The Hotel Mercure Santo Domingo – an oasis for slow travellers in the heart of busy Madrid The building houses the largest Hanging Garden in Europe, a green architecture project absorbing 25,000kg of CO2 per year The hotel promotes local art in its 200 themed bedrooms and serves traditional Spanish dishes with seasonal, local produce Madrid, November 2011.- The Hotel Mercure Santo Domingo, in Spain’s beautiful capital city, is every eco & slow traveller’s delight. One of its unique features is the hotel’s hanging garden, the largest in Europe, inaugurated in summer of this year and now dressed for the autumn with over 1,500 new seasonal non-allergenic flowers and 25 trees. Installed in the building’s inner courtyard, the garden is a natural jewel complemented with a spectacular 20 metre waterfall descending from the garden’s peak. “We don’t call our garden a vertical garden but rather a hanging one, since we have used the same kind of plants, supports and watering systems as in a normal garden, but placing all natural elements vertically. Thus, we have taken advantage of the enormous possibilities of being able to grow flowers beside treetops, capitalizing on a dimension provided by no horizontal garden”, explains Antonio Núñez Tirado, managing director of the Hotel Santo Domingo and project developer. The hanging garden is an excellent option for travellers who care about the environmental impact of their travels and select a hotel highly rated for its green policies. The project not only tastefully embellishes its surroundings but also provides important benefits, including sustainable heat regulation, the absorption of 25,000 kg of CO2 emissions annually, the generation of clean oxygen (it daily provides the amount consumed by approximately 200 people) and careful control of noise pollution. Given the high number of vegetable species involved, the garden favours biodiversity and hopes to foster small birds nesting. The sharp contrast between the bustle of downtown Madrid and the tranquillity of the Hanging Garden comes as an unexpected surprise to travellers. Eco-aware hotel The Hotel Mercure Santo Domingo has implemented green practices since its opening and is committed to developing its sustainable policies as one of the leading eco-aware hotels in Spain. The Santo Domingo is equipped with a LED lighting system which allows an 85 per cent energy saving when compared with halogen lighting. Its human motion detection system is another important electrical energy saver. As to the building’s climate, the Hanging Garden acts as heat insulator, reducing the temperature by 6 to 8 degrees in the summer (equalling 50 air conditioning devices), and acts in the winter as an excellent thermal cushion of 8 degrees in relation to the outside temperature, providing major savings in heating. The hotel has double glazing in every window and is equipped with heating and cooling units which adapt the climate of the bedrooms and public areas of the hotel according to its needs. The Santo Domingo bathroom fittings are easily removable thanks to an innovative system which enables them to be replaced over time without the need for further building work. The hotel is also equipped with a waste water recycling system which enables the water to be eliminated by decantation and recycled by chlorination, making it reusable in the hotel’s toilets. Regular storage of 1,500 litres of recycled water covers 300 to 500 water cistern discharges daily. Promoting local art and history Following its ‘slow philosophy’, the Hotel Mercure Santo Domingo’s 200 themed bedrooms are designed with its own unique theme and decorated by up and coming Spanish artists with total creative freedom. As a singular touch, the hotel’s parking facilities have been decorated with 1,200 square metres of mural paintings, also by local artists. The hotel’s panoramic views of historic Madrid are astounding. Its “swimming pool in the sky”, an oasis in the heart of this busy city, has breathtaking views of the city’s domes and characteristic rooftops. The stairway of the hotel, with its golden banisters inspired from the works of Dali’s organic shapes, guides the guest down to the subterranean floor of the hotel, where another very special surprise awaits: the sixteenth century Sandó Caves, perfectly preserved and currently housing one of the trendiest cocktail bars in the city. Seasonal dishes The crowning touch is the hotel’s prestigious restaurant, the Sandó, which serves traditional Spanish cuisine based on local and seasonal produce with innovative touches in an elegant, tranquil atmosphere. All this forms the unique universe of the Hotel Mercure Santo Domingo, which prides itself on offering guests unbeatable value for money. Cultural Madrid For travellers who are keen to discover the culture of this historic city, a short 5 to 10 minute walk separates the hotel from emblematic spots which are not to be missed, such as Madrid’s Teatro Real, Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real and the Sabatini Gardens. The world famous cultural centres, such as the Prado Museum and the Thyssen Museum, are also within a short, very pleasurable walk along the Gran Via, across the Plaza de la Cibeles and alongside the majestic park of El Retiro.