Irvina Lew • August 2, 2017

Photos: TÓTEM

TÓTEM, a newly refurbished 64-room boutique hotel in Madrid, is housed within a 19th-century, neoclassic building in the city’s Salamanca district. The venture by the Marugal Distinctive Hotel Management Portfolio and Small Luxury Hotels is situated along the Calle de Hermosilla in the exclusive, grid-patterned neighborhood built in the mid-1800s for the aristocracy and haute bourgeoisie. The beautifully fronted residences still attract the wealthy patrons who shop in its chic boutiques, dine in its Michelin-starred restaurants, and stroll toward the grand Paseo de la Castellana and the famous Parque del Buen Retiro.

The five-story building—complete with Juliet balconies on nearly all levels—reflects a model typical of the era: an entry floor that currently houses reception and a bar/lounge dining concept, and a first floor with 12-foot-tall ceilings that formerly topped aristocratic salons.

The façade, stairway, railings, and balconies of the original aristocratic home are protected by laws governing Spanish heritage assets. Architect Gerardo Mingo updated the functionality of the structure, which had operated as a hotel since the 1960s. Mingo reduced the room number from 67 to 64 to accommodate a few suites, while also replacing the small windows within the restaurant to frame grander views.

Nori Furlan and Paco Llonch of Corium Casa, a Barcelona-based interior design studio, oversaw the refurbishment of the entire hotel, facing the challenge of preserving the original, state-protected elements of the building, while adding contemporary sophistication. That meant the 19th-century pine staircase, complete with its iron railings and wood-topped handrails, and the building’s courtyard atrium, which was adapted into the new bar and lounge through the installation of a precisely proportioned, pergola-style roof. “Our goal was to create a welcoming and quiet ambiance in the bar and lounge,” explains Furlan. “The slatted ceiling repeats the material in the oak floor, permits the entry of natural light into the area, and adds exactly the amount of warmth that we wanted to give to the space.”

Crafted with a mixture of wool tweed and stately velvet, modern furniture injects warmth into the lobby spaces done in varying shades of blue, gray, and pink teamed. Bespoke glass-topped, steel tables further amplify the contemporary aesthetic, while in the bar and lounge, a floral wallpaper in blue and gray adds a playful touch.

The hotel’s sleek, light-filled restaurant, Hermosos y Malditos, a 21st century gastropub, draws its name from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and The Damned. Furlan and Llonch anchored the open space with contemporary furnishings—think wood tables, wood chairs with yellow and light blue upholstered seats, and slim banquettes in heather gray. Save for moldings, painted walls are left unadorned to allow the Salamanca streetscape beyond the windows to provide the backdrop. A wall behind the service bar is warmed with pages from the novel and a round hanging lamp—a found object reminiscent of the novel’s pre-World War I setting. “In the restaurant, we designed the little curved wall lamps of painted metal, which were inspired by an antique model,” Furlan explains.

Vestiges of the 19th century also punctuate guestrooms and suites, all of which feature restored the plaster work, oak and brass touches, and traditional moldings. Large mirrors reflect natural light filtered in via windows that look out on the street or courtyard. Small bespoke couches and desks enhance the space, while wood-framed, abstract sculptural paintings by Yaya Mur add interest.

Furlan and Llonch embraced the original indigo blue on the first floor, while injecting a palette of light brown and gentle gray hues across others, with punches of  yellow (a greenish tone for curtains and a bright tone for desk chairs) and black—in the form of swirling Negro Maquina marble sourced from northern Spain and geometric floor tile—in bathrooms. The twosome also resolved the issue of slanted walls on the attic floor by installing skylights and a wall-length shelf to deliver both a chic design element and space for a desk, storage, and mini-bar.

“As much as possible, our intention was to preserve the 19th century, period character of the building, while making it function it as an elegant, up-to-the minute hotel.”