A city break, or weekend away in Europe is the perfect solution to a busy working life- a quick recharge and change of culture will do wonders for the mind, body and soul. With this in mind, we decided to take a look at Madrid. It’s a city often overlooked in favour of Barcelona and other coastal resorts, but the Spanish capital is culture-rich, with some fine restaurants and a vibrant nightlife with a host of new bars, delis and cafes opening weekly.
Knowing little about the city, we did our research online. Our first port of call was the travel hub created by American Express and TripAdvisor. Basically, you can connect your American Express card to TripAdvisor to unlock a wealth of exclusive content and offers. On top of that, your reviews are tagged ‘Amex Traveller’ and you can filter reviews for a particular listing to see those from other Amex Travellers.
Myself and my girlfriend planned 3 days/2 nights in Madrid, with the aim of experiencing as much of the city as possible. Our main focus was naturally the fashionable shopping areas, some fine food and drink, cultural buildings and even a visit to Real Madrid.
The weather in Spain is particularly hot during the summer months, it’s much more pleasant in the spring and autumn. We visited at the beginning of November and found a pleasant 18oC and warm sunshine, perfect for enjoying an espresso outside of Cappuccino Madrid in the Plaza de la Indepencia. We flew into Barajas Airport, from which the city centre is just a short Madrid Metro or taxi ride away.
We booked a double room at Hotel Vincci Via 66, based on its central location; close to everywhere we needed to be, and were impressed with the reviews we found online. It’s a 4* with a focus on style, and a unique roof terrace- which is great place to relax and enjoy the vibe of the city.
Visit: There are plenty of excellent museums to take in: the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Fundación Mapfre. We wanted to take a look at Museo Lázaro Galdiano which houses the art collection of José Lázaro Galdiano and also used to be his primary residence. It contains his collection of incunabula and manuscripts and important works of from the prehistoric period to the nineteenth century, with a focus on Iberian work. It also happens to be a stunning Neo-Renaissance property.
Support: Perhaps something more for the gentleman amongst us, but my girlfriend also enjoyed it; was a trip to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid C. F. One of Europe’s most impressive venues to watch football at. Tickets are easily available via the clubs website, and with a capacity of over 80,000 people- the atmosphere is truly one to behold.
Shop: To counter-balance the football, and keep both parties happy- we took a short metro ride to Calle Serrano; Madrid’s most famous shopping street. It’s full of the finest fashion houses in the world, from Canali through to Hermés. You can also head one block east where shops are less brand name, and more boutique.
Eat: There are plenty of touristy options, but we opted to explore Madrid ourselves and spent plenty of time trawling through reviews before settling on Street XO- a Spanish/Japanese fusion restaurant located on the top floor of El Corte Inglés. The food in terms of creativity and quality is truly unique.
On the second night we tried out El Paraguas which was rated #1 on the American Express and TripAdvisor list of Hotspot restaurants for Madrid, and based in the popular Salamanca district. A little more regal than Street XO but the quality of everything was equally matched, a great place to sample some authentic Asturian cuisine.
Drink: You absolutely must go for a cocktail at 1862 Dry Bar on Calle Pez- probably the best cocktails we have tasted, hosted in a lounge style bar where host Alberto will instantly make you feel at home. One reviewer aptly summed up this bar with, “Home is Where the Bar Is”.
For something a little more lively, should you wish for it- head to the he multistory tavern El Viajero, or the Traveler both on Plaza Cebada… to mix in with the locals.
All-in-all it was a fantastic trip. For 36 hours with sun, shopping, great food and drink…and football, this epic Spanish city really does have everything you’d want in one place.
This post was sponsored by American Express.