TÓTEM, MADRID.

Gay Times Magazine - - TRAVEL - totem-madrid.com

Words Si­mon Gage

Where is it?

In the rinky dinky area of Sala­manca, a short trot from the smart Re­tiro park in amongst ritzy bou­tiques, a swift 20-minute wile from down­town Sol and about the same from the gay dis­tricts of Chueca and Malasaña. So, y’know, handy.

Why so lovely?

In an area not known for its ooh la la, there’s plenty of the stuff in this 19th cen­tury build­ing, from the dark woods and brasses of the re­cep­tion through the navy walls, blue velvets and grainy woods of the lounge and bar to rooms where all the de­tails have been pored over. Ev­ery light switch is a thing of beauty. It’s called de­sign and it’s in the right hands at this place.

First im­pres­sions?

It may be chic but the staff are cheeky and friendly. We might even go so far as to say flirty in a way that we found al­to­gether ac­cept­able.

And the ac­com­mo­da­tions?

Our at­tic room may not have had an ac­tual view onto an ac­tual street but we did have nice skies – blue some­times, rainy oth­ers, thank you for ask­ing. A big bath­room with two-man shower and big bath (and more sky), a lit­tle sit­ting area that you could work at and lovely lamp­shades.

And the food?

A very smart ‘name’ restau­rant called El Pimiento Verde (The Green Pep­per), spe­cial­is­ing in Basque food, is at­tached, mean­ing that you can have your break­fast there or dip into de­lights such as ar­ti­choke flow­ers, fried squid and ‘warm salad from fish­er­men with clams, gu­las and prawns’. How funny are for­eign­ers?

What is there to do?

Well, it’s Madrid so there’s ev­ery­thing from world-class gal­leries like The Prado (that’s an ‘o’, noth­ing to do with fash­ion) and Thyssen-Borne­misza Mu­seum, a bril­liant one-stop-shop for the his­tory of Western art to scratchy mar­kets, great food, you should even try a fla­menco tablao: yeah, it sounds kitschy and touristy but it’s ac­tu­ally re­ally weird and ex­cit­ing. The ho­tel should be able to hook you up.

And the gay bit?

Tra­di­tion­ally, the gay bit was around Chueca but the smart gays have moved across to Malasaña next door, so check out both ar­eas. Cazador in Calle Pozas is a good place to start: run by a Spa­niard who used to live in Shored­itch, it’s got that cool, laid-back, fucked up vibe that you wear so well.

Silk wind­breaker by Pa­trick McDow­ell, dun­ga­rees by One Tea­spoon, neck­lace and bracelet by Alex Orso, sun­glasses by Lyn­don Leone, watch by GaGa Mi­lano

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