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BAR Studio reinvigorates a Madrid icon with some opulent luxury

Our very own Gillian Serisier travelled to the Spanish capital for a first-hand experience of this hotel. She reports on the opulence at this Old World icon.

BAR Studio reinvigorates a Madrid icon with some opulent luxury

In collaboration with its new Madrid office (opened 2021), Australian design house BAR Studio has redesigned Madrid’s iconic Villa Magna for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

The mood is opulent luxury with natural materiality overlaid with glamour, history and the quiet observations of Madrid that fresh eyes relish. In refurbishing the hotel’s 154 guestrooms and suites and redesigning its luxurious public areas, BAR Studio’s interior design draws inspiration from both the iconic status of Villa Magna and the sophisticated Salamanca district. To this end the addition of a patisserie in the heart of the public space may seem at odds with current hotel design but it is wholly in keeping with Madrid, where patisseries offer next level opulence in terms of both setting and pastries – they are the place to be seen, as Sunday afternoon ritual.

BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

The colour and vibrancy of Spanish design is similarly integrated with unexpected splashes of pattern and colour neatly inserted throughout. As such, references to traditional Spanish art and architecture recur in the layered design, explored through fabrics, materials and sculptural form. An over-scaled herringbone motif, for example, features throughout with carpets, walls, flooring and objects taking a contemporary spin on European design.

The hotel itself is BAR Studio’s response to the idea of recreating the hotel as a ‘grand villa’ inspired by the 19th-century Palacio del Duque de Anglada that originally occupied the site. “When we encountered Villa Magna we realised that it really is Madrid’s meeting place,” says Stewart Robertson, co-founder and creative director of BAR Studio. “The hotel holds so many memories of celebrations and conversations. We were conscious to preserve this legacy but also allow it to engage the next generation of travellers, guests and locals, providing opportunities for new experiences. It is about creating an organic evolution of the hotel’s future history.”

Redesigning the ground floor as an open plan public space, the design is spacious and inviting. Large windows and expansive glazing draw in natural light, and visually connect the spaces, while an all-season atrium courtyard brings the outdoors in. All-day dining, Las Brasas de Castellana, is perhaps the most Australian in its design language with relaxed timber chairs and white table tops paired with neutral and olive soft furnishings. Framing this venue is a wisteria terrace, which flows on to the established rose gardens that date back to the Palacio’s origins (landscape architect, Gregorio Marañón).

Related: The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne by BAR Studio

BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

Within the hotel proper, cane-backed Cavallo armchairs and custom lighting create a relaxed atmosphere, as does a sociable open kitchen, parlour and library. Dark wood and warm leather set the tone for Tarde.O bar, which gives access to the courtyard and expansive sofas. Completing this area is a new pavilion lounge that opens onto a magnolia-tree terrace, offering a flexible retreat for guests or a versatile and private function space.

European artisanal craftsmanship is celebrated throughout with select pieces from renowned Italian brands Molteni&C, Minotti and B&B Italia, and Spanish outdoor living label Kettal. The guestrooms are spacious and considered with flow optimised for a better user experience including residential style furnishings at the right scale for the rooms. The colour schemes for these rooms are punctuated by a wall of solid colour of the deep terracotta or olive ilk, countered by large expanses of white, bold carpet graphics and at least one of the furniture pieces in the same colour as the feature wall. The effect is a bold room without clutter or unnecessary confusion that speaks coherently of Spanish design.

BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

The two primary suites, Salamanca House with one bedroom, and the larger two-bedroom Anglada House on the ninth floor, are designed as luxurious private residences. These spaces are very much in keeping with high end luxurious residential design with room layout and flow considered and resolved.

Detailing here is exact with screens, bookcases, art and objects all curated to enhance rather than fill the space. Large velvet and fabric lounges introduce muted jewel tones to the living areas, while stone fireplaces reference back to the Palacio origins. The bathrooms are featured by outlandish configurations of grey and white marble tiles, this however is wholly in keeping with Madrid where bold marble is celebrated and entirely wonderful.

For both these offerings the indoor-outdoor connection is realised through double-height floor-to-ceiling windows framing the skyline and private outdoor balconies off the bedrooms. These suites also have direct access to vast entertainment terraces overlooking the avenue Paseo de la Castellana (the large tree-lined avenue leading to the Prado Museum), Madrid and the mountains, reinforcing the connection between the city and nature.

BAR Studio’s renovation of Villa Magna is both an update and a reconsideration of the past. The original stained glass by Spanish glass artist Raventos, who was the preferred designer of Spanish architects during 60s and 70s, for example, has been retained. Meanwhile, the whole has been refreshed and refocused as, not just a premier Madrid hotel, but a destination that embraces contemporary Iberian world and the artistic spirit of Madrid. 

BAR Studio

Peter Bennetts

BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
BAR Studio - Villa Magna - Rosewood Hotels & Resorts

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