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Freedom and fun focus at Madrid's Axel Hotel

Alison Carter
07 May 2019

In the heart of “El Barrio de las Letras”, the hotel's design overlaps various references forming an explosive and complex tandem.

El Equipo Creative's design of the Axel Hotel on Atocha Street in Madrid superposes a series of historic references forming a complex and explosive tandem. The objective was to create a hotel where one could breathe a free and fun atmosphere with a disruptive touch, which would invite different types of the public to enjoy the public areas of the hotel.

One of the starting points is the privileged location of the Axel Hotel in the very midst of Madrid’s literary neighborhood, today the epicenter of the city’s most cosmopolitan environment.

Another starting point is the palatial 19th-century building in which the hotel is located, where its noble rooms still conserve elements of great patrimonial interest, lavishly decorated ceilings, intense colours on the walls and baroque decorative details.

An important role in the design choices was also played by some of Madrid’s most traditional and popular characteristics as well as some of the most well-known visual elements such as those related to the bullfight, the “mantilla” or the gypsy esthetic in general.

And finally, closing this strange tandem is the explosive philosophy behind the Axel Hotel chain, whose hotels are designed for the LGBTQ community creating free spaces where sexual diversity is welcome and promoted and where diversion is a priority.

From the beginning, the design team was interested in creating an amusing dialogue among all these starting points and historic periods so important and antagonistic in the history of Madrid and to which Atocha Street has been a privileged witness.

The principal objective was to create a hotel which exuded an atmosphere of liberty and diversion with a certain disruptive touch which invited a varied clientele to enter the public areas of the hotel to enjoy the gastronomic offer.

In order to achieve this atmosphere, the most important strategy in the design is the use of colour, an element which accompanies us throughout all the areas of the hotel and which is applied with a different character and material nature in each zone.

The Hotel: The Common Areas and Noble Rooms

Posters, brightly lit with cinematographic and musical references to the “Movida Madrileña” together with mannequins and other flashy elements invade the entrance way to the hotel and its reception area, welcoming the guest to a carefree and festive atmosphere.

The introduction of texts, words, and phrases in the form of bright lights and neon makes reference to the literary past of the neighborhood, but with more popular messages and winks/insinuations. It is precisely in the courtyard of the building where this “popular literature” takes on the importance and climbs up the patio walls like an echo of the theatrical voices of the “Comedy Playhouses” of the Golden Century.

Located on the first floor were the original noble rooms of immense patrimonial value and containing a great variety of finishes and colours. The common denominator which exists in all of them is the golden decorative detail on the walls, ceilings, and handicrafts.

The new distribution has converted some of these rooms to public lounges and others to suites, emphasizing in both cases the common denominator, gold, which will be the colour of all the new pieces of furniture in these spaces.

The Hotel: The New Rooms

In the design of the rooms once again there is a mixture of some of the visual references previously mentioned, but with the new objective of creating a space which invites one to both rest and play.
The design mixes visual references to the esthetic of the bullfight and the “mantilla” with a sexy touch.
Two large curtains are the outstanding decorative elements, one fuchsia, the colour of the bullfighter’s cape, and the other of a translucent black texture like a “mantilla”. Together they surround the bed and allow the room to be transformed according to the time of day or, why not, the mood. A neon light with clear or suggestive messages regarding popular culture completes this playful setting. 

For those who are looking for a place to rest, thanks to its elegant intense blue and noble woods, the room offers a quiet and peaceful respite from the noisy “Literary Neighborhood”.