MADRID — High above the streets of central Madrid, where Calle de Sevilla and Calle de Alcalá meet, stands a landmark 100-year old rotunda and bell tower, flanked by two golden statues: Life, holding an hourglass, and Death, clutching a wheel of fortune.
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It’s the crowning architectural flourish of the luxury Four Seasons Hotel Madrid, which opened last September on the site of the former Banesto bank headquarters. That ribbon cutting coincided with the second wave in Spain of a pandemic that has now left 80,911 people dead, and a tourism industry battling to survive.
The 200-room hotel near the central Puerta del Sol, one of the busiest plazas in this capital city, is housed in seven restored and repurposed historical structures. Behind its largely intact 19th-century façades, the hotel inherited marble fittings, doorknobs and mirrors that are now intermixed with modern décor. For the first time in its history, bell-tower closeups are open to the public, who can dine or enjoy a €7 ($8.31) coffee at the rooftop restaurant.
The goal at the time of the hotel’s opening was simple: Bring cheer and distraction to an isolated and COVID-19–weary public, Marta Centeno Sampere, the hotel’s director of public relations and communications, told MarketWatch in mid-June.