Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques in Madrid

This winter marks a major celebration at one of the world’s finest art galleries. Madrid’s Museo del Prado first opened its doors on November 19, 1819, and in the 200 years since has established itself as a true cultural heavyweight. Occupying a grand location in a city that has inspired some of history’s most revered artists, the Prado’s myriad rooms house Spanish greats including Francisco Goya and Diego Velásquez as well as major works by the likes of Rubens, Titian, El Greco and Hieronymus Bosch. Plus, alongside the nearby Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Museo Reina Sofía, the Prado forms part of a “golden triangle” of art, marking Madrid out as a must-visit for culture fans.

Roof Terrace at the Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel

For visitors seeking a suitably storied place to stay within the city, the sophisticated Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques hotel lies in the historic district of Austrias. Once one of Europe’s most important convents, this stately pile was later incarnated as the palatial residence of the Dukes of Granada de Ega and Villahermosa. Although subsequently snapped up by the Gran Melia group, the dukes’ passion for one of the city’s most famous artists, Diego Velásquez – a key figure in the Spanish Golden Age – remains on display.

Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel Courtyard

Spanish architect Alvaro Sans was charged with remodelling the space into a 180-room hotel and his award-winning design, which pairs historic details with contemporary updates, includes replicas of some of the painter’s best known works, including Las Meninas and The Surrender of Breda, which adorn the walls of the common areas and suites. The hotel’s luxurious rooms feature sumptuous fabrics and a subtle palette that reflects the hues used in Velasquez’s work, offering sanctity from the city outside and a sophisticated base for exploring the city.

Hotel Reception at the Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel

The hotel’s crown is its glorious roof terrace, which boasts views across the city and has the welcome addition of a swimming pool – perfect for relief from the summer heat. From deck chairs and loungers, it’s possible to pick out Madrid’s major landmarks, including the nearby Royal Palace, the Teatro Real and the Almudena Cathedral, accompanied by bar snacks and cocktails. More substantial fare of the highest order can be found at the hotel’s three in-house restaurants. Renowned culinary duo the Hermanos Torres, who won a Michelin star in Barcelona, have brought their elevated take on Spanish cuisine to the capital – think suckling pig and marinated Gallegan beef – at Dos Cielos, which is set in the former stables.

Dos Cielos restaurant at the Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel

Elsewhere, the Montmartre bistro takes its visual cues from the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition and offers a sophisticated menu that blends French and Spanish influences alongside an expansive wine list. Finally, the marble-clad Coroa lounge bar and restaurant stretches across the ground floor and into an elegant courtyard garden, which acts as a serene setting for breakfast, tapas and light bites throughout the day.

Coroa Restaurant at Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel

Other facilities for guests include a fragrant Thai wellness centre, which various treatments and massages and a small but well-appointed gym, which is open 24 hours. And for those keen to embrace the good life even further, signing up for the Gran Melia’s Red Level membership – a feature available across the brand’s hotels – allows access to a private reception, lounge and garden, as well as additional services to elevate your stay while exploring the Spanish capital.

Hotel suite at Gran Melia’s Palacio de Los Duques Hotel

This summer saw Diego Velasquez’s legacy play out in the streets of Madrid, with 80 artistic interpretations of his famous Las Meninas figures, including several sponsored by the Gran Melia group, appearing across the city in celebration of one of the city’s most famous sons. And now, with the Prado’s birthday just around the corner, there has never been a better time to explore Madrid’s artistic heritage.

 By Ben Olsen 

Classic room from €320 per night. Red Level deluxe room from €510 per night