Madrid the pleasure was all mine.
I was yearning to return to Madrid. I spent a lot of my childhood travelling to the vibrant capital of the Spanish kingdom. Its pulsating centre, art, shopping and above all its world class restaurants and tapas bars are the reasons I always want to go back. Over the years Madrid’s shaken off its somewhat conservative image and embraced the creativity, outlook and cosmopolitan energy of the Madrileños. Although Madrid’s centre is rapidly gentrifying, which in fairness it was in need of a spruce up, the locals stil,l live work and play in the city centre which makes any visitor really feel one with the city and its people. Oppose to other European capitals centres that have become devoid of local life.
As I get off the extremely punctual and avant garde AVE bullet train I immediately hail a cab and head to what is probably the best hotel I’ve stayed at in Europe the Hotel Villa Magna. Upon my arrival the ever so friendly staff at the hotel hand me my keys to my room. Calling it a Hotel “room” doesn’t really do justice to the size of my lodging for my weekend. The room is larger than my entire apartment in Chelsea. I open the window and a cascade of light shines in as I gaze over the view of the Castellana, Madrid’s main thoroughfare. I see the entire Madrid skyline from its art deco structures over in Gran Via to the glass steel skyscrapers that line the Castellana in the Chamberi district. I feel that I’m home already.
Its 2 pm and I’m invited to a lunch with some of my Madrid friends they are welcoming my return with a lunch at the recently opened Cinco jotas restaurant in Jorge Juan, my favourite street, Cinco Jotas is Spain’s most prestigious cured ham companies. A quick cab ride and I’m there… The food was sublime. I had a fantastic selection of tapas. The Huevos Rotos are a Madrid classic. It is simply Iberian Ham, potato chips and fried egg mashed up together its delightful. The best dish was the cinco jotas ham croquettes they were out of this world I had to order myself another portion. Words cannot justify how sublime it tasted. Id recommends a trip to Madrid just for this dish. My friend Carmen fish which was succulent and fresh too.
After a few glasses of Spanish Rioja I finally departed from my friends and took a gently stroll to my hotel. The restaurant is located in the capitals most chic district Barrio Salamanca. I love it here and spent so much of time here when I was a young teenager shopping on Ortega y Gasset, eating sushi at Isolee on Claudio Cuello Street or having a refreshing “colacao” with friends on Serrano Street at cafeteria Mallorca. This district has changed so much over the years. Serrano Street has transformed into a real shopping destination with many flagship openings such as the new Louis Vuitton, Versace or Gucci store. The new Balenciaga store on Claudio Cuello or Dsquared on Ortega Y Gasset is must go too. The hotel is ideal for shoppers it hugs the best stretches of Madrid’s Golden Mile with Ortega Y Gasset and Serrano adjacent to the Hotel. The New and revamped El Corte Ingles selling only women’s luxury collections has an exclusive entrance for the hotel.
With my new look from Loewe sorted I head back to the hotel. Upon my arrival to my room I discover a delectable tray of sweet delights. Naturally I tuck straight into them and have a relaxing bubble bath with the Aspreys shampoo my bathroom has. All freshened up I head off to my next adventure the Prado Museum. World renowned this Art institution is a must on anybody’s list. This year’s “Del Bosco” exhibition is truly inspiring.
For a petite aperitif I hang out with a close friend Nacho at Madrid’s most coveted spot for panoramic views and cocktails. The Principal 5 star hotel is the place to be Nacho tells me. The sunset over the Gran Via and Plaza de Cibeles is a prime instagram moment. We have a little peep into the Atico restaurants which I’ll have to try out another time. What I love about Madrid is that you can walk everywhere its compact, safe and so much to take in as you parade along.
Our dinner destination is the Habanera restaurant in Goya. This restaurant has attracted the cool crowd of the city. The young and glitterati come in droves to this tropical paradise to enjoy Cuban cuisine with an haute cuisine mix. The vibe is great and the mojitos even better!
The next morning I head for breakfast which at the Villa Magna is superb. The selection of fresh fruit, pastries and anything you could ever dream for are available to you. My favourite are the homemade carrot and ginger muffins I had to take a plate of them to my room to enjoy later.
The hotel offers a state of the art Gym but instead I head of to the Retiro Park for a run. I eventually take a break at the grotto overlooking the crystal palace and the lake filled with Kois, turtles and birch trees. It such a serene and tranquil sport… Before returning back to rainy London I head to Platea, on Goya Street, a former theatre converted into a foodie Mecca. I have a delicious Spanish tortilla and take a mango and passion fruit juice for the road.
As I sit in the plane London bound all I can think of is when I’ll be Back in Madrid and enjoying those incredible croquettes. Madrid the pleasure was all mine.