For any of our Instagram followers reading this, you’ll know that founders Karishma & Deeya often make a pit-stop to Madrid en-route to design trips in Hong Kong. We call it our ‘sister tradition’. Well, minus Roshni. It’s our one night of good food, good wine and a good time before the whirlwind trip to HK begins, where we barely have time to catch our breath. We can vouch for the fact that Madrid offers the very best when it comes to food, when it comes to culture and most definitely when it comes to party. Located just 2 hours away from London, it makes for the perfect spontaneous weekend getaway since after all, Madrid is all about spontaneity. Even the best-laid plans tend to get forgotten after a couple of days of being there, as you slip into the soulful swing of the city. We’re going to lay out our favourite spots on this guide but first, here’s a disclaimer: don’t feel guilty about abandoning your cultural agenda once you’re there, it just means you’re behaving like a true Madrileño.
We hope you like it,
K, R & D
WHERE TO GO:
Located in downtown Madrid, Calle de Fuencarral is perfect for when you don’t have a set agenda. It’s one of the largest pedestrianised streets in Madrid which conveniently intersects with Grand Via. Described as the ‘backbone’ of Madrid’s shopping, here you will find an array of the world’s most popular stores as well as local boutiques – all adorned with avant-garde and colourful shop windows. And, of course, the main attraction for us is Mercado de San Ildefonso – the perfect place for when you’re in the mood for good food (always) but just aren’t quite sure what exactly you want. This market is spread over 3 floors ensuring that the variety is excellent. The only thing is, this place gets super busy super-fast – so we do recommend heading there off-peak to ensure you dine more comfortably.
Comparable to London’s Bond Street, the Champs Elysees in Paris or Fifth Avenue in New York and stretching almost a mile, Calle Serrano is every shopper’s paradise. Take a stroll and you will see all major fashion houses, designer boutiques, department stores (including our favourite El Corte Ingles) and the major high street names. It’s a great road to pass an afternoon, all the while easily getting your steps in for the day. While shopping is what Calle Serrano is famous for, it also offers a handful of cultural sites and notable spots. Plaza de Colon, one of the most famous plazas in Madrid, is located just off of Calle Serrano.
La Latina is Madrid's quintessential neighbourhood for beer on tap, tapas, mojitos and terraces. At weekends it's nearly impossible to find a spot to squeeze into the jam-packed bars and restaurants to get lunch or dinner and La Latina is synonymous with going out for beers in Madrid. The two main streets that are home to the majority of bars and restaurants are Cava Alta and Cava Baja, where the famous Casa Lucio is located, a place renowned for their huevos estrellados. La Latina is one of the oldest and most traditional areas in the Spanish capital and is for sure somewhere to explore for a guaranteed good time.
Calle de Pelayo, 48, 28004 Madrid, Spain | +34 913 91 43 11
Since 2005, Mad is Mad has successfully curated easily one of the best contemporary art collections in Spain. Located in the lively Chueca neighbourhood, this gallery operates at less than traditional opening hours: 5pm-9pm Tuesday to Saturday. With the aim of bringing contemporary art closer to the public, the gallery engages the attention of wider audiences thanks to its affordable prices and its long-term collective exhibitions. It’s definitely a place to check out if you’re open to exploring the contemporary art scene in Madrid.
WHERE TO STAY:
Paseo de la Castellana, 22, 28046 Madrid, Spain | +34 915 87 12 34
Centrally located in the Salamanca district, Villa Magna expertly captures the vivacity of Spanish culture with the warmth of European hospitality. Hotel Villa Magna has a very unassuming grey exterior, however the interior feels is classic but with all the modern necessary amenities. Quite simply put: the location of this hotel is ideal, the internal environment is chic yet comfy and the service is truly excellent – the hotel staff are extremely accommodating. But, to be honest, the main reason this hotel has made it on this guide is because of Tse Yang, the excellent Cantonese restaurant inside the hotel. The convenience of being able to go down in your hotel slippers to eat dim sum at 3pm is what secured Villa Magna its spot on our guide.
