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Madrid: Hotel ME, formerly Grand Hotel Reina Victoria

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ME at dusk. Credit ME website.

ME at dusk. Credit ME website.



Historic building

The Me Madrid is an upscale establishment in the heart of the old city, which opened its doors in October 2006. In spite of being one of the most chic, cool and in of Spain's capital, its charm consists primarily in having reused very tastefully all architecture of its predecessor, the Grand Hotel Reina Victoria.

Reina Victoria's construction started on 1919, on a space previously occupied by the Counts of Montijo and Teba's palace. Construction finished on 1923 and, as soon as it opened its doors, it began being frequented by aristocracy, diplomats and artists.



Artists and bullfighters

Most everyone in Madrid, or at least everyone that has any interest with historic locations, knows that Reina Victoria was, during the better part of the XX century, the center of the bullfighting world in Madrid, and Spain.

Arguably the best bullfighter of all times, Manolete, who died on the sand in 1947, always stayed in room 406. Luis Miguel Dominguín, Joselito and Rafael de Paula, among many other well-known names in bullfighting, used this hotel as residence when in town for a face to face with the bull in Las Ventas bullring.

This is also the hotel where Merimée started writing Carmen, and where Hemingway stayed many nights, even mentioning the hotel in one of his books.

The rebirth

The front face by night in the new ME

The front face by night in the new ME

The facelift for Sol-Melia was under British architect Keith Hobbs from United Designers and took place in 2005-2006. This was the first hotel in the ME brand, a new contemporary and urban concept by Melia to fuse design, international cuisine and cutting edge music. And glamour aplenty, chic abounds in the ME.

The brand made a statement at their grand opening night, inviting up to 1000 guests of all spheres of the social circles, from successful business people to international celebrities like Cindy Crawford or Elsa Pataky, including international DJ’s and rock bands for a night of fun and charm in the heart of the city.

The Penthouse: Rooftop to beat all rooftops

The Penthouse. Credit ME website

The Penthouse. Credit ME website

I already spoke of the Me Penthouse in my article about some of my favorite rooftop bars. It just bears repeating my devotion to this fabulous space. It's not like I'm a regular there, I've just visited a handful of times, but my breath stops and my stomach takes a plunge every time I step off the elevator and into the wood flooring of the Penthouse.

Rated in many fashion, design, and time out magazines as one of the best rooftop experiences in the world, quite rightly so in my opinion, the Penthouse is a place you shouldn't miss if you're ever in Madrid.

You will read here and there and everywhere that its frequented by fashionistas and glamorous guests dressed to the nines, and it's pretty much true especially in the weekends, but don't let that deter you. Smart casual will get you in without so much as a nod by the doorman, except if there is a private event upstairs, or if the place is full to the tilt. If you really want to ensure gaining access to The Penthouse, besides choosing smart casual attire, chose a weekday for the visit.

The views

The lighthouse lookalike tower, from Plaza del Angel

The lighthouse lookalike tower, from Plaza del Angel

Full side view, from Plaza del Angel

Full side view, from Plaza del Angel

What charms me the most about this beautiful building is that views from the top, producing a 360º panorama of Madrid that goes on for miles, compete and rather tie with the views of the building itself from the ground floor.

By day, this is a magnificent pure white structure in the eclectic style of the Modernism from the beginning of the XX century that combines traditional and modern elements. Its white walls, big bay windows and charming balconies with their wrought-iron railings that are shaped in the form of a wave, crowned by a tower in the shape of a lighthouse are enough to make one stop and look and, of course, snap a photo.

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By dusk and night the building acquires an ethereal quality, achieved by a precise, state-of-the-art purple lighting, combined with the orange glow of the lamp posts below. It simply fascinates me.

ME and the lamp lights

ME and the lamp lights

I'm lucky to live close by, and have the ME in my route to come and go from and to places. I'm lucky twice that in the thousands of sightings I've caught of the ME in all my years living in Madrid it still makes my heart swell and my fingers itch for a camera. Believe me, you want to see the ME if you're ever in Madrid.

