Last weekend, the bestie and i decided to do a little trip to Madrid seeing as we hadn’t done a holiday together since Hong Kong last year.
We found a new-build apartment on Booking.com and based in the district of La Latina. We were given a gorgeous studio which was the perfect size. It featured a double bed, sofa, dining table, full kitchen and separate bathroom and kitted out in the very lush, pastel stylish, IKEA chic!
Oh but ofcourse to our luck we realised that we were at a loss of a hairdryer, iron and a clothes rail in the wardrobe HAHA, so we had to use our imagination for some things, i’m sure you can all imagine how that went.
Arriving pretty late that evening we decided to grab some essentials for the apartment to make breakfast each morning from the local store.
Now if you’ve visited cities like Barcelona you’ll know how expensive it was out there. We walked out with two bags full of fresh food and drink for only €18! We saved so much money in the local Carefor (our equivalence to Tesco express) on food instead of spending that amount each day on breakfast in a cafe.
Always try and find the closest market or local store if you’re happy to make a quick scrabbled egg on toast for breakfast…. I mean think about it… More money for shopping!!
The first clear day we headed out to see some of the sights.
A little tip.. When you arrive in Madrid, at the airport, whether you catch a cab or the metro to your destination, buy a travelcard for the days that you’re in the city and again this will save you lots of money instead of using cabs and Ubers, train stops are close enough where your journey is still really quick and you’re not spending any money however far you go.
From the Mercado de San Miguel, to the grand palace and the Bear and the Strawberry tree, we then looked for the hidden gems of the city.
SAN GINES CHOCOLATIER
We found the oldest chocolatier to make churros in Europe. San Gines. It’s authentic, vintage style restaurant was still the same as you imagined it in 1894.
The pure warm chocolate came in a mug and saucer, the size i’d have my morning coffee in and beside it was 6 large fresh churros.. this helping is just for one person! So make sure you order one helping to share if you’re saving yourself for dinner HAHA.
CIRCULO DE BELLAS ARTES
After indulging in chocolate and dough, we headed to a rooftop bar as the sun started to appear.
I had heard about this place on a few websites but i don’t feel they gave it enough justice. On a weekday this bar is chilled, with music for ambience and has a beautiful skyline.
The cocktails are delicious, free-poured alcohol and mixed to perfection.
The bar staff are amazing, attentive and great fun. Try and grab a seat on the grassy chill out area which has a great view, its the moment on every holiday when you lay back, take in the view with your cocktail in head with everything moving around you and you say, “i’m lucky to be able to see this”.
Entrance to the bar is €4 and you can stay up there for as long as you like, if the weather isn’t holding up there are covered areas which still allow you to appreciate the view.
Try and get up to the rooftop before 2pm if you can as the queue starts to get larger and larger by this time, so to grab a good spot and enjoy the space without as many people up there with you then plan your afternoon around this.
MADRID NIGHT LIFE
Now we were only in Madrid from Sunday to Wednesday so we didn’t get experience a night out on the weekend here but we still searched for somewhere good to enjoy.
In London, when you don’t want to dress up but enjoy drinks and good music you’ll go to a bar and then see where the night takes you. A HUGE TIP… Don’t google “bars in Madrid” unless you want tapas restaurants haha. We soon realised that this is what the locals do in Madrid, eat late and enjoy food and wine throughout the night.
A bar will be considered as a disco or nightclub to them so just Google that and then find images to give you an idea of what you might be getting yourself into.
We found a small bar called La Enbabia in Calle Nùńez de Arce which is a 5 minute walk from the city centre Sol and where a lot of the bars and discos are.
A tiny bar, but probably one of the best and funniest nights I’ve had out in a long time. The promoters in Madrid aren’t like the ones in London, pushy and rude, they try and entice you to their bar with a smiling face and if you’re not interested they let you get on with your night.
Remember to always ask what they are offering when a promoter comes and asks you to come to their bar or club, this is exactly what we did, even though we had all intentions of going there in the first place (but they don’t need to know that HEHE).
We were offered a free shot and two cocktails for €12 to start including entry! Very far off the prices in other cities especially if you remember me saying that they free-pour here so you’re getting a good, strong cocktail for cheap.
The bartenders are great fun and make the best cocktails and don’t keep you waiting at all.
The dj played the best of old school music with a twist of new and commercial, so if you’re looking for a night of air grabbing and using your bottle as a microphone (which is exactly what we did) then this is the place for you to start your night.
After 4 more promotional cocktails each, and a lot drunker we were hoping to move onto a bigger club, La Enbabia treated us so well that we stayed for another hour! We decided to stay where we knew we were wanted and ended our night there having had the best fun.
For the people who need that take-away after too many drinks (ME) there is a McDonald’s close by back by Sol which is open until 4am so you’ll be sorted for the night.
After a filling home-made breakfast made by the bestie and lots of coffee to cure the small hangover, we headed out to spend a day to shop shop shop!
Zara fans out there?! Madrid is the place for you.
