Destinations

Reasons to visit Madrid in 2017

We run you through how to spend a day of eating, drinking and playing in the Spanish capital.

By Liam Aldous
Hola Coffee
Breakfast: Hola Coffee
Not long ago, the calibre of coffee in Madrid still bordered on insulting. A younger generation of baristas has turned the tide, though, and more than a dozen specialty cafés have opened recently. The newest, Hola Coffee in the Lavapiés district, elevates the art of espresso-making and is conveniently located on a street housing many private galleries. Run by Nolo Botana and Spain's reigning barista champion, Pablo Caballero, Hola's compact size means the breakfast menu is limited. Don't miss the layered toasts - smoked sheep's cheese, pear and walnut, and muscovado sugar, cinnamon and artisanal butter among them - prepared just behind the Marzocco.
Calle del Dr Fourquet 33, Madrid
Power lunch: Somos
On the second floor of the new Hotel Barceló Torre Madrid, Somos serves modern takes on traditional seafood dishes - artichokes stuffed with txangurro spider crab, wild turbot with citrus and caper sauce - against a surprisingly picturesque backdrop of streaming traffic on Gran Vía. The hotel, full of red, curvy furniture and zigzag mirrors, occupies the first nine floors of the landmark tower, once one of Europe's tallest buildings.
Plaza de España 18, Madrid
Sosmos
"Sharing is learning" is the slogan at this futuristic-looking butcher shop-restaurant in the Chamberí district, where every dish is a share plate. The menu is based on the availability of fresh produce and might include succulent "sirloin" tomatoes from Spain's northern Navarre region topped by toasted basil, or beef from the Chuletón Cenital flavoured with olive oil, rock salt and truffle paste. Chef Javier Bonet likes the theatre of cooking, so much of it is performed tableside. Arrive early to beat the crowds.
Calle de Ponzano 11, Madrid
Drinks: Casa Macaren
Tabernas and tascas have traditionally been the cornerstones of city life, and Madrileños treat these bars like an extension of their living rooms. New owners Sergio Ochoa, Julian Lara and Pepe Roch have breathed new life into Casa Macareno, founded in the 1920s. They've improved the food, respectfully revamped the interior while keeping its lovely old tiled tableaux, and focused on attentive, friendly service. Pull up a stool in the popular front bar, order a Yayo (Spanish vermouth and gin), or a tinto de verano (Spanish summer wine) and join the neighbourhood conversation.
Calle de San Vicente Ferrer 44, Madrid, +34 9 11 660 921
Tinned bonito salad with tomatoes and pickles at Sosmos
Opened last year by Spanish hotelier Pablo Carrington, the Tótem combines relaxed, pared-back décor with a sense of self-assuredness that has hitherto been lacking in Madrid's affluent Salamanca district. Surrounded by a labyrinth of high-end boutiques, the hotel has all the hallmarks of a great stay: affable staff, a restaurant that's popular with locals, and an even livelier lounge bar.
Calle de Hermosilla 23, Madrid
The lounge bar at Tótem Hotel
Coming soon: Machete by Navaja
Alex Álvarez, one of Madrid's most promising young chefs, has built a loyal following at his walk-in-only eatery Navaja for Peruvian-Galician fusion. He's currently working on a second dining room two doors away. Due to open soon, Machete by Navaja is set to be a more formal affair, taking reservations but still embodying the Malasana district's easy-going vibe.
Calle de Valverde 42, Madrid.
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  • Author: Liam Aldous