Visit the Spanish capital as it begins to flourish again following a tough recession. The city’s renewed energy is evident in hotel openings and an exciting food scene. Alongside brilliant tapas restaurants, Madrid is home to 25 Michelin stars.
Tina Nielsen has spent some time in the city and has come to agree with the local saying: de Madrid al cielo – from Madrid you head straight to heaven.
Las Salesas is a neighborhood t for a queen. Incidentally the convent that the area was named after was founded by one too – Queen Bárbara of Braganza.
New developments and launches in recent years have solid ed the barrio’s status as one of the top places to be in Madrid. At the top of Calle de Mejía Lequerica two openings on opposite sides demonstrate the new energy in the streets of Las Salesas: Hotel Urso, a fashionable boutique hotel sits opposite the newly revamped market, Mercado de Barceló.
Stop to appreciate the gorgeous Gaudí-like architecture on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo. This is the home of the Society of Spanish Writers and Editors and it is worth a visit if you are passing, though it’s only open to the public on the city’s architectural open day, usually in October.
A few blocks along on Calle Fernando VI – effectively the main street of the area – locals pack into El Cafétin for their morning fuel of café con leche and pan con tomate, the classic Spanish breakfast of toast with olive oil and tomato. The space is a modern take on a Spanish bar with good quality coffee.
Pop into La Duquesita to satisfy your sweet cravings. This typical Madrileño haven of artisanal pastries and sweets has been open since 1914. Chocolate lovers will appreciate the delicious tarte de trofa.
Two doors down, history meets fashion in men’s store Le Marché aux Puces. Located in an old bookshop, the store o ers curated items, from ties and shoes to bags from brands including Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Marni and Comme des Garçons. Armin Hildebrandt, a Spaniard with Swiss roots, named his boutique after the famous flea markets of Paris.
Head right on Calle Regueros where, at number eight, you will nd the new home of celebrated chef Diego Guerrero who opened his restaurant DSTAgE here in July 2014 and was awarded a Michelin star within months . Advance booking is required.
Next door visit organic artisanal bakery La Magdalena de Proust. Pick up a sourdough loaf and admire the selection of inspiring health foods. Also in Calle Regueros you’ll nd the well-established fashion store Pez, a favorite among stylists, fashionistas and actors.
On the other side of Calle Fernando VI walk up Calle Argumosa to hip restaurant Dray Martina for a modern take on classic Spanish dishes and a wonderful selection of wines.
A real favorite with the locals, it helps to have a reservation here.
Past Plaza de Las Salesas on Calle Bárbara de Braganza, watch out for Carolina Herrera the Venezuelan-American designer who made a statement when she chose Las Salesas
as the location for her shop. If you’re heading to the Museo Nacional Del Prado, be sure to visit after regular opening hours to escape the crowds and tour the collections in private. It is also possible to arrange dinner or a drink in one of the impressive gallery rooms after your private tour.
Blogger Almudena de la Peña writes about her home city on My Little Madrid with her sister, Marcela. Here are her top recommendations
Best for tapas: Any of the tapas bars on Ponzano Street. My favorite is the modern Sala de Despiece, which is very popular with locals. saladedespiece.com
Best bar in town: I really like many of the hotel bars, especially the bar at the Westin Palace (pictured below), well-known for making dry martinis for Ernest Hemingway. I also like the Dry Martini Bar in the Gran Meliá Fénix Hotel and ME, the rooftop bar of Hotel ME at Plaza de Santa Ana. westinpalacemadrid.com
Best for shopping: For a unique and bespoke shopping experience, I like the cool concept store, Federica & Co. at Calle de Hermosilla 26. federicastories.es
Best for culture: Visitors often miss some of the smaller museums that are really interesting, such as Museo Sorolla, the residence and atelier of impressionist painter Joaquín Sorrolla. museosorolla.mcu.es
Best off-the-beaten-track experience: I’d recommend a visit to la Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, a little chapel housing impressive Goya wall paintings. sanantoniodelaflorida.es