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TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss recently traveled to Madrid, Spain where he stayed at the ME Meliã Reina Victoria. Here’s his review on the property.
I love Madrid, it’s one of the most relaxed yet exciting cities in all of Europe, filled with wonderful little cafes and stunning architecture, and the Madrileño energy is simply infectious! Although I prefer to stay at an SPG property, TPG had already stayed at the Westin Grand, and since I didn’t want to use my SPG American Express (darn those foreign transaction fees!), I checked in with TPG European Correspondent Lori Zaino for some suggestions on places to stay. One of her top recommendations was the ME Meliã Reina Victoria in Plaza Santa Ana, which she mentioned in her ‘My Madrid’ piece last month, and is a property I’ve heard about for quite some time from others.
Pulling up to the property, you immediately take note of the size and scale of the building in relation to those in the area. It’s tall, and it’s both historic (built in 1932) and sexy, and painted a stark white that sets it apart from the colorful stucco and brick buildings surrounding it. The square it sits on, Plaza Santa Ana, is filled with 7 or 8 restaurants that are teeming with people; there’s music playing, people running around, and I immediately knew we were in a great spot. Right ahead of me was the SkinC Supplement Bar where I could get a quick manicure or set up an appointment for a massage at the spa in the basement. To the right was Ana La Santa Restaurant, and a lounge area filled with fashion books and art.
When I arrived around 10 am, there was a very long line to check into the property, as well as a long line of those checking out, so I opted to check my bags with the bellman, walk around, and have some food to kill time. After a few hours I returned to find no line, and I spoke with an agent who assisted me with my reservation. I had originally booked the room through Kayak at a low rate of $150 per night for their lowest room type, the Aura room. However, when I arrived at the front desk, I simply asked for an upgrade and was given a Mode room, two levels up with a room overlooking the square. Travel Tip: It never hurts to ask for an upgrade! Just smile and see what it gets you, no harm no foul!
I entered my brightly lit room to find a comfortable king bed, a few globe lights, and what they call a Maxibar (because nothing is mini at the ME!), stocked with the essentials, and windows that opened up to the Plaza below. Well, they didn’t actually open fully, although the internal windows opened, the exterior windows from the facade of the building stayed shut.
The room also had a sprawling desk, TV, and a pretty great sound system with a subwoofer. I tried not to anger my neighbor at late hours playing my music through the cord that connected to my iPod, but needless to say, the system served a great purpose when I was getting ready to head out for the night. I thought that the globe lights located throughout the room were a bit odd at first, but in the evening when I was able to dim them, I realized that their 360 degree light emission (versus a standard lampshade) was quite beneficial for setting the mood.
The bathroom featured a stand-up shower with wall jets that could be positioned all over your body, quite helpful after a sweaty day in the ciudad. The mirror featured the phrase “Oh You Pretty Things” which is attributed to David Bowie.
Floor-to-ceiling windows provided tons of light into the room, and even though the sun started setting after 10 pm and it stayed light for a while thereafter, it was a welcome change from the NYC sun I’m used to.
As I had been upgraded to a Mode room, my view was upgraded as well to one of the Plaza Santa Ana below, and although I was on the 2nd floor (technically the 3rd since ground floors in Europe are considered floor 0), the view was still pretty stunning. As I mentioned, there was a minibar/Maxibar, which featured fairly reasonable prices for items within, though I only treated myself to a bottle of water and a bottle of beer throughout my stay.
I have stayed in the ME Meliã Cancun (there are only four other properties in the ME by Meliã brand family, the others being in London, Mallorca, Cabo and Ibiza), and I knew that there would be subtle touches to set itself apart from the other Meliã properties. One that I spotted immediately was the light panel next to the desk and one near the bed. On it, I was able to control the many lights in the room, and then I noticed a button that simply said “hey you sexy thing”, and when I pushed it, much to my surprise, a fuschia light started glowing both above the desk and my bed…cheeky indeed ME…
Amenities & Dining
The hotel’s lone restaurant, Ana La Santa served both inside and outside in the square to the left of the hotel, and my friends and I dined under the umbrellas our first afternoon. The options were limited at best, but the club sandwich I had (I know, not very Spanish) hit the spot, and their version of Tinto de Verano (a favorite of Lori’s) was lemony and refreshing. Madrid on the whole is an inexpensive city, though dining in any restaurant attached to a hotel will always cost more then the norm. I highly recommend walking about 15 feet out the front door and dining at Lateral in the plaza (another recommendation of Lori’s); they have some stellar tapas, including great albondigas (meatballs), fantastic croquettas and the best Tinto in the city. However, other than Ana La Santa and food on the roof, there’s only room service available, and not many other amenities. The property does not have a gym, but staying at the hotel garners you access to The Club Metropolitan gym next door.
As Lori mentioned in her post, the Penthouse at the ME Melia Reina Victoria is the place to get a rooftop cocktail. With sweeping views of the Plaza Santa Ana and the rest of Madrid, it’s hard to imagine a better place to drink or dine under the stars.
With it’s convenient location near the Puerta Del Sol, the Prado and the gorgeous Retiro park, the ME Melia is a fantastic choice. I had looked at many options in the area, and at only $150, it would be hard to find an upscale, fun and funky property at the same price level. The rooms were bright and airy, the beds were fantastically comfortable, and the jets in the shower provided me with a great cool down from the Spanish sun. The ME brand has a similar vibe to W Hotels; both brands share the same cheekiness, subdued sexual context, and flair for design.
We strive for fair and balanced reviews of properties here at TPG; however, since I don’t have too many misses to mention for the hotel, I honestly had to ask my friends for any negatives. Of the 6 of us who had rooms, we all had incredibly positive experiences, and it was a struggle to find many negatives; the hotel was quite grand. The fact that the hotel doesn’t have a pool is not a surprise in Madrid, as it’s not a common amenity at hotels. One bad note was that the room service was not so great (I would definitely stick to Lateral across the street in the plaza). My friend ordered pizza that was salty and barely edible, and his tray sat outside his room for 2 days. Other than that, really no negatives!
As I mentioned, I have stayed in a ME Meliã property before, so I knew what to expect from a quality and branding perspective and I was not let down. There are tons of properties in Madrid to stay at, but for the money and the location, you really can’t beat it. Service was great, and a big thanks to Miriam at the front desk for going above and beyond in the customer service department.
How To Use Your Points
As I didn’t use the SPG American Express, my option was to pay for the room using my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, so I got 2x the points on my room. Meliã has their own loyalty program called MeliáRewards, and signing up for the program gives you access to discount rates for the 8 brands under their family portfolio, including the ME properties. Random promotions pop up as well, the current one being a €20 credit per day per room when you book on melia.com.
The rewards program itself isn’t too bad and it’s free to sign up for, and points transfer to American Airlines, FlyingBlue (KLM, Air France) and Lufthansa’s Miles & More, among others. The transfer ratios aren’t all great (6 points to 1 mile on AA, etc.), but at least there are options available
Have you stayed at any Meliã hotel before? Share your thoughts in the comment below!