Hotel Review: Silken Puerta América Hotel – Madrid, Spain
They say it only takes 7 seconds, on average, to form a first impression. As we step through the doors of the Silken Puerta América Hotel in Madrid, my brain does its computations at lightning speed, and in or around 7 seconds, my first impression is born: This hotel is going to be special.
One of Madrid’s 5 star luxury hotels, the Silken Puerta América, seeks to boldly house 19 of the world’s top architectural designers under one roof. Whilst some were tasked to put their personal touches in certain elements of the common areas, thirteen of these designers were each given a floor, and then; carte blanche.
What transpires is a design explosion! An awakening of the senses, where one is able to be transported from one incredible fantasyland to another, by a mere press of the elevator button.
The outer façade of the hotel already hints at its design interior. The high-rise is painted in a tie-dye effect of reds and oranges, adorned with lines from Paul Eluard’s poem “Freedom”. At night, the lighting details showcase these warm colored elements, making the hotel unmissable on the horizon.
As we made our way to the reception desk, I immediately notice the richly fragrant scent in the air. Our check-in though, is not as seamless as I would have liked. We wait for ages while the guests ahead of us are making their selection of which designer’s floor they prefer. With help from the reception staff, they are browsing photos and details on a dedicated iPad, whilst the check-in queue is getting longer.
It’s a nice touch, the use of an iPad to aid in the selection, but it does nothing to help the other guests who know exactly what they want. And we knew exactly want we wanted!
Having loved the work of Zaha Hadid since 2004, when she created a buzz by becoming the first female to win the acclaimed Pritzker Architecture Prize, I have had the pleasure of passing one of her pieces, the deeply convoluted Mobile Art Pavilion every day on my way to work, as it sits proudly outside the Institute du Monde Arabe in Paris, since completing its world tour in 2008.
Earlier discussions had us split between the Jean Nouvel floor, with his striking use of color and eclectic ceiling art; but in the end, we had decided on Zaha Hadid’s Space Club room. The room promised futuristic, contoured designs, in a choice of either black or white.
We finally complete the check-in procedures and make our way to our room. As the elevator doors open, we are immediately transported into an otherworldly space. The large Vortexx chandelier dominates the lobby. A beautiful design piece; the lamp appears as a winding, endless ribbon. We walk slowly to our room, appreciating the blinding white effects, coupled with the sinuous protrusions of the hallway.
Whitewashed, with The Vortexx taking centre stage
Stepping into our room, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before! The achromatic palette is a feast on the eyes. The lack of symmetry is staggering; there is no relief from the fluid-like curves in any direction. We explore the modulating bathroom, closet, and vanity as Mr. Wolf mutters under his breadth: “Welcome to the mothership”.
There are fine toiletries from Molton Brown in the bathroom, and the minibar is stocked with complimentary non-alcoholic drinks.
Forget the typical hanging ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs for the door; our room has a state of the art touchpad that can be used to illuminate a LED light on the outside of the door to signal everything from in-room breakfast, to “Please make up my Room”.
In case you’re wondering, the modernistic bed is firm, but immensely comfortable.
The design elements flowed into the space-age bathroom
During our stay, I insist on carrying out the hotel’s unofficial ‘challenge’: To snap a photo on each of the 13 floors. So, camera in hand I gleefully summon the elevator with a sense of pure excitement. At the Silken Puerta América, the lobby of each floor is the grand showcase that sets the tone for the floor’s design.
From the Art Deco inspired creations of Victorio & Lucchino, with their marble sphinxes; to the fire-truck red hallways of Mark Newson. From Kathrin Findlay’s alabaster leather benches shaped like amoebas; to Mariscal’s fun-inspired bunny shaped sculpture – there is a design to suit almost every taste.
Victorio & Lucchino’s Art Deco Inspired Lobby
“The world is round. Sometimes we are able to perceive”. Design by Ron Arad.
The Cactus, by Mariscal
Jean Nouvel’s Space
The most impressive of all? London’s Plasma Studio. With molten-like stainless steel twisted and contorted into geometrical shapes – the result is a 3-dimensional space that is almost science-fictional.
Overdosed on design, we step out into the sunshine, and spend the day taking in the sights and sounds of Madrid. The capital city of Spain has so much to offer in terms of history and culture. We spend the morning visiting the acclaimed Prado Museum, admiring many of Goya’s masterpieces.
For lunch we dine on tapas in a chic gastrobar before making our way to Parque del Retiro for an afternoon spent boating in the central lake. Throngs of teens are lazily chatting around the steps of the monument to Alfonso XII. Mr. Wolf takes the oars as I sit contentedly catching some rays.
Before we head back to the hotel, we have enough time for a quick tour to the ancient Egyptian temple of Debod, just as the sun is setting in the sky.
Sunset at Debod Temple
A highly anticipated part of my stay at the Silken Puerta América Hotel is a visit to the Jean Nouvel-designed Skynight Bar on the 13th floor. One of the swankiest places in Madrid to see and be seen in, the bar offers breathtaking panoramic views over the city. The bar/nightclub has become a popular hangout, as scores of Madrid’s stylish and beautiful people try to elbow their way in on the weekends. There are fear-inducing glass walkways on the perimeter of the bar: my idea of hell. Inside the bar however, the barman expertly whips up my order of two lychee caipirinhas: my idea of heaven.
Mr. Wolf braving the glass gangway
What I loved:
- Partnership between the design industry’s bigwigs is certainly not new concept, but the Silken Puerta América Hotel has taken collaboration to a new level. I loved that each floor provided a new and unique outlook. It was like having 12 different hotels under one roof!
- Molton Brown bath amenities
- Oriol Balaguer chocolates
What I didn’t love:
- The hotel’s location. Far from central, there is next to nothing to see, or do in the vicinity of the hotel itself. A rental car is recommended, or one can make use of the metro station a few hundred meters away for connections to the city cente
- The wait at check-in. This should never be a factor at a 5-star hotel. Period.
All things equal, I would certainly consider returning to the Silken Puerta América Hotel when in Madrid again. By simply choosing to book a room on a floor I hadn’t yet stayed on, I would be getting a unique experience, whilst being assured of the same great quality and service-standards I’ve come to expect from this hotel.
Disclaimer: No part of this vacation (travel, accommodation or otherwise) was paid for by Silken Puerta América Hotel. The views expressed in this review are from my own personal experience, and have not been prejudiced in any form.