WHERE TO EAT:
Calle de Velázquez, 18, 28001 Madrid, Spain | +34 916 85 97 19
First on the list because it’s one of our favourite restaurants ever. EVER. And to those of you who know how much we love food, you’ll know this is a bold statement. As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by the mesmerising view of the open, live kitchen to pass through to the very elegant restaurant interior. Our favourite dining spot is the not-so-secret garden outside adorned with lights and greenery – the true jewel in the crown of this restaurant. Every single dish on the menu is expertly made with the freshest ingredients. The menu isn’t large, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavour. Our ultimate favourite dish is the Orechiona with egg and truffle for main course and the unbelievable tiramisu for dessert. We strongly recommend every person reading to make a booking and experience it for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
Paseo de la Castellana, 36, 28046 Madrid, Spain | +34 911 72 18 41
According to every single person who's had it, you haven't experienced gastronomic perfection until you've tasted the Tatel potato omelette. A simple mixture of eggs, thinly sliced potato, and freshly shaved black truffle has never tasted so good. And luckily, pretty much all of the other dishes on the menu are just as good. This restaurant combines Spanish heritage and food with a quirky atmosphere and is hands down one of the best spots for Spanish food in Madrid. Combine that with excellent service and its beautiful location, it really is fine dining at its best.
Calle de Jorge Juan, 17, 28001 Madrid, Spain | +34 917 86 46 24
The owners behind this restaurant already have many other very successful restaurants in Madrid, so it is no surprise that Quintin has followed suit. It is a local treasure which perfectly blends authentic, gourmet, yet laid back dining. For us, the best things on the menu are the jamon (they actually sell their own), the artichoke lasagne and the grilled squid. The waiters are so passionate about the food that they serve, which makes the experience even more enjoyable. Pro tip: a reservation is essential to secure your spot.
Plaza de la Independencia, 10, 28001 Madrid, Spain | +34 910 88 93 30
Grupo Paraguas (creators of Ten Con Ten, Amazonico, Numa Pompilio – pretty much most of the restaurants on this guide) have done it again with their new African inspired restaurant. Directly translated, ‘Aarde’ means land, and with impressive décor and an equally impressive menu, Aarde is surely a place to see. The menu contains African inspired dishes all made with locally sourced ingredients. Our favourites are okra green curry, the Kamba wamzi (coconut prawns) and the pistachio & pear baklava with pistachio ice cream for dessert.
Calle Jorge Juan, 20, 28001 Madrid, Spain | +34 915 15 43 32
Here you will find a piece of the Amazon rainforest in the Salamanca neighbourhood of Madrid. The menu is inspired by tropical, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, with references to Brazilian gastronomy, which is Chef Sandro Silva’s country of origin. What we love most about this place is the Jungle Jazz Club, located on the ground floor of the restaurant, combines the restaurant's sensual spirit with a top-quality music proposal and live music every day of the week. It’s fun, it’s vibey, it’s been franchised twice now (in both London & Dubai) so it’s legit – definitely a must-go in Madrid and we like it best on a Saturday.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Calle de Fortuny, 34, 28010 Madrid, Spain | +34 913 19 26 51
Located in a former Neo-classical palace in the Chamberí neighbourhood, this three-storey building features a garden, a restaurant and a magnificent terrace which operates at full capacity almost every night that it’s open. Although there’s a restaurant inside we don’t recommend trying out the food, but we definitely recommend the party. The drinks are strong (in true Spanish style) and the music is great – the perfect ingredients for a fun night out.
Calle de Miguel Ángel, 21, 28010 Madrid, Spain | +34 917 29 87 77
Following the patterns of the Eighties, Panthera is where gastronomy and party come together in the same space. The food isn’t the best but the atmosphere more than makes up for that. It’s a one stop shop for a very fun night which is necessary sometimes as there’s always Debbie Downer of the group who gets tired on the way to the club from the restaurant (usually me tbh). Get ready to dance to tribal beats, deep house and tributes to the emblematic themes of the Eighties and Nineties that you know the words too of by heart.