AC Palacio del Retiro, Madrid $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
The classy AC chain added this 50-room early-20th-century palace at the end of 2004, slightly competing with its own Santo Maurothough this one's got the location. Opposite the Parque del Retiro, the hotel is a short walk from all the renovated art museums and is quite plush, without a hint of history-porn (despite the marble pillars, plaster moldings, and mahogany library); it sidesteps self-conscious "Look at me" design, too. It's understated, coolly modern, and deluxe, with all the Wi-Fi and plasma, robes, spa (a very good one), and service a picky guest could ask for. The Índice restaurant has a rising star chef, David Herranz, at the helm.
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