If only it wasn't a Relais & Chateau; if only the reception staff weren't in tails; if only the welcome was something like spontaneous, rather than studedly polite; if only the bedrooms (impeccable as they are) were less predictable – then this could be a real charming small hotel. But Madrid has always been one of the worst European capitals for relaxed, individual places to stay. Still, the Orfila is housed in a beautiful little mansion parallel to Paseo de la Castellana, the city's smart central north-south axis, and with 32 bedrooms it's quite small for a city hotel.
Stepping in from the quiet street you'll find yourself in a striking entrance chamber, and then comes the handsome reception hall. You could talk yourself into thinking that this has an intimate feel, grand though it is. Off it is a charming tea room and an elegant small dining room. So on balance, we welcome this hotel to the guide and hope reader's have pleasent experiences here.
A safe choice for the middle-aged or elderly, not on a budget. If you're young, and want something trendier, the Santo Mauro, a few minutes walk to the north, is a better choice.