The idea of a themed hotel sounds twee in words, but if executed thoughtfully and with a playful approach, it can be decidedly successful—even sophisticated. The latter is certainly the case with the new Only YOU hotel in Madrid: Only YOU Atocha. From sport-themed artwork in every room, to a ping pong bat covered wall and the all-important retro-tinged gym, the entire hotel is subtly sporty—without feeling like it’s gimmicky.
Throughout the hotel, various endearing touches are apparent; from the cozy plaid blankets in the bedrooms to light-box signs and various textures in every space—differently patterned tiles, exposed brick, wood. After our stay in January, just a few weeks after the hotel’s opening, we spoke with Lázaro Rosa Violán, the designer who took the long-abandoned building and made it warm and buzzy, without it being overwhelming. He says the client was looking for something unlike their other Madrid location and wanted “a sporty, fresh, and urban feel.”
Despite its overarching theme, Only YOU Atocha’s most obvious characteristic is its community-driven vibe. The ground floor was created to attract locals just as much as guests as a place to settle in for an afternoon or night. With reception at the very back, the space feels more like a meeting place than a hotel foyer. (Violán’s favorite corner of the hotel is the reception, with its backlit relief maps.) Not only is there tall bookshelf stacked with books to borrow, there’s a cafe, outdoor/indoor seating area and the Trotamundos restaurant and cocktail bar—all sharing the same bright and airy space. The restaurant—with a menu developed by Chef Javi Mora—offers plenty of options from snacks to full tasting menus (we suggest the Costillas BarbasPoonk, cinnamon-spiced ribs). Wildly popular with locals, travelers and hotel guests alike, the bar is busy until 2AM on weekends (unsurprisingly less so on weeknights) and the cocktails are impeccable. Violán says having this large, multi-functional space make sense design-wise meant choosing “the right wall coverings, fabrics, eclectic furniture style, and achieving a warm lighting scheme that provided the sense of comfort for whomever used the different functions of the ground floor.”
Unlike the buzzing ground floor, guest rooms are sanctuaries—quiet and cozy—with everything hotel regulars would expect. Violán says, “Comfort and warmth were key features we achieved in the bedrooms through the use of colored tiles, exposed brick and natural wood.” This feeling of warmth is accentuated by the use of plaid in some of the furnishings, which works perfectly and stops short of seeming like it belongs in a log cabin. The lighting in junior suites is also thoughtfully executed, with seemingly countless options depending on your mood. Especially eye-catching is the vanity mirror, surrounded in classic Hollywood style by lightbulbs. Small but important additions include big, cozy robes; comfy slippers; and, as well as the expected hairdryer, a straightening iron.
Working your way further upstairs, on the roof, is the YOUniverse Terraza restaurant where guests can eat breakfast and brunch all day long (with everything from mini pastries to jamon, fruit, cheese and house-made bread and butter). Outside, a long terrace provides plenty of room for anybody wanting some fresh air or to take in the view while sipping on a coffee or a cocktail. With hanging plants, vintage butcher’s scales, carts and a black and white tiled floor, it’s laid-back—thanks in part to its untraditional hours—which makes it easy to spend the morning there. Violán says this mood was possible because “every piece of furniture and lighting fixture was specifically designed to fit the style of the hotel. Special attention was given to everything.”
Between the bustling cafe, clinking of drinks in the bar, friendly staff, gym, book sharing and live music in the indoor/outdoor space, it would be far too easy to stay put at the hotel. Luckily, the location is across the street from Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a short walk from the sprawling Real Jardín Botánico, and a 15-minute stroll to the center of Madrid.
To reserve a room at Only YOU Atocha (available in Deluxe, Premium, Junior Suite or Terrace Suite) visit their website. Stay tuned for our Word of Mouth, Madrid for things to do while visiting the Spanish capital.
Guest room image courtesy of Only YOU, all others by Cool Hunting