Thursday, November 5, 2015

Madrid | City Guide & Hotspots part 1

At the beginning of September, I booked a spontaneous trip to Madrid with one of my best Spanish friends. I had been to Madrid a couple of times but never truly fell in love with the city, so it was time for another visit to try to change my mind. Before leaving, I already made a list of hotspots I wanted to see, and I also trusted my friend to show me some good spots since she knows the city very well. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and we left Monday afternoon, so we had plenty of time to explore and enjoy the last bit of summer. Because Madrid is quite easy to get around, we literally walked everywhere and didn't take one metro. Since we managed to do/see/eat an impressive amount of things that weekend, I wanted to share with you my personal Madrid guide. It's not a complete city guide but definitely a good start if you're not familiar at all with Madrid. Here's part one, find part two here for more tips. 
Madrid | guide & hotspots


Madrid | guide & hotspots

Sleep | Airbnb Opera, Madrid 
Our first stop after landing in Madrid was our Airbnb. The flat couldn't be in a more central location, on Calle de Fomento right by Plaza Callao, Santo Domingo and Gran Via. It's located in the back of a quiet building so we didn't have any noise in the flat. We were actually the first ones to stay in this flat since the owners just renovated it. It had everything we needed: a comfortable bed for two, sofa, air conditioning, good wifi, fully equipped small kitchen (with Nespresso) and a bathroom with shower (+ hairdryer and iron). Super clean, new, bright and comfortable. The only thing I'd improve are the cheap bedsheets which felt a little scratchy but apart from that we were so pleased with this place. For the price we paid, the location and quality of the flat, it was really perfect! I highly recommend this Airbnb flat
> Calle de Fomento 


Best Airbnb in Madrid

Juice | Fit Food
We didn't try this place but the quote in the window caught my attention. Inside, they sell freshly pressed juices in bottles, Açaí bowls and other healthy snacks. Perfect for a little break + health kick. 
> Calle Augusto Figueroa 28

Fit Food Madrid - Hotspot

Market | Mercado de San Antón
Our first stop was the Mercado San Antón in Chueca, an indoor food market kind of like San Miguel, with little tapas stalls and a supermarket in the basement. We headed to the rooftop for some cold claras (beer with lemon) and some tasty jamón. 
> Calle Augusto Figueroa 24

Mercado de San Antón Madrid - Hotspot

Mercado de San Antón Madrid - Hotspot

Sightseeing | Plaza de Colón
One of Madrid's most famous squares, dedicated to Cristóbal Colón, also known as Christopher Columbus. There's a statue, fountain and the biggest flag you'll ever see, but what I love the most about this square is the view on the Torres de Colón, the twin buildings which were built from top to bottom. 
> Plaza de Colón


Plaza de Colón - Hotspot


Plaza de Colón - Hotspot

Shopping | Nac
My friend showed me this really nice store where they sell a range of different brands. In the cellar, I found a little sale-corner where I spotted the coolest loafers (you can see them here) and they were a bargain too! 
> Calle de Génova 18


NAC Madrid - Hotspot


Madrid - Hotspot guide

Drinks | Dray Martina & Frida
Even tough we didn't get the chance to actually try these spots, they deserve some attention in this post. Both Dray Martina and Frida looked like the ultimate spots to sit down with a good drink and chat for hours. Frida even has amazing House of Hackney wallpaper and some outdoor tables under the trees. Now that I check their menu I definitely want to go next time, the food looks amazing. 
Calle San Gregorio 8 (Frida) 
Calle Argensola 7 (Dray Martina) 

Frida Madrid - Hotspot

Frida Madrid - Hotspot


Dray Martina Madrid - Hotspot

Dray Martina Madrid - Hotspot

Sleep | Only You Hotel  
I'm including some hotels in the guide I spotted along the way, just in case you're not a fan of Airbnb or you've got a little bit more to spend. The Only You Hotel is a cool design hotel which I believe only opened just over a year ago. It's an old mansion converted into a hotel so they kept some of the original features. My favourite part is the reception/elevator area which is covered in azulejo tiles. 
> Calle del Barquillo 21


Only You Hotel Madrid - Hotspot

Only You Hotel Madrid - Hotspot

Breakfast, coffee & brunch | Cafe Federal
We had breakfast here twice because I loved it! Super delicious avocado toast, really good coffee, amazing quinoa porridge... I also spotted a lot of bloggers here so you kind of know what kind of place this is ;) The food is on point. There are also two cafés in Barcelona so in case you go there, try it! Here's the full review
> Plaza Comendadoras 9

Cafe Federal Madrid - Brunch Hotspot


Cafe Federal Madrid - Brunch Hotspot

Sightseeing | Plaza de España - Palacio Real - Templo de Debod
There are some must-sees in terms of tourist kinda stuff. Plaza de España is my favourite square in Madrid mainly because of the incredibly big Edeficio España; a massive neo-baroque style building which has been empty for some time now. You can hardly believe how big it is when you're standing right next to it, it's crazy!


Plaza de España - Madrid Hotspot


Plaza de España - Madrid Hotspot


Plaza de España - Madrid Hotspot


On this square there is also the Cervantes monument (I think you all know his story about Don Quixote) and a little park. If you walk a little further and cross some streets, you'll find the Palacio Real de Madrid, the Royal Palace and the official residence of the Spanish Royal family. 


