How To Spend A Weekend In Madrid
How To Spend A Weekend In Madrid

How To Spend A Weekend In Madrid

Madrid has always been a top choice for a city break, but thanks to a string of hotel and restaurant openings over the last few years, it’s cooler than ever. Add to that a world-class art scene and beautiful parks, and now’s looks like the perfect time to hit the Spanish capital. Here’s what to see and do during the course of a weekend there…
By Sherri Andrew
Image: MAR MÍA

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Dani At Four Seasons
Dani At Four Seasons


Madrid has always been the grand dame of Spain, but it feels particularly buzzy right now thanks to a flurry of cool hotel openings in the city centre – The Edition opened last summer and Nobu will open its doors next year.

For total luxury, book a room at the Four Seasons , which arguably has the best location of any hotel in the city, between Puerta del Sol and Barrio de las Letras and within walking distance of the main sites. There are 200 rooms, from spacious doubles to palatial suites, all with marble bathrooms and thoughtful extras like travel adapters, dimmable lighting and luxury toiletries. It’s a family friendly option thanks to the indoor rooftop pool which has great city views – and it also has the largest spa in the city. Guests have a choice of three restaurants including Dani García’s Dani Brasserie and Isa, which serves Asian dishes while DJs set the vibe.

Five minutes down the road is The Edition near Puerta de Sol. Within walking distance of Madrid’s ‘golden triangle’ of art – three of its most important museums – the hotel has 200 rooms and suites, some with terraces offering beautiful city views. There’s also a fitness centre and spa with an outdoor pool, five restaurants and cafés, plus a cocktail bar. Our favourite part is the impressive rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy cocktails poolside.

Other spots drawing cool crowds to the city include Tótem and Urso Hotel. The former is a boutique hotel adjacent to the affluent Jorge Juan neighbourhood. Set in a restored 19th-century building, the hotel has a grown-up aesthetic with Farrow & Ball colours in its 64 rooms and minimalist interiors throughout. There’s also a modern tapas restaurant and a bar with live jazz at the weekends. Meanwhile, Urso attracts a foodie crowd thanks to its award-winning restaurant which serves the small plates Madrid is famous for. There’s also an excellent breakfast and brunch, while the lobby bar is the place to spot stylish locals sipping on rioja.

The Edition
The Edition

For a more affordable stay, newcomer Ocean Drive is next to Teatro Real opera house and some of the city’s best boutiques and designer stores. Interiors are contemporary and modern, and the hotel has impressive sustainability credentials, from bioclimatic strategies and passive air systems to eco-friendly products. The 72 rooms have Scandi-inspired interiors – some even have record players, photo printers and beer taps. Guests can lounge on the rooftop before taking a dip in the pool or tucking into Andalusian seafood dishes at the restaurant. Room007 Select Sol also offers great value for money (rooms from £80 a night). A five-minute walk from Puerta del Sol, rooms are simple but chic with balcony views and compact bathrooms with powerful showers. There isn’t a restaurant but guests can order food from a nearby café. There’s also a lovely outdoor courtyard, and staff are friendly and helpful.


Madrid’s food scene is varied and exciting, with new openings popping up each week. Advanced booking at the best restaurants is advised, but there are plenty of spaces for walk-ins, particularly at lunchtime which starts around 3pm (the Spanish are known for eating late). During a recent trip, our favourite spot was La Cocina de Frente – a ten-minute walk from the beautiful El Retiro park. Diners can sit in its light and bright dining room for long lunches of elevated ‘home-cooked’ dishes and small plates that celebrate seasonal veg. Alongside classic ham croquetas, our favourites included string beans with a pine nut and herb sauce, squid with a black ink sauce, and an excellent ‘tomato tartare’ complete with an egg yolk. Desserts including cinnamon bread and butter pudding, and Spanish flan. We’d also recommend dinner at Mo de Movimiento, which is set in a restored theatre and recording studio. Expect Mediterranean dishes like caponata with anchovies, smoked aubergine, and courgette fritters – as well as sourdough pizzas and crowd-pleasing desserts like tiramisu and banoffee pie.

