WHERE TO SHOP From the exclusive brands that line the Serrano street in the Salamanca district to the Chueca-based fashion brand Ecoalf, creating fashion pieces from recycled plastic (Queen Sofia is a fan), Madrid promises style at every turn. It is also where you can find those specialised boutiques lost long ago in many other cities. Casa de Diego has been around for more than

150 years and sells and repairs everything from canes and umbrellas to castanets, but it is most famous for its beautiful handmade fans, while family-run Casa Hernanz has been selling Spain’s iconic espadrille shoes since 1840. Spanish tailors have often been overlooked in

favour of their European counterparts, but they offer great detailing and extremely good value for money, with a tailored suit often starting from 1,800-2,500 euros (£1,600-£2,200). Try three of the leading tailors; Reillo Sastre, Langa and Manuel Calvo de Mora. Beyond its sartorial credentials, Madrid offers a


For more information on what’s happening in Madrid, visit esmadrid. com/en. British Airways ( offers several daily flights from London airports to Madrid from £34 each way. Double rooms at the Only You hotel (onlyyouhotels. com) from £170 per night, the Gran Hotel Inglés (granhotelingles. com) has doubles from £240 and Bless Hotel ( offers doubles from £220.

delightful mix of other speciality shops, from the wine emporium that is Lavinia – complete with its own gastro bar – to the olive oils of Patrimonio Olivarero and cheese specialist Queseria Cultivo.

DINING IN STYLE Madrid may be famed for its tapas bars, offering delicious jamon iberico and crispy croquetas, but its food scene has undergone a sea-change in recent years. You can still enjoy tapas dishes at traditional spots such as historic Bodega de la Ardosa and the bustling San Miguel market right by the Plaza Mayor, but you are also spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining. With 21 Michelin stars in total, Madrid attracts the nation’s

greatest chefs. David Muñoz’s DiverXO has three stars for its artistic menu and ambience, which he describes as similar to Cirque du Soleil, while Ramón Freixa’s self-named restaurant has two stars


and a tasting menu served in surroundings of pared-down elegance. Beyond Michelin-star style, there are so many wonderful eateries to choose from. Botin is in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest restaurant in the world, having opened in 1725 (and yes, Hemingway had his own table here), and Bodega de los Secretos serves contemporary cuisine to tables set in the alcoves of a 17th century wine cellar.

AN ARTISTIC HUB Madrid is known as an arts city, helped in no small part by centuries of Spanish royals and aristocrats buying works of art to decorate their many palaces. The grand Prado museum first featured works of art from royal collections and is now home to the Spanish masters Goya and Velázquez, as well as works from all over Europe. The Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, featuring 20th century masterpieces, and the eclectic Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza complete the city’s

spectacular artistic trio. But Madrid’s artistic pedigree runs deeper still. The Caixa

Forum hosts everything from contemporary art exhibitions to poetry readings and festivals, the Museo Sorolla is dedicated to the beautiful Mediterranean light painted by Joaquín Sorolla, and the elegant Real Academia de Bellas Artes is an impressive Old Masters gallery. Madrid is also an architectural delight, its wide boulevards

packed with Baroque grandeur (just take a stroll down Gran Via). The vast Plaza Mayor is lined with ochre-coloured buildings, the 18th century Palacio Real is well worth a visit and bullring Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas is still in use. Add in genteel El Retiro, the landscaped park and gardens in the centre of the city, and the huge Casa de Campo park just beyond the palace, and you can see why Madrid is considered such a liveable city.

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