The House a Duke Built

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Madrid’s Hotel Santo Mauro maintains its opulence as the palatial quarters of 19th-century Spanish nobility.

One hundred years ago, it was a folly: a residence for entertaining titled relatives and visiting heads of state. The palace of the Duke of Santo Mauro and the Marques of Santa Cruz occupied a prominent spot in Chamberí, the cosmopolitan heart of Madrid. Built in 1894 by French architect Louis Legrand in the Louis XVI style, popular at the time among Europe’s royalty, Hotel Santo Mauro’s spiral staircases, intricate moldings, and mansard roof highlight the taste of the era, while its grand scale and finishes reflect the Duke’s vast fortunes. At its center stands a lush courtyard of blossoming chestnut trees. You can practically see the tuxedoed men clinking glasses and ladies adjusting their fascinators. Hotel Santo Mauro is steeped in the revelry of another era.

Exterior of hotel building and entrance
Sophisticated lounge with banquette seating and small tables

In a stroke of genius (and a little bit of nostalgia), the hotel chose to leave much of the old palace’s social spaces intact. Timeless, and timely, would also describe the Duke’s old library, which in its incarnation as a restaurant has become one of the most sought-after reservations in Madrid. Now called La Biblioteca Restaurant, the traditional degustation menu is presented among the Duke’s personal leather-bound volumes. Look over in the corner and you’re likely to see an international pop star dining on foie gras with quince spirals, or a famous football star in residence while renovating the family pile (but we never name names).

Elegant lobby area with three large archways and floral arrangements

Five generations have not diminished the palace’s social standing in Madrid. Even the current Duke himself still pops into his ancestral home for a chance to mingle with the international jet set. How to catch a glimpse? Check in.