Madrid is a city of constants and contrasts: the optimistic blue sky that greets you almost every morning of the year, the municipal workers crowding elbow to elbow with besuited lawyers at the counter of the corner coffee bar. Yet its charms are sometimes overlooked in favour of Barcelona’s beauty or San Sebastian’s headline-grabbing pintxos.

Dig beneath the surface of this big, bold city and there’s a head-spinning amount of things to explore: truly world-class art museums, designer boutiques and vintage treasure troves, markets packed with fresh seafood, and of course the city’s beloved terrazas – where people watching, cold beer or vermut in hand, is the order of the day. Spend 48 hours here and Madrid will get under your skin and keep you coming back for more. The city’s charms are spread out, so we explored in the new Range Rover Sport Autobiography plug-in hybrid.

STAY

RoomMate Alba

Barcelona may have Gaudi, but Madrid is the keeper of Spain’s literary roots – Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Hemingway all spent time in the city’s literary quarter, known as Las Letras. Stay in the heart of this buzzy neighbourhood at Room Mate Alba on Calle Huerta, just steps away from Plaza Santa Ana, where Heminway was often found nursing a drink at Cerveceria Alemana. The hotel is chic and cosy, with black and white tiled floors, wood panelling, and walls painted in jewel tones. There’s a gym if you’re feeling energetic, but breakfast is available til noon, so why not explore Madrid’s nightlife to the full and take advantage of a lie in the delightfully comfortable bed instead?

room-matehotels.com/en/alba

Edition Madrid

Edition MadridDavid Sheppard

New, scene-y, with a stunning rooftop pool and sexy Ibiza vibe, Edition Madrid is the latest success from superstar designer Ian Schrager’s collaboration with Marriot hotels. The decor is Balearic all the way, from the backlit headboard and inviting faux-fur rug thrown across the bed, to the eclectic beats, low lighting and soft linen textiles in the stylish lobby bar. Toiletries from LeLabo and hooded bathrobes as soft as an actual cloud top off the five-star experience in the rooms. The hotel has not one, but two restaurants helmed by world-class chefs – Mexican-inspired Jeronimo from powerhouse Enrique Olvera, and Oroya by Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz. After dinner, embrace the party vibe and challenge a fellow guest to a game of pool in the lobby bar – played on an Emmanuel Levet Stenne pool table sculpted from a single slab of white Bianco Neve matt marble of course.

editionhotels.com/madrid

SHOP

Daniel Chong

Daniel ChongTienda Moratin

For a souvenir that will give you serious cool factor back home, head to Daniel Chong to pick up a block-coloured backpack, a cult favourite with stylish Madrileños. Every bag is designed and made in Spain, using fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, preloved textiles and vegan leathers.

daniel-chong.com

Mantequerias Bravo

Owned and run by the Bravo family since 1931, Mantequeria Bravo in the upscale Salamanca neighbourhood is city-wide reference for everything delicious. Legs of the finest jamon iberico, wedges of tangy manchego cheese, small batch arbequina olive oil and thousands of bottles of wine compete for shelf space in this paradise for foodies. Pick up a selection of treats, then walk the short distance to el Retiro, Madrid’s beautifully grand central park, and enjoy a gourmet picnic under the trees.

mantequeriasbravo.com

Real Fabrica Española

Real Fabrica boasta a perfectly curated selection of the best and most stylish Spanish products, beautifully presented in a chic space in Las Letras. Leather moccasins from Mallorca, gorgeously soft merino wool throws, handpainted ceramics, perfumes… the list goes on. Make sure to leave room in your suitcase!

realfabrica.com

DRINK

Bar hopping in Lavapies

Bar hopping in LavapiesJenny Cahill-Jones

Once Madrid’s seediest barrio, but voted the coolest neighbourhood in the world by TimeOut a couple of years ago, Lavapies is Madrid’s multicultural heart, where Middle Eastern, African and Latin American cultures come together. The narrow streets feature murals by the likes of Bordalo II and D*Face, and are packed with independent shops and hipster bars alongside traditional Spanish tavernas. An afternoon spent bar hopping along Calle Embajadores and neighbouring streets is a great way to get to know this barrio. Taste natural wines by the class at La Canibal or take your spot along the zinc-topped bar at El Boqueron for gambas a la plancha accompanied by a glass of local vermouth.

lacanibal.com

DO

An art-filled stroll along Paseo del Prado

Madrid’s top art museums are all found along the stately, tree-lined Paseo del Prado. Most famous of course is the staggering Prado museum, but there are several other fantastic museums along the route. The Caixa Forum hosts diverse travelling exhibitions from around the world, including recently, a look at the world of tattoo artists and the fashion of Jean Paul Gaultier. And then there’s the Museo Thyssen, which houses the former private collection of the fabulously wealthy Thyssen family. Alongside the main collection, you’ll find fascinating temporary exhibits on subjects like surrealist artist Magritte. A forthcoming exhibit will look at little-known collaborations between Chanel and Picasso in the 1920s. The paseo del Prado ends at the Museo Reina Sophia where you should stop in to see Picasso’s monumental Guernica – an experience that leaves a lasting impression.

www.museothyssen.org/en

caixaforum.org/es/madrid

www.museoreinasofia.es/

www.museodelprado.es/en

EAT

Amazónico

 

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In the middle of Madrid’s moneyed Golden Mile’, restaurant Amazónico, from husband and wife team Sandro Silva y Marta Seco, is an assault on the senses in the best possible way. The smell of grilled meats hits you on the threshold as your eye takes in the OTT tropical-themed decor and the sounds of Latin-infused beats spill from the DJ booth. In the midst of this sensual fever dream comes the food, deliciously fresh carabinero prawn ceviche served in the shell, melt-in-the-mouth Argentinian steak and tropical cocktails infused with grilled pineapple and watermelon. With the restaurant packed every night of the week, plus a Japanese raw bar and underground jazz club, the Amazónico party is not going to end any time soon.

restauranteamazonico.com

Ferreteria

FerreteriaFerreteria

Housed in a former hardware store (Ferreteria in Spanish) on busy calle Atocha, it’s easy to miss this place at first glance. The walls are lined with the original 19th-century wooden drawers that once held the sundries that give Ferreteria its name. The effect is kooky and charming, but don’t be fooled, the food here is seriously good. Stay in the front room for drinks and tapas on the old shop counters, or head downstairs to the restaurant to try a modern take on classic Spanish cuisine with dishes like sealed pig’s ear in romesco sauce or sweet and tangy piquillo peppers.

ferreteriarestaurante.com

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