Where to Stay in Madrid
Get straight into the Madrid swing by staying at the super-cool Hotel Urban, where the rooftop pool is a total celeb hotspot. Bang in the centre, you can sashay from sightseeing to salsa dancing without resorting to sensible footwear. At the stylish Unico (C/Claudio Coello, 67; +34 91 781 0173). in the swanky Salamanca neighbourhood, foodies can simply slide downstairs to the Ramon Freixa restaurant, which has two Michelin stars. Everyone from Prada to Manolo Blahnik has a boutique in the surrounding streets, making this shopaholic heaven.
Even people who know Madrid backwards would be hard put to tell you exactly where the Room Mate Laura is (Travesia de Trujillos 3; +34 91 701 1670), but it’s right in the heart of the city and rather handy for shopping. The loft rooms - all bright colours, bold design and sharp attitude - attract a lot of showbiz types, but thankfully rates are more real world than rock star. Over in Chueca, its more nightlife-infused sister hotel, Room Mate Oscar has a cool bar and a rooftop pool going for it.
Where to Eat in Madrid
Fashionista-favourite Bar Tomate buzzes from breakfast through to late-night cocktails (C/Fernando El Santo, 26; +34 91 702 3870). Try the gorgonzola croquettes and the signature tomatoes roasted in the wood-fired oven. Get into the groove of boho Malasaña at the formicatastic Lolina Vintage Café (Calle del Espiritu Santo, 9; +34 667 201 169), which serves great smoothies, tasty toasties and punchy cocktails. After visiting the Prado museum, kick back at Estado Puro (Plaza Canovas del Castillo 4; +34 91 330 2400), a gastro bar run by Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero. Sit at high stools inside or grab a table on the terrace and order the asparagus in tempura and the exquisite miniburgers. For an alfresco dinner or just drinks, seek out trendy Gaudeamus (C/Tribulete, 14; +34 91 528 2594) on the roof terrace of the Escuelas Pias University in the multicultural Lavapies neighbourhood. The tuna carpaccio, marinated in mint, is the perfect dish on a hot night. The grazing paradise Mercado de San Miguel (Plaza Oriente, 3) is an essential stop for foodies from morning to midnight. Get a glass of cava, wine or vermouth then pick up Iberico ham, seafood and artisan cheeses from the stalls.
Where to Go Out in Madrid
For post-shopping cocktails in the chic Las Salesas neighbourhood, drop into Le Cabrera. Top mixologist Diego Cabrera is the man with the shaker downstairs, while upstairs is a gastrobar run by Michelin-starred chef Sergi Arola (Paseo de Recoletos; +34 91 319 9457). Also lively from early evening onwards is Olé Lola, a kitsch bar between Chueca and Malasaña (C/de San Mateo, 28; +34 91 3106695). Flamenco and other performance events take place most nights in the back room of Artebar in the lively La Latina area, which also serves great tapas and cocktails (San Bruno, 3; +34 615 115627). If you want to get up and dance yourself, head for Cardamomo (C/Echegaray, 15; +34 91 3690757), where there's also live music most nights. Nearby, hit the Penthouse at the ME Madrid hotel (Plaza de Santa Ana, 14; +34 917 016020). Don’t let the churning tide of bronzed limbs and teetering heels distract you from the views across the old town, which looks fabulously romantic in the moonlight.
Where to Shop in Madrid
Some of Spain’s hottest designers have boutiques on Calle Jorge Juan in the upmarket Salamanca neighbourhood. Look out for Davidelfin (C/Jorge Juan 20; +34 91 700 0454) and red-carpet favourite Hannibal Laguna (C/Jorge Juan, 35; +34 91 577 1029). Check out Catalan designer Sita Murt for wearable yet distinctive clothes (C/Jorge Juan, 43; +34 93 803 7411). Nearby on Calle Claudio Coello, Espacio Chus Bures (C/Claudio Coello, 88; +34 91 576 3901) is the place to find sculptural statement pieces by one of Spain’s leading jewellery designers. On the edge of cool Chueca, the funky boutiques along Calle Fuencarral are a magnet for the city’s hip crowd, including Camper(C/Fuencarral 51; +34 91 531 2347), Custo Barcelona (C/Fuencarral, 29; +34 91 360 4636) and Hoss Intropia (C/Fuencarral, 16; +34 91 399 3112). Spin off into Malasaña toAntigua Casa Crespo (C/Divino Pastor, 29; +34 91 521 5654), which was founded in 1865 and stocks a mindboggling range of espadrilles. Near Puerta del Sol, seek outCapas Seseña (C/Cruz, 23; +34 91 531 6840) which has been selling nothing but capes for more than 100 years.
What to Wear in Madrid
Madrileñas have got it nailed when it comes to looking hot while keeping cool. Don’t bother deciding on day and night outfits – just wear what you want when you want and feel fabulous all day. Think halter-neck wafty maxis or loose vests with shorts and wedges.
Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Madrid
For the latest haircuts, head to directional salon Juan, Por Dios! (C/ Perez Galdos, 3; +34 91 523 3649), with branches in Chueca and Malasaña. Nearby on Calle Barquillo, get a manicure at ultrachic Mi Calle de NY (C/Ayala, 32; +34 91 196 5444). Relax after a day’s shopping at Medina Mayrit (Calle de Atocha, 14; +34 902 333334), just off the Plaza Mayor. Soak in the pools of the hammam, have a massage then chill out in the café.