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Pocket guide to Madrid

Before you go

What to read in Madrid: The great American writer Ernest Hemingway had a long-running love affair with Spain. His novel The Sun Also Rises is about a group of friends travelling from Paris to Pamplona to see the fiesta and watch the bull fighting. It ends in Madrid, where the author describes a restaurant – Botin – as one of the best in the world. He wasn’t wrong, either. Officially the oldest restaurant in the world, its suckling pig is legendary.

Madrid 2006

What to watch about Madrid: Pedro Almodóvar, the celebrated Spanish filmmaker, honed his craft in Madrid, where many of his films are set. Renowned for perverse relationships and murderous plots, many of them have gained cult status both within Spain and internationally. “Julieta”, which came out in August, is also set in the Spanish capital.

What to listen to in Madrid: Formed in 2011, Hinds are part of Madrid’s burgeoning indie-rock scene. Their debut album, “Leave Me Alone”, came out this year to rave reviews and led to a slew a festival bookings and a worldwide tour. They’ll be in the UK later this year.

When you’re there

Night in Madrid, Plaza Mayor

What to eat in Madrid: Ask a Madrileños where to eat in their city and you’ll be given a hundred different answers. One of our favourites is the bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich) that are served at numerous cafés throughout the city – many near the palatial Plaza Mayor. Another great place to go is La Pescadería, which – in keeping with late-night eating habits – stays open until 2am.

Where to drink in Madrid: Café Central, in Plaza del Angel, is a great place to go for a drink and watch a bit of jazz until the small hours, while Corazon is a brilliant traditional pub to sit in and chat with friends until 3am. In the stifling summer heat, Madrileños head upwards – to the city’s numerous rooftop bars. We recommend the Tartan Roof Circulo de Bellas Artes, which offers spectacular 360-degree views of the city skyline.

Where to stay in Madrid: Vincci Vía 66 is a smart hotel that doesn’t hit your pocket too hard. It’s got a brilliant roof terrace, too, and boasts an excellent city-centre location. If you are looking for something a little more luxurious, Hotel Orfila and Hotel URSO both cater for well-heeled visitors.


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