Plaza de España - Madrid Hotspot

Palacio Real Madrid - Hotspot

In the Parque del Oeste you'll find a little ancient Egyptian temple: Templo de Debod. It was dismantled in Egypt and rebuilt in Madrid in 1972; quite impressive. From this point, there's an amazing view on the city. 

Templo de Debod Madrid - Hotspot


Templo de Debod Madrid - Hotspot

Sightseeing | Plaza Mayor 
Probably Madrid's most famous square, right in the heart of the city. The perfect place to take a picture to send home to mom & dad ;) Majorly touristy but it has to be done. And you kind of have to walk through the square to get to the next spot...

Plaza Mayor Madrid - Hotspot

Tapas | Mercado de San Miguel
This is the most famous market in Madrid. Unlike regular markets where you buy food to take home, this is a kind of market where you stay and eat. There are hundreds and hundreds of the most delicious tapas options, from little bocadillos con jamón to churros. Of course all washed down with una cerveza or una copa de vino. Definitely touristy but still with an authentic vibe. You can't miss this one when visiting Madrid!

> Plaza de San Miguel

Mercado de San Miguel Madrid - Hotspot


Mercado de San Miguel Madrid - Hotspot


Mercado de San Miguel Madrid - Hotspot


Mercado de San Miguel Madrid - Hotspot

Ice cream | Mistura
A socially responsible ice cream place where everything you see has been recycled, although you can hardly notice. Instead, my attention goes straight to the ice cream, and the fun concept they created with it. Choose a flavour of ice cream (natural & home made with local products), pick a topping you'd like to go with it and they kind of smash the two together right in front of you, on an ice cold counter. I had pear with raspberry jam and green tea with white chocolate. Super yum!
> Calle Ciudad Rodrigo 6


Mistura Ice Cream Madrid - Hostpot


Mistura Ice Cream Madrid - Hostpot

Mistura Ice Cream Madrid - Hostpot

Mistura Ice Cream Madrid - Hostpot

Mistura Ice Cream Madrid - Hostpot

Shopping | Recoletos - Serrano 
If you ask me, the area Recoletos is where you'll do the best shopping in Madrid. On Calle de Serrano you'll find all major Spanish brands such as Zara (the biggest I've ever seen!), Uterqüe, Massimo Dutti (the nicest ever!), Bimba & Lola, Loewe, Aristocrazy etc. In the side streets of Serrano you'll find more unique shops that you don't find in the rest of Europe. Just walk around in this area and you'll find a lot of nice boutiques! Here are some addresses to get you started: 

Bangel Madrid | A tiny jewellery store where they sell everything from delicate little bracelets to diamond rings. They have a lot of different colours of each item in stock so you just need to ask!
> Calle Lagasca 72 

Ekseption Stock | The outlet shop of designer store Ekseption, with a big variety of brands such as Acne, Balmain, Valentino, Alexander Wang, J Brand, Dries Van Noten, Givenchy... This outlet has very nice items from previous seasons for really good prices. If you walk a little further you'll find the beautiful parroquia Santa Barbara. 
Calle Marqués de la Ensenada 2

Malababa | A spacious shop with unusual handmade jewellery, bags, shoes and leather goods. The jewellery is really unique and not too expensive. 
> Calle Lagasca 68

Essentiel Antwerp | The first Essentiel shop in Spain which only opened very recently. A cool  Antwerp brand which I just had to mention because the shop is beautiful!
> Calle de Claudio Coello 50

Aristocrazy | Spanish jewellery brand with good quality jewellery, from inexpensive to expensive. Beautiful designs and a lot of variety. In Europe, you can only find this brand in Spain.
> Calle de Serrano 42, Calle de Serrano 46, Calle de Goya 27 


Madrid Hotspot shopping guide


Madrid Hotspot shopping guide


Coffee break | El Perro y La Galleta
If you're a bit tired from shopping you can stop and take a break at this quirky place. It's dog-themed and dog friendly, so perfect if you want to make some new furry friends;) It has some great reviews for lunch as well, so I'll have to try this place next time.
> Calle de Claudio Coello 1


Madrid Hotspot shopping guide


Sightseeing | Puerta de Alcalá

In the middle of the Plaza de la Independencia, right at the entrance of the Retiro park, there's another famous monument: Puerta de Alcalá. This busy intersection is surrounded by popular cafés and restaurants such as Ramses and Harina. 
> Plaza de la Independencia 1


Madrid Hotspot shopping guide

Rooftop drinks | Circulo de Bellas Artes
When we had to queue and pay 4 euros to enter this place I was afraid this would be a disappointing tourist trap. But even though it's definitely not the city's best hidden secret, this rooftop is really worth a visit. It's very spacious, it has a few bars but most importantly it has an incredible view over Madrid. The drinks are a little pricier in Spanish terms but for European standards quite average (€10 for a big mojito). It's the perfect place for sunset watching! 

> Calle de Alcalá 42
Circulo Bellas Artes Rooftop Madrid - Hotspots

Circulo Bellas Artes Rooftop Madrid - Hotspots

Circulo Bellas Artes Rooftop Madrid - Hotspots


Since this post will otherwise become way too long, I'll be posting part two of my Madrid guide tomorrow with more places to see, eat and shop! I'm also making a Google Map with all the spots so you can easily see where all the spots are. I will include the map in this first part once I've posted part two as well. Hope you like it!

edit - find part two and the map here

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