We recently spent a long weekend in Madrid. It was my first time there. We stayed at 7 Islas Hotel, a chill hotel on a side street in a cool part of town. The common space is awesome, and so are the rooms. It was designed by Kikeller, which also has a showroom (and not-so-secret speakeasy) in the neighborhood. More about that, later. We left NYC on a Wednesday night and arrived in Madrid early on Thursday morning. The flight was only a little longer than getting to LA. from NY. The Madrid airport was super easy, as was ground transpo. We got to the hotel around 10 AM, dropped our bags and hit the ground running.
Thursday was our only rain-free day, so it is good that we didn’t waste any time. The city is very walkable, and there are rental scooters, bikes, and e-bikes available as well. Everyone eats late lunch, then takes a siesta in the early evening, and heads back out around 7 or 8. Dinner time is 9 or 10. The siesta is something that should be universally adopted in my opinion. Not only did it mitigate the jet lag, it also made it very easy to stay out until the early hours of the morning and still wake up with the sun. One more general observation before I get into the details; even though everyone there speaks pretty good English, the people in Madrid were very patient with my crappy Spanish. Instead of forcing me to speak English, they would coach me through, to make sure they understood what I was saying/asking. Here are a couple of notable spots that we wandered into-
Mercado de San Antón– It’s like a multilevel Chelsea Market, with a rooftop bar and art gallery. There aren’t a lot of non-hotel rooftop bars in Madrid (that we found, anyway). This one was okay. It was worth checking out, just for the local flavor.
La Austriaca— We had breakfast here twice (mostly because of proximity to hotel). It was super chill. No tourists. Excellent coffee and food.
Zombie Bar— This is one of the many spots that we wandered into on Calle de Pez. There were a ton of interesting bars and decent food on Calle de Pez. This spot stood out because of its decor. They had a bunch of throwback 80’s skate decks on the walls, together with Basquiat prints, and skate trucks as bar hooks. Great selection of drinks and interesting menu.
El Salton— Britt wrote this description– “drinks and tapas good not amazing but all locals and cheap.” I agree with her assessment.
Vaccaciones Bar— Chill vibe, nice decor. Lots of great cocktails and food. Definitely some tourists go here.
Macera— We had a consensus on this place for best cocktails in Madrid.
Cuatro de Ocho— I thought this place was cool. Here is what Britt had to say- “drinks nothing special don’t put on list.”
Ojala— This place has an awesome outdoor seating arrangement. The food, was so-so. But the ambiance was very interesting. The basement is definitely worth checking out.
La Colmada— We dipped into this place in the late afternoon just as it started pouring rain. It was already bumping before the downpour. No tourists. Totally unpretentious. Awesome prices. In Britt’s words- “best everything.” We had various types of tapas, and a few drinks each. The check was less than the price of two salads from Chop’t.
Stop Madrid— Awesome late night spot. Great selection of tapas. No tourists. Great value.
Bodega Ardosa— This place is super old school. It feels like going back in time, hanging out in this place. We were there late at night, but here it what the outside looks like during the day. There is a restaurant in the back that you have to duck under the bar to get to. No music here, just old school vibes and scores of locals.
Fabrica Maravillas— This place brews their own beer. We tried a few types, and they were all great. We walked by a few times, and it was always busy. It is a very communal atmosphere. At one point someone ate all of my olives and accidentally grabbed my beer. No harm, no foul (the olives were free).
Clarita— We went to this place around 11:30 PM, and it was bumping! We sat in the bar area. No one spoke English. But it was rowdy enough that everyone was just kind of pointing and doing hand gestures to order anyway. We loved the vibe and the food was excellent.
Kikeller— Last but not least, this is a design showroom with a late night speakeasy in the back/downstairs. Awesome cocktails. Awesomer space.