Photos not credited to third parties are mine.


More Madrid

Atocha Train Station and its Unique Greenhouse

The Palace and the Ritz

San Miguel Market

Geomining Museum, the very best kept secret

© 2009 Elena.


Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on January 14, 2010:

Me too! :)

Elena. (author) from Madrid on January 14, 2010:

Lucky folks your parents :-) I hope they liked my pretty city! I hope you do, too, if you ever visit!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on January 14, 2010:

Hi Elena, I was editing the photos of my parents and their group and remembered you because they were able to go to Madrid. Such beautiful structures. :) Maybe someday I'd get to go there too!

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 30, 2009:

The photos are rather pretty aren't they, but of course it's difficult to go wrong with such a "model"! Takes my breath away, and I see this building very often, still it never fails to bow me :-)

Frieda Babbley from Saint Louis, MO on December 29, 2009:

I'm thinking I know where I should be vacationing from now on. The photos you took are amazing. You capture lighting and lights so well (not an easy thing).

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 29, 2009:

Hi, Cris! You're welcome to Madrid, if you want to move from vicarious to personal with all these places :-)

Las Ventas, don't think it didn't cross my mind to feature it in my Madrid series, but I'm not sure I can do it justice, as it's not a place with which I have a very close relationship. Hmmm, I'll think about it :-)

Cris A from Manila, Philippines on December 29, 2009:

What a feast for the eyes! Thanks for always taking us there with you even if only vicariously.

Btw, can feature a hub on the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas? I saw it during a Davis Cup tiff bet the US and Spain and it seems like a magnificent place. And oh Vamos Rafa! Haha

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 28, 2009:

My pleasure, Candie! I'm finding that I like to showcase my pretty town :-) Personally, I like to know the history of places that I visit, I think knowing about it endears them to me more. I'm planning a "mostly images" hub next. There's a lot about Madrid that deserves to be shown :-)

Candie V from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure! on December 28, 2009:

Elena, if you said nothing at all, and published only photos, "breathtaking" wouldn't be enough! To know the history of such places makes those of us far away feel a bit closer! Thank you!!

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 27, 2009:

They are, ethel, one of the best lookouts in the city, believe you me! :-)

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on December 27, 2009:

What a splendid building. The views from the top must be unbelievable

yt55500900 on December 27, 2009:

Very nice

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 27, 2009:

Hi Linda! Nice to see you, it's been a while :-) How was Christmas for you? Next year you can think of spending it Madrid, I'm certainly doing my best to showcase this pretty city of mine :-)

Francia, in the world we live in, I tend to agree that architecture is a cornerstone of the way western society is organized. I recently went to an exhibition of most works by Richard Rogers and he had very interesting thoughts on the matter, he was of a similar opinion to your friend the architect :-) Glad you enjoyed this!

franciaonline from Philippines on December 26, 2009:

Hi Elena,

These hotels are awesome works of art! According to an architect I know, architecture is the mother of the arts. Yes, indeed, if your hotels in Madrid are to be the reference point!.Your hotels are not just lovely. They're awesome. Ah, you would think they were not built by human hands! Thanks for this hub, Elena.

Elena. (author) from Madrid on December 26, 2009:

Howdo, Feline! You should see Madrid through your own eyes, I'm sure you'd love it here! Of course, if my little tidbits prompt you to at least dream about it, then I'm happy enough :-)

hafeezrm, you should take the time to visit, Spain's a wunneful country and Madrid is a wunnerful city. And I'm not viased. AHEM! :-)

hafeezrm from Pakistan on December 26, 2009:

Nice photo and description. I have been to Morocco from where Spain was quite near but I had no time as Morocco itself was big country.

Your hub has ignited me to go there.

Feline Prophet on December 26, 2009:

Ahh...lovely to see Madrid through your eyes Elena...your pictures are breathtaking as usual!

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