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.
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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.
Check out these pictures of the view from the top:
Conde Duque on the left of the image and the towers in the distance.