A neoclassical city, Madrid actually has a lot more to offer than elegant buildings, Goya paintings and tortilla. With contemporary artists in residence, trendy concept stores, sweet chocolate churros… The Spanish capital is definitely an eclectic city.
Often considered a historic city, Madrid actually has a lot more to offer than elegant buildings, Goya paintings and the traditional tortilla omelette. Madrid’s calles are full of surprises and trendy hot spots. From contemporary artists in residence to cozy concept stores and sweet chocolate churros, the Spanish capital is possibly one of Europe’s most eclectic cities.
Ah, the delights of those small morsels of deep fried dough, dosed in unctuous chocolate. Everything about churros is truly decadent. And Chocolatería San Ginés, one of the oldest chocolate makers in town, has been serving churros since 1894! Now that’s tradition for you. The chocolate shop may be rather touristy – they even have a shop in Tokyo – but it’s worthwhile. The space is big, the atmosphere is friendly, and the churros are simply fantastic.
Hotel Urso, hotel and spa
Set in an early 20th century palace, Hotel Urso is the epitome of eclectic Madrid. The classical style of the building contrasts with the modern, almost New York interiors. The rooms are light and airy, with all the usual mod cons. As a sign of the times, the hotel has even partnered with Tesla to offer universal chargers for electric vehicles. Food-wise, the hotel is spot on: The Conservatory is a quaint setting for breakfast, while the restaurant, Media Ración, offers a fantastic choice of traditional dishes served in the typical Madrid serving sizes. The idea is to mix, match and share, while sipping a red vermouth or even a Tinto de Verano: a typical Madrid tipple.
Do design, concept store
A vintage space with rustic touches, white painted brick walls and wooden furniture. Do Design could very well be a Scandinavian shop, but this cosy concept store definitely feels Spanish. The modular displays were designed, after all, by local designer Juan Ruiz-Rivas. Carefully chosen furniture, stationary and decorative objects fill the space as if each piece had been perfectly curated. Fashion items as well as accessories line the walls as they would in someone’s home. It’s impossible to leave without splashing out on a Mark’s notebook or a Steve Mono bag.
El Coque, restaurant
After decades in Humanes, south of the capital, restaurant El Coque has moved its two Michelin stars to the very centre of Madrid. The space, designed by Jean Porsche, is almost twice as big, yet the service and attention to detail is still close to perfect. The originality here is the way you taste Mario Sandoval’s imaginative dishes. You start at the bar with a cocktail and light nibbles, then walk to the huge cellar, stacked with over 3,000 bottles, where Diego Sandoval, the sommelier, takes you through the vast selection of wines. Next, you head through the kitchens to meet Mario and his team, before entering the dining room and settling down for a gastronomic ride. Choosing between two tasting menus, Q17 and Q17+, is not an easy feat, but if you opt for the latter menu, you’ll be savouring twelve separate dishes and as many wines, including a 2006 vintage Dom Pérignon. It’s the gourmet equivalent of a roller-coaster.
Museo Nacional del Prado, museum
The Museo Nacional del Prado is a Madrid classic, being one of the most visited galleries in the world with jewels such as some of the most noteworthy artworks by Velázquez, Goya and El Greco. In parallel to the permanent exhibitions, el Prado presents numerous compelling temporary exhibits. In 2019, the museum celebrates its bicentenary which promises an exciting programme for the coming months.
Salmon Guru, bar
First things first, the name. Salmon Guru is a fantastic thing to call an experimental cocktail bar. For some reason, star mixologist Diego Cabrera absolutely wanted the bar to be called Salmon. “Guru” is the name of the Indian restaurant that previously occupied the haunts. Old and new, eclectic and fun; just like the neon interiors and extensive cocktail menu. The bartenders at Salmon Guru are not simple subordinates; their role is to inspire, create and experiment. There is even the possibility of privatising part of the bar for a short time to enjoy a one-to-one bartending experience.
La Casa Encendida, cultural centre
Culture meets solidarity at La Casa Encendida: a new type of space for artistic expression. The building, set in the southern part of town, offers a whole array of possibilities and events, from exhibitions, screening, talks, concerts and performances. Everything centres around four main themes: arts, solidarity, the environment and education, right down to their enormous library and creative laboratory. Even the Café and Solidarity Ecoshop respect the sustainable and humanitarian values of the place with fairtrade goods and locally sourced produce.