CITY GUIDE MADRID
When it comes to decide upon your next city break, Madrid is most likely not one of those initial destinations you have in mind. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Lisbon or Barcelona, probably all come before the Spanish capital, which is tucked away in the heart of Spain, at almost 700 meters above sea level. Madrid is not only home to two world-famous football teams, Real, and its bitter rival, Atlético, but also to more than three million people, which makes it rank the sixth biggest city in Europe. Its cultural heritage and historic feel across its neighborhoods turn the city into one of the most livable places in the world according to Monocle. I have resided in this municipality for now almost 10 months, in order to complete my Master's degree.
AC Santo Mauro is not only a stunning hotel, but its magnificent garden turn it into an oasis in the heart of Madrid. Hotel Urso is another stunning place to reside. Furthermore, Room Mate Óscar with its stunning roof top pool, is yet another excellent place to stay and offers great value for money. The Hat and Room007 are two funky hostels and the best option for a lower budget. The Hat also boosts a nice terrace upon its roof.
Café Toma serves the best tasting coffee, but is not very inviting to sit down. If you want to enjoy your coffee and do some work, find yourself a place at La Bicicleta. Magasand or Federal, which also has branches in Barcelona, are two further great places to grab a tasty espresso and a small bite to eat. When it comes to brunch, Benedita Locura and Dray Martina are highly recommended. La Hummuseria is an Israeli café that is famous for its hummus and prepares yummy and healthy dishes. Whilst all of the above do serve vegan food, Panela & Co is probably the best place to find such.
El Paraguas and Ten Con Ten have the same owner, and the food and atmosphere in either of the restaurants is outstanding. Both offer fantastic food, especially famous are their truffle dishes. Take the truffle risotto as a starter, followed by truffle steak as your main. For fish and seafood, do not look further than El Pescador and go to Copenhagen to find fantastic Nordic cooking. The most authentic and best tapas in Madrid can be found at Casa Lucio, Viejo Madrid or El Landó, which all fall under the same owner and offer similar dining experiences. Not on the same level as those three, but offering tapas for great value for money is Lateral. They have six branches, however, the one located at Paseo de Castellana 42 is the one to go for. It is very popular amongst Generation Y and always packed with people. 29 Fanegas is of similar quality, but in a quieter setting. Luzi Bombón, Bar Tomate, Bosco De Lobos and Ana La Santa, do not only cater excellent food, but also provide a perfect ambience with their purist interior designs. All of them serve globally inspired Mediterranean food for regulars and vegans alike. Lastly, sit on the terrace at Hevia and enjoy their excellent lunch. More so, try their best chocolate cake, which is the best I have ever eaten.
A typical night in Madrid starts with after work drinks. Whitby and Almagro are two popular places to enjoy a cold beer or Tinto De Verano. Popular amongst the younger crowd is La Sota and Arts Club. Whilst La Sota is more of a bar, Arts Club actually turns up the music as the night progresses. Besides Arts, Éccola and Marieta are two alternatives to enjoy a freshly mixed cocktail. Though, all the previous named locations serve food as well, they are best for drinks.
As bars usually close their doors at around 3:00 am, Opium or Gabana are the places to continue the night. Whilst Opium or Gabana will play the billboard charts, Goya Social Club and Studio76 both deliver the finest techno sounds to your eardrum. In addition, Mondo regularly attracts the big names of the electronic music industry.
Malasaña is the creative hub of the city, so it is not surprising that this neighborhood, along with Chueca, is the ideal place to find individual boutiques and small stores. Do Design sells well-curated gifts and accessories. The best sneaker stores in town go by the name of Sivasdescalzo and Con Suela. Nigra Mercato also stocks a number of limited releases. If you are into brands like Acne Studios, A.P.C. or Our Legacy, you should check out Mini. Visit Panta Rhei and pick one, two or more books for your table or shelve. In case you need a new pair of sunglasses, do check out Óptica Toscana for some fancy frames.
Walk down to Templo De Debod to enjoy beautiful views across the metropolitan area and Casa De Campo. Additionally, Palacio Real, the royal family's residence, is only a stone's throw away. If you are seeking freshly sliced jamón ibérico, Mercado San Miguel is just five minutes from the royal palace. If that was not enough, Platea is San Miguel's modern counterpart, whilst El Huerto De Lucas is an exciting eco-project that prides itself with serving organic food. Cortezo Yatai Market is an Asian-inspired street market. For the artsy people, the Prado must be on your list, along with the CaixaForum and Museo Reina Sofia. Not far from the museums, you find El Retiro, where I recommend wondering past the flowerbeds and marvelling at the statues scattered around the park.