The plethora of art, culture, cuisine, fashion, and history that lends Spain its distinct character also puts it on the list of exceptional destinations. It would be an understatement to say that dynamism runs in the veins of Spain. If there’s one city in Spain that manages to converge the best of its vibes and offerings, it is Madrid.The throbbing heart of Spain, Madrid, is the place to soak up the essence of the vivacious country. By Team T+L
People don’t go to Madrid just to see its attractions and partake in the popular activities, but to experience a unique way of life. If Spain is known for its free-spirited milieu, Madrid is at the heart of it, geographically and figuratively. With an engaging art scene, streets infused with infectious energy, culinary traditions that have stood the test of time, an enviable smorgasbord of bars, a buzzing nightlife, and foot-tapping Flamenco performances, Madrid is one of the liveliest cities in the world today.
WHEN IN MADRID, STAY IN STYLE
The capital city houses excellent hotels. From traditional and boutique to modern and extravagant, there’s plenty to choose from. While the iconic Hotel Ritz, Madrid is due to re-open as New Ritz Mandarin Oriental post extensive renovation by the end of 2020, other classic venues such as the InterContinental Madrid, The Westin Palace, and Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques, among others, have their doors open round the year. With the city’s growing popularity, more and more luxury hotels are emerging. Some of the new names include Hotel Riu Plaza de España, located in the emblematic Edificio España on Madrid’s Gran Vía, Four Seasons Hotel Madrid to open in early 2020, and the five-star design marvel VP Plaza de España.
FLAUNT ALL THAT FASHION
The 21st-century version of Madrid is on par with its contemporary European capitals when it comes to fashion. From the most luxurious global brands to home-grown labels that are putting the country on the fashion map, the city has it all. On your shopping list should be an elegant Malababa or a peSeta. Be warned, the tempting collections at outlets of the Spanish brand ZARA will make you want to loosen those purse strings. Sex and the City fans may want to check out designer Manolo Blahnik’s store on Calle de Serrano. In the heart of the historic district, just off the Royal Palace, Lepanto sells handcrafted leather bags and accessories, watches and jewellery, and high-end luxury porcelain from various labels—Spanish and otherwise. To take your pick of the ridiculously famous Manila shawl, trust Borca at Marqués Viudo de Pontejos – 2 to show you the best pieces. The most exclusive labels can be found in Milla de Oro, the area formed by the Serrano, Ayala, Goya, Ortega y Gasset, Lagasta, and Jorge Juan streets. Preciados Street is one of the premium shopping destinations in Madrid, and Huertas is the ideal place to mix a shopping spree with a heavy dose of art and culture.
The astonishing collection of art galleries and museums in Madrid is the legacy of Spanish royals who courted numerous painters back in the day and built up impressive collections of masterpieces from across Europe. An art capital in its own right, Madrid houses works of some of the finest artists—from Spanish painters such as Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Goya, and Velázquez, to Flemish and Italian greats. If you had to pick three venues to explore the art scene of Madrid, let Museo Nacional del Prado (which is currently celebrating its second centenary with a special exhibition), Museo Nacional Reina Sofía, and Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum be the museums on your list. Better still, remember just one name: Paseo del Arte. Literally meaning the art walk, this is a one-kilometre-long stretch that houses the aforementioned museums among others. A guided tour of Palacio de Liria—the 18th-century neoclassical palace of the revered Alba family—must not be missed.
GASTRONOMY AT ITS BEST
In a country that is known for leisurely long lunches and the ritual of merienda, the fantastic food scene shouldn’t come as a surprise. To make the best of it, it’s recommended that you sample both—the long-standing traditional restaurants and the modern culinary landscape decorated with Michelin stars. There are dishes that commonly follow the stew pot cooking technique, for instance the famous cocido madrileño, which you can find at most restaurants round the year. For those interested in culinary rarities, the gallinejas y entresijos (lamb offal) can be found at festivals. Despite being landlocked, Madrid has managed to make seafood an integral part of its gastronomy. Besugo a la madrileña (red bream with garlic and onion), a favourite among locals, has been a part of the traditional Spanish cuisine for over six centuries now. Choose from a range of gourmet markets, such as San Miguel Market and La Paz Market, for an immersive food experience. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants such as Restaurante Vegetariano and Ecocentro cater to the diversity of travellers that come to experience the city. With the release of The Michelin Guide 2020, Madrid now boasts 24 restaurants with Michelin stars—99 KŌ Sushi Bar and Gofio by Cicero Canary being the latest additions. But it is the cocktail bar culture of Madrid that has shot to fame. Think historic taverns, art deco spaces, and splendid rooftops transformed into lively bars. The most popular of them all, Salmon Guru, ranked 19th on the list of World’s 50 Best Bars 2018!
DID YOU KNOW?
- Air India serves direct flights from Delhi to Madrid every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- The city enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year.
- Nine UNESCO World Heritage Cities—Segovia, Toledo, Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, San Lorenzo del Escorial, Cuenca, Córdoba, Salamanca, and Ávila—are only two hours away from Madrid.