Rooms with Views: The Principal

The stylish Principal hotel off the Grand Via in Madrid makes for a fashionable stay. 

The Principal hotel captures the true pulse of Madrid not to mention having real flair. Fitting in with the majestic embellishments of the buildings off the Gran Via the hotel sits in a prime position close to many of Madrid’s sights.

The first thing you notice when you arrive at the hotel is this feel of almost a private members club. The entrance is discretely on a side street and not on the main road. Then you go up the steps in the foyer to a desk where you give your name to the porter who then announces you to the check in desk on another floor. A bit complicated and confusing and perhaps even a bit unnecessary, but it does go with the trendy theme of being at an ‘it’ place.

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The public spaces are on the top floors of the hotel with contemporary grand type decor in dark neutrals and earth tones. The hotel includes a well touted formal dining room serving modern Spanish cuisine, a sitting room with bar, and a breakfast room. On their rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the city, is a hip and popular rooftop bar and seating along with a secluded sunbathing area with wading pool. The buzz of the bar made it a great place to spend aperitivo though its popularity also proved a hindrance. Fashionable types like to use the bar to book events and parties and unfortunately that does not include paying hotel guests! As we found out first hand when wanting to enjoy after dinner drinks we were told it was closed for a private party. We were then not offered an alternative and inquired ourselves where else we could have a drink and were told down in the sitting room bar which while cozy was very very quiet and a disappointment on a warm night where we wanted to be on the outdoor terrace. You would think as a paying guest you would be allowed to access the public spaces as many times that is one of the reasons you choose a hotel, because of what it offers you besides a room.

Speaking of rooms, for all the detail that went into the the public spaces we were expecting a very stylish room but were disappointed. While the rooms were pleasant they were very sparse and quite simple. Also incredibly small and tight quarters. If you opened the wardrobe you couldn’t walk around the bed. Yet we had too much unused space in the bathroom which was spacious but empty. No bathtub but a large shower, and they easily could have accommodated both in the bathroom or at least used the excess space to make the bedroom bigger. It seemed a bit odd. Bathroom products were also nothing special and for this type of hotel it might have been fun to have some trendy bath products to try.

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Service was a bit.. flat. It was alright in the sense they did their job but nothing beyond the minimum of what was expected. No effort… in anything really. Almost robotic of going through the motions and nothing more, it took away a sense of personality from the hotel. The concierge desk was looped in with the check in desk and that meant that there really was no one to give us any suggestions. We asked for restaurant reservations which we already picked, and while they were made for us, no extra information was offered to expand our choices. Instead of personal service, they offered up a local online city guide app for us to download, the information to which we found by way of an instruction card in our room.

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Overall I have to say while I liked The Principal it was lacking in areas of room comfort and service. You are paying for luxury hotel and instead getting more of a small boutique hotel establishment: high on style but lacking in personal service. And while the decor itself was attractive, it was not reflected in the rooms. Location wise it was great, near the Puerta del Sol and a 10 minute walk to the heart of the Historic Center. It was enjoyable and has a sense of fun it just may not be to every traveller’s taste.

Pros: Location for sure, and lots of style. A fabulous rooftop terrace -when you can get access to it. The fabulous people hang out here.

Cons: Rooms were small and tight. Service was minimal. The fabulous people hang out here.

Service: Not awful but I’ve had better. Staff was professional but not outgoing.

Rooms: Again, small, a bit basic and nothing exciting.

Extras: You’re in with the “In” crowd.

The Principal Madrid

Marques de Valdeiglesias 1 -off Gran Via 2

Please note, I paid for my own stay and my review is based on my personal experiences while staying at The Principal.