Historic Madrid hotel celebrates special anniversary

Toward the end of last year, the landmark Palace Hotel in Madrid celebrated a very special anniversary. The hotel opened its doors for the fist time in October 1912, just six months after the sinking of the Titanic, and one hundred years have now passed since the hotel started welcoming the cream of European society to the capital of Spain. Built at the express wishes of King Alfonso XIII, since opening, the hotel has played host to a wide range of eminent people including presidents, famous actors and actresses, artists, ministers of all sorts and even spies.

The early years of the hotel coincided with the First World War, then came the ‘Roaring 20s’ and celebrities like Josephine Baker, Carlos Gardel, Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel and Federico García Lorca all stayed at the hotel and made frequent appearances at the hotel bar. Albert Einstein stayed at the hotel in March 1923.

The start of the 1930s saw the period of the Republic in Spain and the most famous politicians of the day would regularly meet in the rooms of the hotel. Turbulent times ensued, and, as the Spanish civil war exploded, the hotel, which until then was known the for its splendour and glamour, became a field hospital and although no bombs fell on it, the Palace Hotel fell into a state of some disrepair.

After the war in Spain ended, it took the Palace more than a decade to reestablish itself on the map of outstanding European hotels. At the end of the 1940s Margarita Cansino, better known as Rita Heyworth, made the hotel her retreat to get away from the Hollywood limelight, and during the 1950s other famous actors like Cary Grant often frequented the Palace.

The era of the 1960s and 70s was marked by the stays of cabin crew from Pan Am and Iberia and also the installation of a huge neon light on the roof of the building, which makes the hotel visible to any tourist or Madrileño walking along the Paseo del Prado. In the 1980s and 90s the most famous visitors were politicians and Prime Ministers like Felipe González and José María Aznar.

During all this time the Palace has maintained and old and intense rivalry with the Ritz Hotel to be considered the most glamorous hotel in Madrid. Its lounges and dining rooms are still a point of reference for posh gatherings, celebrations and dinners. It remains a hotel of choice for modern-day celebrities like Sigourney Weaver, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan staying when staying in Spain.

This entry is filed under Madrid Hotels.