There is at least 5 different stores dotted around the centre of Madrid with 5 minute walking distance between all of them. Us having a shopping problem (which we fully admit too) went to all of them, as you know they all hold different things that you may not find in another so keep your eyes peeled girls.
We also travelled out to Nuevos Ministerios on the metro which is where the biggest Zara in Europe is! 4 huge floors of fashion. a girls dream, and because it wasn’t in the city, it was calm and quiet so we spent at least 2 hours trying on everything. I definitely don’t need to shop in Zara for a long time haha.
Back in the city centre near the metro station Callao, you’ll find NYX, Mango, H&M, Topshop, Zara, a few Spanish clothing stores and Primark! This store is probably the biggest Primark I’ve seen! London eat your heart out! The newest of clothes,every size available and a lot cheaper. So make sure you bring your spending money enough for a whole bag full from each store.
THE RADIO ROOFTOP BY HOTEL ME
The night we got back from shopping, we thought it would be nice to dress up a little and have a drink and see the cities skyline at night before we head to dinner.
The Radio rooftop was the perfect spot and added a little extra elegance to our trip. Again because it was a weekday, we were lucky enough to enjoy a drink in sectioned booth which is accessible even if it’s raining and was quite so we could really enjoy a moment to chat.
The drinks here are a little more expensive but just as tasty and also comes with light snacks like most of the restaurants and bars offer in Madrid with a drink order.
It’s located in the Plaza Santa Ana which is walking distance to the bars and other restaurants so is a great location.
This place is a great little get away from the busy streets down below on a weekday and apparently has a great vibe with great music on a weekend so try and get a chance to go up there.
NEW FAVOURITE RESTAURANT ALERT!
Now if you’re a big foodie like I am, I love finding the small, authentic places that serve food from the heart. One motto I always live by is…
“If it’s filled with locals eating there… It’s probably great”.
Hidden down a little street called Calle Amor de Dios, right next to Anton Martin metro station is a small Spanish restaurant called La Sanabresa.
Can you imagine two 6ft tall women in strappy heels and pleated skirts tottering down a cobbled street into a small, simple themed, family run restaurant with local families and couples having their dinner….. Yes, as we opened the door everyone stopped what they were doing, including the waiters as if we’d walking into the wrong place HAHA, however after the initial shock the waiters welcomed us with open arms and seated us.
Be prepared, they don’t speak very much English, which is why I’m starting to think I really need to learn Spanish, but when you see what you’re getting for the price we paid, we happily played sharades as best we could so that we could all understand!
You have a regular menu where you can choose individual meals for great prices, then you have three special menus, one for €10 euros, one for €11 euros and one for €18 euros. All specials included a three course meal, wine, beer or soft drink and bread!
We had a choice of at least 10 different starters, mains and deserts of each special to choose from ranging from roasted asparagus, fresh cod in tomato sauce, swordfish, spaghetti, roast chicken, full steaks for the more expensive special menu, homemade rice pudding and tirimasu.
Every meal we were given was superb! Each course came in perfect timing and even with the difficulty of the language barrier we still managed to have a laugh with the waiters who made us feel so welcome.
We loved this restaurant so much that we decided to come back for lunch before we left for the airport the next day!
By doing is realised how loved La Sanabresa is with the community.
We got there around 1pm in the afternoon and got a table even with it being packed full. We soon saw th queue that built up outside with locals trying to dine for lunch, so not only did we find an absolute gem that locals love but I would recommend it to anyone visiting Madrid, who loves a hearty meal and doesn’t care about decor (we weren’t there for an Instagram pic) but whether you go for lunch or dinner you will throughly enjoy, you’ve got to appreciate and show love to the local businesses with the best fresh food!
To finish our last night off, we found out about a new bar that have been driving the locals crazy! (In a good way) Salmon Guru… (I know, I made a face when I heard the name too HAHA) but knew it would be an experience we’d enjoy.
You walk in and are surrounded by bottles of old spirits from every country, from different years, almost giving you the feel that you’re about to walk into a mixology room.
From the outside, you would not expect the vibe that you walk into! It’s an amazing, quirky, bustling atmosphere with all different walks of life in there. The decor is creative with comic illustrations and neon lights, seats surrounding the bars to admire the bartenders cocktail creations and cool music throughout.
You’ll have a waiter come to your table to ask you what kind of drinks you like, sweet, strong? And they’ll recommend one from the menu.
We were both impressed, our cocktails tasted great and really expressed our personalities. We spent a couple hours just endulging in the aumbiance and it wasn’t too loud to chat.
A definite must for a chilled night out!
Ultimately, 3 nights is more than enough in Madrid unless you’re planning on travelling further out but we managed to fit in all the different aspects of this city.
From sightseeing, to shopping and lounging in rooftop bars with great skylines we had a great trip and short trips with your girls or boys can really break up a couple of months of hard work until your big summer holidays so try and pack them in with the fun little things that you enjoy… As you’ve probably noticed mine is food and cocktails!