This is my review of the Grand Melia Fenix hotel in Madrid.
Back in June, Amex Platinum charge card holders received a leaflet in the post. As I wrote here, it offered everyone a free night – no catches – at one of a number of Melia hotels, mainly in Spain.
(This offer is still available until 30th November, which is a good incentive to get yourself an Amex Platinum card if you don’t already have one. You also get 30,000 Avios for signing-up. Here is my full review of the card.)
The most attractive package was at the Grand Melia Fenix in Madrid. This is because it is part of the American Express ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ programme, and agreed to honour those benefits for the free night.
This meant that, as well as your free night, you receive:
An upgrade (necessary here, as I had been warned that entry level rooms are very small)
Free breakfast for two
Free lunch or dinner for two
Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
This all seemed too good to miss, especially as I haven’t been to Madrid for 6-7 years.
I flew down in British Airways Club Europe, a standard CE flight. Coming back, as I wrote yesterday, I got the brand new long-haul Iberia A330 with fully-flat seating!
The Fenix hotel is to the north of the historic centre, and about 6-7 minutes walk north of the Prado museum. It is not a hugely attractive area, surrounded by 1960’s office towers, including a massive Barclays building opposite.
Check-in was courteous and effective, with reception booking my restaurant table for that evening and even giving me the menu in advance! (Amex guests get a special tasting menu.)
The Fenix sells itself as a historic hotel, built in the 1850’s. It was derelict for a long period in the 20th century, however, and reopened as a mid-market Tryp hotel in the 1980’s. When Tryp became part of the Melia group, it was upgraded to a Grand Melia property. It is a member of ‘Leading Hotels of the World’, although that is never a guarantee of much!
Whilst the building looks huge, it is surprisingly lacking in public areas. This is partly because a lot of the ground floor has been sub-let to a Hard Rock Cafe. What is impressive is the hotel bar, which is surprisingly funky compared to the rest of the property.
Here is my ‘premium’, upgraded room. Nicely furnished, although in a fairly ‘heavy’ style. Note that the bed has been made up as two single beds and not turned into a double, which was not exactly convenient (I was travelling alone).
Small bathroom, with no separate shower. The light in the toilet at the back was broken. Decent toiletries from Clarins.
And here is a throwback to the 1980’s. Anyone under 40 should show this photo to their parents and ask what it is:
I went to dinner at 10pm. I have read a few reports of Amex free nights, and they always report that the restaurant was empty! I am pleased to report that there were three other occupied tables when I visited.
The menu was (verbatim):
Summer traditional ‘Gazpacho’
Marinated sardines toast with red pepper gelee
Capon ans traditional meatballs
Vanilla and pineapple with coconut crème and corn flakes
Selection of waters and coffee
The food actually came as a standard three-course meal. The first three small dishes came together, with a second plate of the meatballs (but no side dishes) followed by the dessert and coffee.
Everything was included except alcoholic drinks, so my total bill was €7 for a glass of wine.
Breakfast the next morning was a comprehensive buffet. It was very much European focussed, with Special K as the only breakfast cereal on offer. A good selection, though, and I didn’t need any lunch until I reached the Iberia airport lounge at about 2.30pm.
This is a very generous offer by Melia especially as they include dinner and breakfast. You are getting around €350 of value (the cheapest room without breakfast was €220 for the day I booked).
That said, I am not sure if I would stay here again. There are plenty of good hotels directly in the historic centre, and I’ve had pleasant stays at Villa Real and the Urban before. The Ritz, run by Starwood, also has amazing public areas (I’ve never stayed, but have visited it) and I’d recommend that as well purely for that reason.
Being in the historic centre, instead of the fringes, also makes it easier to go out in the evening. El Corte Ingles, the main department store, opens until 10pm but I couldn’t face the walk down, especially in the dark. From any of the hotels above it would have been a 5 minute stroll.
I fully recommend the Fenix if you are looking to use your Amex Plat free night, though, purely because of the extra amenities.
(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)