Barcelo Torre de Madrid – Madrid city break
2018 couldn’t have start any better. As a lifestyle influencer I travel a lot, and this year is dedicated to creating new memories in different parts of the world. Last week I visited Madrid for the first time. As a Latin myself, I am always fascinated by Spain and how I identify so much with it’s culture and vibe. Madrid is a vibrant city. From sprawling museums to traditional restaurants and bars, there is no corner left uncovered by curious tourists and locals alike. If you find yourself planning a trip to Madrid, I have narrowed down for you all you need to know.
WHERE TO STAY IN MADRID
In a city as modern as Madrid, you should choose the best location and the most eclectic hotel the city has to offer. Barceló Torre de Madrid checks all of the above, with it’s avant-garde style. Designed by internationally renowned Spanish designer Jaime Hayón, winner of the EDIDA 2016 design award, the 5 stars hotel is located just minutes from the city’s main arteries. The location is excellent as the hotel is right in the Plaza de España, a few steps from the Gran Vía, a 10-minute walk from the Royal Palace of Madrid and a 15-minute walk from the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor. What once was the city’s tallest building, the 36-storey Torre de Madrid sits on a wide boulevard, lined with theatres, cinemas and high street stores. Now the hotel occupies the first 9 floors and although you might want the beaches of other Spanish cities, Madrid has to offer plenty of culture, nightlife and shopping opportunities.
The hotel has 258 rooms fully equipped, designed with a perfect blend of modernity and sophistication. I am in the process of moving and obviously I am looking for decorating ideas. The hotel is a tremendous source of inspiration, with its eclectic use of colour, lighting and textures, blended into a stylish, modern and comfortable city-centre retreat. The retro palette of powder pink, sage green or slate grey are mixed with the furniture – much of it designed by Hayon – combining shades of sapphire, emerald and ruby. The rooms are spacious, minimal, facing the Plaza de Espana and the stunning busy view of the city centre. I was so impressed with the double glazing windows as, although we were in the middle of everything, the room was so quiet and peaceful. The rooms feature an etched mirrored wall behind the bed, colourful chairs (mine was marshmallow pink), and a bathroom featuring a fabulous walk-in shower with a zig-zag-patterned monochrome marble wall that would definitely be the accent I want to “borrow” in my bathroom.
The lobby has a beautiful lounge area, as does the second floor reception. In terms of facilities, there’s a ground floor bar, Garra, which uses one of the building’s structural pillars as a shelving unit for its bottles, hung with quirky porcelain gold and white striped lamps. At the second floor the signature restaurant Somos is designed as a modern palm court with red tables and chairs opposed to mirrored wall panels. The restaurant makes Spanish dishes with a twist, such as mushroom croquetas, pork cheeks teriyaki or The breakfast is served buffet style, featuring Spanish delicacies as chorizo sausage, Manchego cheese, jamon Iberico my favourite, churros with chocolate sauce, fresh omelettes done by order, and the usual continental offerings. The skylit swimming pool on the eight floor is an outdoor solarium including a small spa and a gym space.
WHAT TO DO IN MADRID
The hotel is on the fringes of two of Madrid’s up and coming neighbourhoods, Conde Duque and Malasana. You can explore their narrow, medieval streets in an afternoon, home to independent boutiques, vintage stores and vermouth bars. On Sundays, it’s well worth a wander around the El Rastro open air antique and flea market, which covers dozens of streets around the central barrio de Embajadores district, selling everything from comic books to leather jackets. Tick off the tourist hotspots of the city’s magnificently baroque Royal Palace, and the vast, classically-designed Plaza Mayor.
There are at least three essential spots to visit in Madrid. The first is Plaza Major, where you can relax with a cup of café con leche, admire the statue of Felipe III. The Puerta de Alcala is another must to see. In Plaza de la Independencia this ancient neoclassical-style gateway to Madrid is wonderful. Next to the Catedral de la Almudena, it’s the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Spanish royal family, although they now live in the Zarzuela Palace. The opulent 18th-century palace stands on a strategic site with views across the countryside. Used for official events, it is crammed with paintings, sculptures, tapestries and antiques. You can also visit the Puerta del Moro gardens for a relaxing experience.
Exploring the art triangle of Madrid is a must. The Museo del Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza should be on your to-do list while in Madrid. Seeing masters such as Velázquez, El Greco and Goya, with paintings by Raphael, Titian and Tintoretto, Bosch and Rubens is definitely worth your time. Debod Temple is an 2000 years old Egyptian temple standing on the western edge of the city centre and is a romantic spot to watch the sun go down. The Madrid’s busy life is a favourite among young people, couples and whoever want to infuse themselves with culture, beauty as well as with a modern lifestyle.
FOOD IN MADRID
If you’re after a traditional Spanish cuisine experience, tapas or gastrobar, Madrid is a gourmet place anchored on its roots, still updating favourite dishes to foreign influences. If you like good quality, no-nonsense food, be sure to have a meal at one of the classic restaurants near the Plaza Mayor. For a lively evening, embark on a tapas crawl down Cava Baja or around Plaza Santa Ana.
We’ve had an amazing time at the historic wrought-iron-and-glass Mercado de San Miguel, just off Plaza Mayor. One of the liveliest culinary spots in the city, the place is buzzing with stalls selling fresh produce, tapas bars offering a wide variety of treats such as gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) and banderillas (small skewers of olives, cucumbers, peppers and pickled onions).Don’t miss the mouth-watering displays of oysters, cava, chocolate, caviar, gulas (imitation baby eels made from surimi), and stuffed sea urchins.
We’ve also visited ‘Sobrino de Botin’, the oldest restaurant in the world, located in the heart of Madrid. Botin is a typical Spanish four floors (including the cellar) restaurant, with a centuries old wood fire oven, dating back to 1725. The house specialties are cochinillo asado (succulent roast suckling pig with crispy skin) and cordero asado (roast lamb), cooked following old style Castilian recipes.
I definitely recommend a city break to Madrid, or an extended holiday to this bustling, energetic city. Madrid is hectic yet relaxed, it has a friendly vibe that can easily be explored on foot. Spain’s largest city and its capital, Madrid is for travellers interested in famous paintings and stunning architecture, but it’s also for those looking for a relaxed good time. Weather you fall in love with the art museums, delicious tapas, shopping or the Madrid nightlife, your trip to Spain’s capital city will leave you captivated by it’s beauty.