Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid, Spain

Madrid is a city that is whirring with life, from gourmet restaurants and buzzing all-night bars to a vibrant art scene. Located between the über-trendy Malasaña and Chueca districts is the elegant Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid's first five-star boutique offering.

This lovingly restored 20th-century neoclassical palace is walking distance from some of the city's best sights, museums (the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza are a swift jaunt away) and art galleries.


The city is simply too much fun to spend tons of time in the hotel (and you almost get the feeling they want you to go out and explore) but, before you leave, do experience the Natura Bissé spa.

It offers an impressive list of boutique treatments - try the Citrus Vita-Essence facial for an instant refresher before a night on the town. Also, be sure to visit The Table, the hotel's pop-up restaurant where a guest chef takes charge each month.

GO: A double room costs from £145, B&B; www.hotelurso.com

WOW FACTOR: Stop off at La Venencia sherry bar, one of Ernest Hemingway's former haunts. Beautifully shabby and as un-touristy as it gets, the bar's walls are covered in peeling posters and drinks are served out of old barrels. But beware: anyone who dares to take a photograph will be kicked out.

FLIGHT TIME: 2 hours