IN PICS: Madrid’s newest rooftop terrace bar has the best views of the capital

Madrid has its fair share of swanky rooftop terraces offering views across the skyline of the capital.

IN PICS: Madrid's newest rooftop terrace bar has the best views of the capital
All Photos: Riu Plaza Hotel.

It’s where the young hip crowds go to drink cocktails at sundown, where professionals meet for an “afterwork” and where parents take their 18-year-olds to celebrate a graduation.

It started with Bellas Artes and Palacio de Cibeles with their unrivalled views up the Gran Via and soon every hotel worth its salt was converting their unloved space once full of air conditioning units and TV aerials into a Scandi-vibed lounger-filled rooftop terrace.

Some offer swimming pools, others tempt with late night DJs, and now anyone who has spent a summer in Madrid knows that there is no better place to catch the evening breeze.

READ ALSO:  Madrid's best rooftop bars

So who would have guessed that yet another lofty spot could create such a buzz?

If you’ve been at the bottom end of the Gran Via recently you’ll have seen the crowds of people lining up to gain entrance to the Riu Plaza Hotel, the newest 5-Star establishment in the city.

The hotel opened its doors in September after a massive renovation within the Edificio España, a polemic building that epitomises Francoist architecture.

When the Edificio España was opened in 1953 it was Spain’s tallest building at 25 floors and with a height of 117 m (384 ft). Designed by General Francisco Franco’s favourite architect Julián Otamendi and his brother in the Neo-baroque style it took five years to build and was considered a “symbol of prosperity” of the Franco-era.

It then became a symbol of the Spanish real estate market’s collapse in 2008. After being sold off to an investment fund just before the bubble burst and standing empty for more than decade, it was then bought by Chinese investor Dalian Wanda for a third of the price, who after wrangling with the city authorities over planning permission, sold it on to the RIU Hotel group.

The hotel has been fully restored to accommodate 583 rooms, some suites with private terraces overlooking the Gran Via, and a swimming pool for guests on the 21st floor. But the cherry on top is the Sky Bar and 360º bar.

Free for hotel guests but open to everyone with an entrance fee of €5 before 6pm rising to €10 after, a lift will take punters up to the top floors where there’s a choice of swanky bar/nightclub ‘De Madrid al cielo’ on the 26th floor below and the open air 360º on the 27th floor.

The views are the best you’ll find in Madrid from every angle. Take in the impressive fortress that is Conde Duque and gaze over the jumble of Malasaña rooftops on one side, while the other gives unrivalled views of the Royal Palace and Casa de Campo stretching beyond to the distant mountain horizon.

Plus there’s views up the Gran Via and stretching all the way to Madrid’s Four Towers up in the business district.

But what has people extra excited is the glass walkway stretching between two wings of the building that gives the sensation of walking in the air – and provides the ultimate location for an instagram snap.






A post shared by Riu Plaza España (@hotelriuplazaespana) on Nov 1, 2019 at 7:07am PDT

Check out these pictures of the view from the top: 

Conde Duque on the left of the image and the towers in the distance.

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Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Almost 800,000 fewer UK holidaymakers have visited Spain in 2023 when compared to 2019. What’s behind this big drop?

Why are fewer British tourists visiting Spain this year?

Spain welcomed 12.2 million UK tourists between January and July 2023, 6 percent less when compared to the same period in 2019, according to data released on Monday by Spanish tourism association Turespaña.

This represents a decrease of 793,260 British holidaymakers for Spain so far this year.

Conversely, the number of Italian (+8 percent), Irish (+15.3 percent), Portuguese (+24.8 percent), Dutch (+4 percent) and French tourists (+5 percent) visiting España in 2023 are all above the rates in 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. 

German holidaymakers are together with their British counterparts the two main nationalities showing less interest in coming to Spanish shores.

Britons still represent the biggest tourist group that comes to Spain, but it’s undergoing a slump, with another recent study by Caixabank Research suggesting numbers fell particularly in June 2023 (-12.5 percent of the usual rate). 

READ ALSO: Spain fully booked for summer despite most expensive holiday prices ever

So are some Britons falling out of love with Spain? Are there clear reasons why a holiday on the Spanish coast is on fewer British holiday itineraries?

According to Caixabank Research’s report, the main reasons are “the poor macroeconomic performance of the United Kingdom, the sharp rise in rates and the weakness of the pound”.

This is evidenced in the results of a survey by British market research company Savanta, which found that one in six Britons are not going on a summer holiday this year due to the UK’s cost-of-living crisis.

Practically everything, everywhere has become more expensive, and that includes holidays in Spain: hotel stays are up 44 percent, eating out is 13 percent pricier, and flights are 40 percent more on average. 

READ ALSO: How much more expensive is it to holiday in Spain this summer?

Caixabank stressed that another reason for the drop in British holidaymakers heading to Spain is that those who can afford a holiday abroad are choosing “more competitive markets” such as Turkey, Greece and Portugal. 

And there’s no doubt that the insufferably hot summer that Spain is having, with four heatwaves so far, has also dissuaded many holidaymakers from Blighty from overcooking in the Spanish sun. 

With headlines such as “This area of Spain could become too hot for tourists” or “tourists say it’s too hot to see any sights” featuring in the UK press, budding British holidaymakers are all too aware of the suffocating weather conditions Spain and other Mediterranean countries are enduring. 

Other UK outlets have urged travellers to try out the cooler Spanish north rather than the usual piping hot Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol destinations.

Another UK poll by InsureandGo found that 71 percent of the 2,000+ British respondents thought that parts of Europe such as Spain, Greece and Turkey will be too hot to visit over summer by 2027.

There’s further concern that the introduction in 2024 of the new (and delayed) ETIAS visa for non-EU visitors, which of course now also applies to UK nationals, could further compel British tourists to choose countries to holiday in rather than Spain.

READ MORE: Will British tourists need to pay for a visa waiver to enter Spain?

However, a drop in the number of British holidaymakers may not be all that bad for Spain, even though they did spend over €17 billion on their Spanish vacations in 2022. 

Towns, cities and islands across the country have been grappling with the problem of overtourism and the consequences it has on everything from quality of life for locals to rent prices. 

READ ALSO: ‘Beach closed’ – Fake signs put up in Spain’s Mallorca to dissuade tourists

The overcrowded nature of Spain’s beaches and most beautiful holiday hotspots appears to be one of the reasons why Germans are visiting Spain in far fewer numbers. A recent report in the country’s most read magazine Stern asked “if the dream is over” in their beloved Mallorca.

Spanish authorities are also seeking to overhaul the cheaper holiday package-driven model that dominates many resorts, which includes moving away from the boozy antics of young British and other European revellers.

Fewer tourists who spend more are what Spain is theoretically now looking for, and the rise in American, Japanese and European tourists other than Brits signify less of a dependence on the British market, one which tends to maintain the country’s tourism status quo for better or for worse.