Madrid – highest capital city in Europe and 2nd largest city in the European Union after Berlin (now that London has decided to leave the EU).
To travel is to live – I couldn’t agree more. Travel induces a bottomless list of benefits, be it cultural, spiritual or enabling mind openness. Amongst this list, it triggers a reward that will last you forever. And that is friendship all around the globe. Everywhere I travel, intentionally or naturally I develop long lasting genuine relationships with locals that emphasises the overall experience and evokes that feeling of wanting to go back again and again.
Experiences are everything. Human beings are social creatures, therefore we base our reviews on interaction, connection and relationships. As many of us might have observed or felt before, we can dine in a 3 starred Michelin restaurant and still not feel quite as good if the experience is not powerful enough.
And this is why Madrid always feels like home for me and I try to go back every year. Beyond its beauty as a city, the close friendships I have developed there over the years make it priceless.
So why don’t you follow me on a short weekend get away in Madrid? A full travel package including a day trip to the mountains.
This time I don’t have to book a hotel as my lovely girlfriends, Susana and Sara have kindly invited me to stay at theirs. I haven’t seen them in a year, so the excitement is bursting out of my chest.
However, if you are looking for a hotel my recommendation would be either the iconic landmark Ritz Hotel, Plaza de la Lealtad 5 28014 Madrid, Spain for guaranteed classic luxury in centre, featuring gorgeous gardens and surrounded by iconic art museums or the Dear Hotel, located on the famous Gran Via Street, 80, 28013 Madrid, Spain if you are looking for an easy going, laid back atmosphere. Moreover, you can enjoy fantastic downtown views from the rooftop garden and pool terrace.
I arrive after midnight, so after a looong catch up with the girls we go to sleep to gain forces for a full interactive new day in the city.
I commence my day with a visit to the Museum of Romanticism, a fairytale drawn from the18th-19th century’s love stories, located at Calle San Mateo, 13, 28004 Madrid, Spain. The museum was built by Don Benigno de la Vega-Inclán y Flaquer, the second Marquis of Vega Inclán. It now belongs to the state since 1921. An exhilarating collection featuring art masters such as Goya, Federico de Madrazo, and Leonardo Alenza. Make sure you stop for an organic tart at the museums secret garden.
I then stop to briefly admire Madrid’s History Museum’s breathtaking baroque architecture situated at Calle de Fuencarral, 78, 28004 Madrid, Spain and featuring iconic historical paintings.
The early morning art intake is followed by a must-have keratin treatment at my favourite treatment salon Rogelaine Imagen Lifestyle, located at Calle de Embajadores, 274, 28045 Madrid, Spain. Becoming a yearly routine, a group of joyful and friendly experts keep my hair healthy, easy to style and smooth at all times. Be sure to make a booking at +34 915 27 37 24.
I return to the centre for a long walk on Calle Serrano and the perpendicular streets where I discover an architectural wonder and fine local fashion designers boutiques. Be sure to check out Calle Ortega y Gasset where you can shop from both local boutiques and high end stores.
As my stomach is urging for a spanish feast, I land at a traditional yet modern restaurant called Tierra del Queiles, located at C/ Hermosilla, 7 Madrid. Although situated just off Calle Serrano this bar manages to overwhelm me with its cosiness and to die for dishes.
Best Ice Cream in Town – Mistura
I skip dessert to leave room for the best ice cream & coffee latte in town – Mistura located at Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 5. Embrace yourself, your taste buds are about to embark on a sensational and tasteful journey. I mentioned the importance of personalisation for the customer many times before, and as per the Gelateria GROM example, Mistura was created by two entrepreneurs as well, Carlos and Carmelo. As they say, they provide the ambience, the space, the smiles and the most delicious natural ingredients – and you create your own ice cream. You can combine an ice cream flavours mix with any topping you’d like, from exotic fruits to chocolate bites.
As if I haven’t spoiled myself enough, I go for dinner at this chic, newly opened restaurant – Habanera, situated at Genova Street 28. Featuring a vibrant urban setting and a caribbean & mediterranean cuisine, this restaurant & lounge is the to-go-to place in Madrid this summer. The whole ensemble, a palette of fresh grey and creams blends in beautifully with the vibrant green array of plants. Don’t mind the reviews, although the initial weeks weren’t as good, the restaurant has certainly revamped its menu, ingredients and presentation.
Another option for dinner would be Ana La Santa located in Plaza de Santa Ana, 14, 28012 Madrid, Spain, where you can enjoy delicious traditional tapas at the bar or a highly flavoured paella in the dining room.
Plaza de Santa Ana offers a wide array of options including the stunning rooftop bar at the ME by Melia Hotel, located no. 14, Madrid 28012, Spain.
Dinner is followed by a welcome dose of edgy elegance at Fortuny Restaurant & Club, situated at Calle de Fortuny, 34, 28010 Madrid, Spain. A sophisticated modern large terrace, home of some of the best cocktails in Madrid and best DJs in the world.
Other options for cutting edge design and ambience terraces and rooftops in Madrid are the rooftop bar at Hotel Oscar (Plaza de Pedro Zerolo, 12, 28004 Madrid, Spain), the terrace at Casa de America (Paseo de Recoletos, 11) and Tartan Roof at the Hotel Circulo Bellas Artes (Calle del Marqués de Casa Riera, 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain).
Day 2 brings along an unforgettable day at my friend’s estate in the mountains, more specifically in the Alpedrete village. It feels like a corner hidden from the rest of the world, blessed with mesmerising landscapes of nature, colourful plants and lush green trees branches.
All the houses in this area and surrounding are made of raw materials and local wood, featuring large courtyards and wonderful pools that enable you to escape the hot weather in the city. The plan for the day is very straight forward – kick back and fully relax in this perfectly cosy ambience.
Nevertheless, the homemade potato tortilla, spanish jamon, huevos rellenos (filled boiled eggs), queso manchego (my favourite kind of cheese) and the sweet sangria are present all throughout the day. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that after copious amounts of food I feel the need to go for a walk in the village.
I realise that this is a residential area only, however after a brief research I discover that not far away from here, there’s a small town called Guadarrama that caters for visitors seeking colder temperatures, especially during summer time. Several hotel options can be found on booking.com. Beyond the obvious alluring landscapes, what’s interesting is that Gudarrama was home to intensive fighting during the Spanish Civil War and as a result post war, the town had be rebuilt completely. 30km more from here and you arrive at Sierra de Guadarrama National Park – the 5th largest in Spain, covering approximately 34,000 hectares.
Experience a whole new side of Madrid and its surroundings, the perfect escape for a summery weekend.