If you want to see and be seen, head to Mar Mía at Ocean Drive hotel. Calling itself an ‘urban chiringuito’, the restaurant has cool beach bar vibes. Everything revolves around Mediterranean dishes and tapas like ceviche, truffled Spanish omelette, garlic shrimp, grilled crab and monkfish tails served with rice and padron peppers. There’s also a great selection of tequila and mezcal – ask the mixologists to surprise you with a bespoke cocktail. For Japanese dishes, visit Tora, which is set over two floors with its own sushi bar. There’s an omakase menu made with Spanish ingredients, so you’ll want to sit at the bar to watch the chefs at work.


We don’t need to tell you Madrid is all about tapas. Follow the locals to find the busiest places where ordering is hectic and fun. For an authentic experience, Bar Cruz in Calle de la Cruz is a lively spot with reasonably priced half pints of beer served alongside calamari, razor clams and towering bowls of snails. For something a little more refined, Casa González is a restaurant and deli serving charcuterie meats, cheeses and tinned seafood. There’s also an excellent 40-strong wine list with glasses costing under €4. Indoor food market Platea Madrid is a must. Housing six Michelin-starred eateries under one roof, it’s got several mezzanines with various dining options, from tapas to pizza and pasta. Once a grand cinema, the venue now has a rotating programme of music, cabaret, and dance performances.

During an afternoon of shopping or exploring the city’s galleries, stop at Feliz Coffee, a lovely city-centre café. Order coffee and iced drinks, or visit in the evening for natural wines and nibbles. Toma Café Olavide is also a good spot for coffee, sandwiches and pastries. Meanwhile, relaxed evenings are best spent at Gota Wine Bar for local wines with delicious small plates. Sit at the bar to watch the DJs on the decks. Finally, the famous Chocolatería San Ginés serves some of the best churros in the city. All come with overflowing cups of dark hot chocolate served Spanish style – thick and strong.


For designer and high-end clothing and accessories, Spain’s most iconic department store El Corte Inglés should be your first stop. There’s a great selection of designer pieces from some of SL’s favourite brands including La DoubleJ, Zimmermann, Loewe, Isabel Marant and Cult Gaia. There’s also an indoor-outdoor food court, a grocery store selling hard-to-find ingredients, and a rooftop bar. The store also offers hands-free shopping, VIP experiences and tax refunds for UK travellers. Ekseption on Calle de Velázquez has a great range of brands and vintage pieces, as does Pez – a favourite for fashion editors and those in the know. Smaller independent European brands can be found in the Barrio de Salamanca area.

Mar Mía
Mar Mía

El Rastro flea market is not to be missed on a Sunday. The largest flea market in Europe has over 700 stalls with clothing, vintage accessories, handmade jewellery, antique furniture and souvenirs. Look out for the stalls selling handmade quilted jackets, bags and make-up pouches. If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of a lively food market, Mercado de la Cebada sells everything from meat and fish to veg and deli items. Meanwhile, cheese lovers should make a beeline for Formaje which has an excellent selection of Spanish cheeses.


El Retiro is Madrid’s most famous park. Locals lie in the shade under the trees and around the lake, while visitors take in the grand statues and French-inspired manicured lawns. There’s a rose garden with over 4,000 roses in bloom from May to June, plus a beautiful crystal palace which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Other parks worth a visit include the Royal Botanical Gardens, the vast 4,200-acres Casa de Campo and Parque del Oeste.

Madrid is proud of its artistic credentials. Its ‘golden triangle’ of galleries includes the city’s most famous galleries: the iconic Museo Del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, and Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Each has a vast collection of Spanish and European art from the last five centuries. For modern art, the Thyssen houses an extensive collection and runs regular exhibitions, including a display by British artist Lucian Freud (until 18th June). Other must-see cultural sites include the beautiful Basílica de San Francisco El Grande, the Plaza Mayor central square, and Templo de Debod, a curious site with a 2,200-year-old Egyptian temple.

For an evening of culture, book tickets to a flamenco show. There are small venues dotted around the city but we recommend the flamenco room at Teatro Real which hosts weekly shows. If you want to see an opera or ballet there, advanced booking is essential.


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