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The Westin Palace Madrid is my “go to” hotel whenever I have the pleasure of being in Madrid. I’ve written about it before here, so I’ll keep this review short.
Basically I love this hotel for two main reasons 1) It’s centrally located and 2) They treat Starwood Platinum members like royalty. I’ve always gotten junior suite upgrades (which are some of the biggest junior suites I’ve ever stayed in). I have a lot of expat friends who live in Madrid, so it’s become a tradition to have a couple cocktails in the Palace before heading out for a night on the town. Some of them must think I’m a baller, but I just laugh inside knowing I laid out less cash for the suite than if I stayed at an upscale hostel! (The Cash and Points option is 4,800 points and $90 a night)
This past stay was a packed weekend – it was Orgullo (Gay pride) in Madrid and peak tourist season. I arrived to the hotel around 2pm, but was told my suite (score!) wasn’t ready – no problem – I had plans to go to a neighborhood pool with my friend. I came back around 5pm and it still wasn’t ready, so they gave me a regular room to relax/shower in until the suite was prepared. While this was a little bit annoying, I really appreciate the hotel accommodating me – most Starwood hotels would deny me the suite upgrade all together since the policy is that you only get one if it’s ready at time of check-in.
Here are pictures of my regular room while I waited about an hour to check into the executive suite:
Around 6:30 I got the call that my suite was ready and a bellman was sent up right away to help me make the move.
Upon entering suite number 559, I walked down a long entrance corridor and straight ahead was the living room with very traditional furniture and big windows looking out onto the Plaza de Cortes. The bedroom was a separate room off to the right, which was also sunny and had the similar ornate cloth wall/headboard like my last junior suite. The room was definitely worth the wait – it would be a great staging ground for 3 days of Orgullo fun in Madrid.
There was only one negative about my stay – there was a strange smell in the bathroom – similar to burnt hair. I thought it would go away after a day, but it didn’t. No big deal – I’ll trade off an odd smell for a suite upgrade any day of the week!
During this stay I also decided to finally splurge and try out their famous Sunday Opera brunch in the restaurant. I invited my best friend Lori who lives in Madrid, to join me in the experience. At 73€/$104 a person (plus drinks!), it would be the priciest brunch I’ve ever paid for, so that shows how much I like her! In all seriousness, I am very proud of her – she left a high paying NYC job in fashion to live in Madrid and teach English. She now has a fantastic Madrileno boyfriend and runs a great fashion/lifestyle blog, lifeandstylemadrid.com. Check it out and email her/comment on her posts if you ever need Madrid recommendations.
I have to say brunch was a very nice experience. It wasn’t too formal and the grand room with ornate dome is really awe inspiring. There wasn’t a menu – it was buffet style with a lot of fresh seafood and meats. The only thing that had me confused is that it wasn’t brunch at all – there weren’t any breakfast items. This was fine with me, because I usually go for the lunch items at brunch anyway, but there were no eggs or any breakfast-y options (that I saw). I just want to warn anyone who may go thinking they will have the option of dabbling in both breakfast and lunch – which is generally the appeal of brunch!
The opera singers were a nice touch, but at times a bit too loud for me. Overall, it was a novelty and I enjoyed it, but probably won’t do it again because there are so many other amazing food options in Madrid for a fraction of the price. We each had a glass of wine and the bill came to 162€ ($231). I think I should have asked for half off since they only served half of brunch! But seriously, for 72€ a person, I think it would be nice if a cocktail (or two) was included. Heck, for a quarter of that price you can get full brunch and all-you-can-drink mimosas in NYC at tons of restaurants!
The meal was very good – all of the food was high quality. I really liked their jamon Iberico and my friend explained that some ham legs can cost over 1,000€ and apparently what was offered at Opera brunch was top notch (it better have been!). Perhaps my favorite part of the meal was dessert – I really liked the chocolate fountain and skewers of fresh fruit.
In total, the Westin was yet another great experience and I can’t wait to return. Though I have to say I like having another points earning/burning option with the Intercontinental Madrid, which is a 5 minute cab ride away. There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.