48 HOURS IN Madrid


Marie Claire (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

madrid is the Span­ish se­cret I’d like to keep. Of­ten side­lined by beach­side Barcelona (the coun­try’s won­der­ful sec­ond-in-com­mand and Cata­lan port), Castil­ian Madrid is sun­shine per­son­i­fied. It is the scent of ex­quis­ite leather from shoe, bag and belt bou­tiques lin­ing cob­bled streets and al­ley­ways. Madrid is toma­toes – and not just any toma­toes: the sweet­est, juici­est toma­toes, sliced onto tostas and driz­zled with olive oil. Madrid is Raphael’s ‘Por­trait of a Car­di­nal’ at the Museo del Prado and Pi­casso’s ‘Guer­nica’ at the Reina Sofía. Madrid is a gi­ant who slum­bers each af­ter­noon to es­cape the heat.And awakes each evening in plazas and court­yards with young and old gath­ered an­i­mat­edly around jugs of san­gria and plat­ters of chorizo and ser­rano ham.


You’ve paired your wine with cheese and choco­late; now try it with your other love: books. Tipos In fames (Calle San Joaquin, 3) is a ‘book bar’ where you might read Joan Lind­sey’s Pic­nic at Hang­ing Rock while sip­ping on a crisp Aus­tralian white. Ge­nius. Ex­pose your palate to the un­for­get­table flavours of Span­ish tapas at the chic Mer­cado de San Miguel (Plaza de San Miguel). Take your pick of plump olives, salty jamón ibérico or flavour­ful em­panadas. La Bi­ci­cleta Café (Plaza de San Ilde­fonso, 9) is a hip spot with a pas­sion for bi­cy­cles, art and good cof­fee in equal parts. Join the lo­cals crowded into Museo del Jamón (Calle Gran Via, 72) for beer and de­li­cious, budget-friendly bo­cadil­los with jamón and queso (ham and cheese rolls).


Madrileños love to shop. At Loewe for leather and Camper for shoes; or at Span­ish he­roes Zara and Mango (and owner In­di­tex’s other cham­pi­ons: Bershka, Pull & Bear, and Mas­simo Dutti). Find them all in the Puerto del Sol area and along Gran Via. For lux­ury shop­ping, stroll Sala­manca’s grid of streets; for quirky bou­tiques and edgy fash­ion, head to Calle Fuen­car­ral. Pop into Do De­sign (Calle Fer­nando VI, 13) for clean, min­i­mal­ist items. Al­though big chains have, sadly, re­placed many spe­cial­ists, you’ll still find stores sell­ing only gloves or es­padrilles – try Calle Toledo be­hind Plaza Mayor.


A tour of the Span­ish Royal Fam­ily’s of­fi­cial (but not ac­tual) 2 000-room res­i­dence, Pala­cio Real de Madrid (Calle Bailén), is fas­ci­nat­ing. Dance floors fa­mously fill up around 2am. Think lo­cal: sched­ule an af­ter­noon siesta, 10pm din­ner, then drinks and head to Club Joy Eslava (Calle Are­nal, 11), the genre-spe­cific dance floors at Kap­i­tal (Calle Atoch, 125) or Ocho y Medio (Calle de Barceló, 11). Chur­ros con choco­late is an oblig­a­tory end to any such night (or morn­ing). Get yours at the 24-hour Cho­co­latería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5).


With larger-than-life wall fres­coes of male tor­sos (funky, some­how, not tacky) and a rooftop bar, the Room Mate Ós­car Madrid (Plaza Vázquez de Mella, 12) is down­right sexy. And su­per-cen­tral. Win.

Chic shop­ping at Mas­simo

Dutti. Left Sunny Madrid.

On sale at Do De­sign.

The quirky, fun La Bi­ci­cleta Café.

Left Street art. Right Loewe A/W ’13/14.

The Room Mate Ós­car Madrid ho­tel.

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