Hotel Puerta América, Madrid
Tel: 34 91 744 5400
Concierge.com's insider take:
This hugely ambitious project, in which 19 of the most prestigious names in architecture and design collaborated on a Jean Nouvel building, finally opened in 2005. The resulting 362 rooms are so cutting-edge they should carry health warnings. Among others, David Chipperfield, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, John Pawson, Marc Newson, and Ron Arad have designed rooms—some all-white and minimal (duh); some all-scarlet and curvaceous; some (Hadid's) all-white or all-black and sculpted from LG Hi-Macs (a kind of malleable Corian); others (Arad's) with a ten-foot circular sofa; yet more (Chipperfield's) with black terra-cotta beds canopied in lacquered blue material. Oddly, the owners, the Silken Group, whose hotels have been multiplying like triffids, claim to be all about service and comfort, with a side of design. While service is up to scratch, comfort is often sacrificed; some of the beds and showers are too small and chairs look good, but don't feel it. Go here if you're looking for the visual-sensual experience of inhabiting premier architectural space—and be aware that the world's most ambitious hotel is located between the airport and the city, so none too central.
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Any hotel designed by a posse of world-famous architects and interior designers will be either brilliant or cringingly gimmicky. Happily, the 342-room Puerta América ("The Next 7 Wonders," April 2006) falls squarely into the brilliant category, since it offers a way to inhabit some of Europe's most avant-garde spaces. The lineup of talent, each responsible for an entire level, from the basement parking garage to the thirteenth floor: Teresa Sapey, John Pawson, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, David Chipperfield, Plasma Studio, Victorio & Lucchino, Ron Arad, Marc Newson, Kathryn Findlay, Richard Gluckman, Arata Isozaki, Estudio Mariscal, and Jean Nouvel, along with Christian Liaigre, who designed the excellent restaurant. The most popular floor is Hadid's: Her all-white fiberglass rooms create the impression that you're inside a nautilus shell. A top-floor swimming pool, health club, and lounge deck offer the design maven guests who stay here a place to sweat or chill. 2006 Hot List
When to go: Spring or early fall.
Which room to book: One of Hadid's on the first floor (doubles, $204–$242).
Amenities: 24-hour Room Service, Bar/lounge, Gym, Pool, Spa