyer, there’s a small seating area and there were two bottles of complimentary still water and glasses. You then enter the living room, with a somewhat old-school sofa, flat screen TV and CD Player radio (they really just need to get a Bose iPod dock). There’s also the door to the terrace, which is locked. In order to get it unlocked, you have to sign a lengthy waiver and have a maintenance man come in with a ladder and make some adjustments. I suppose they are ultra-sensitive to people breaking in if people leave the door open.

Sitting area near entrance

Living room

Looking into bedroom from living room

The bedroom is spacious, with interesting artwork and decorations. It’s definitely not modern style, but I like it – it’s a nice change up from your typical, predictable Westin.

Bedroom- not your typical Westin decor!

View of the plaza from the master bedroom windows

The bathroom is attractive, with a strong heavenly shower, tub and a toilet area with bidet.

Bathroom

Etching on door to toilet

Shower

Overall it was a spacious room, great for entertaining a couple friends before we hit the town until the wee hours of the morning. In fact, on my last night there, we were out so late, we ended up just going straight to the airport in the morning for our 9am flight. The crazy thing was that we actually had to excuse ourselves at 4:45am, so we could pack and get to the airport in ample time – our group of Spanish friends went on well past our “early” exit!

To see how our flight home went and pictures of the impressive Iberia lounge at Madrid airport, check out this report. For a review of our stay at Le Meridien Barcelona and a review of Commerc 24, click here.

View from the balcony at night

Pretty cool to have a cocktail right under the Palace Hotel sign

A beautiful sunrise.. too bad we had to go home

Another memorable aspect of the Madrid trip was our dinner at the non-descript, but incredibly delectable restaurant, Arcade (Calle Alcalá 84). I thought the name was funny since it was an authentic Gallician food restaurant and at first glance it looks like any other cerveceria (tapas bar), but it turned out to be so much more.

One of my best friends (who I actually met on a US Airways flight to Madrid 6 years ago) now teaches in Madrid and runs a great Madrid fashion blog, lifeandstylemadrid.com, so I’m very fortunate to have an insider to show me all the good, unknown places. Her boyfriend, a Madrileno, is also an excellent resource and his friend happens to own this restaurant. We were treated like family for the entire meal, though I watched how other groups were treated and it was all the same – solid service all around.

Unpretentious was what I wanted and that’s what I got. The restaurant has a basic bar area in the front and a casual dining area in the back. I won’t lie, it was hard to quell my snobbiness and in the beginning I was skeptical that the food would be able to blow me away. Well, fortunately it did – from the beginning until the very end.

Gallicia is the northwestern province of Spain, which is directly north of Portugal and is mostly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, so not surprisingly, their food is very seafood-centric. This was great for me, because there’s not much from the sea that I won’t eat. In fact, Arcade gets shipments of Atlantic seafood everyday, which makes sense because everything served was beyond fresh.

We started off with typical tapas – serrano ham, fresh bread, huge green olives and bread with a tomato spread.

Then came an octopus and potato dish with paprika-ish spices. Delicious – my only critique was that it was just a little too salty.

Octopus, potatoes and spices with the tomato spread bread

Then came the huge, succulent garlic butter prawn. I generally don’t like shell-on shellfish, but this was an easy exception. The shell slid off easily and the prawn was so substantial, that it made the minor effort well worth it.

Garlic prawn

Then came one of my favorite dishes: the razor clams in a lemon garlic parsley broth. I could have eaten 50 of these!

Razor clams

My main entree was a monkfish with shrimp and some sort of eel topping. Anyone have a clue what they are called? All I know was that the entree was absolutely delicious. Every single bite of the fish was fresh and flavorful and the sides were simple potatoes, tomatos and onions. It wasn’t fancy, but it was simply delicious.

Fresh fish and shrimp entree

The other main entree choice was a clam and shrimp medley with white asparagus and hard boiled egg. This was good, but my fish was better.

Clams, shrimp, asparagus

Dessert was a fried churro of sorts with ice cream. A sweet way to end a garlicky meal.

However, before I knew it there was Spanish singing and yet another dessert was being brought out- a classic Duncan Hines “American” birthday cake my friend made for me. Apparently doing super-American things like this are really fun for ex-pats! The cake was actually good, but what I most enjoyed watching the restaurant staff marvel at it, since they had never seen such a creation.

Quintessential American birthday cake

In summary – if you want a super authentic, delicious and reasonably priced Spanish meal- Arcade is for you. You probably won’t find any tourists there, but that was the main appeal for me.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • http://www.lifeandstylemadrid.com Lori

    Love the post. Those eel things are called GULAS in spanish (it´s funny…gula translates to my favorite of the 7 deadly sins…gluttony!!!!) but I don´t know if they have another name in english.

  • http://blog.primelinkinsurance.ca/ Smart Travel Scribe

    Glorious!

  • Parag

    The Points Guy,

    We are currently in Madrid. Took advantage of that Delta deal. We will definitely hit up this restaurant. What are your recommendations for nightlife in Madrid? Thanks

  • David

    Just got back from Madrid in JAN/FEB, and after some hunting, I found that http://www.eltenedor.es is a good place to track down dining deals. I think they are owned by Tripadvisor, but they are kind of like a Spanish opentable.com.

    In any case, I booked a 5-course tasting menu at Ex Libris (very highly rated on Tripadvisor) for something like $25 USD. SO CHEAP!!!! It was great, too. Traditional Spanish dishes with a splash of new wave/modern. http://www.restauranteexlibris.com/eng/exlibris.html

  • marc lannoy

    Buenos dias
    On behalf of all the associates of the Westin Palace, Madrid thank you for your nice review
    Saludos y hasta la proxima !
    Marc Lannoy
    General Manager

  • The Points Guy

    Marc- thanks for running such a fantastic property. I look forward to many returns!

  • robert

    so funny i’m staying there next weekend!!! and I booked under the same cash and points as you!!! so excited!

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