For those of you who have been following me on socials — the whole gambit of Snappers, Instagram, and now, Instagram stories — you'll know that I recently spent two weeks in Spain; making my way through the country on gelatos, granitas and guacamole. Belly full and face burnt, I've now returned with a tried-and-tested guide to the best that Barcelona and Madrid has to offer.
Consider this your cheat sheet of where to shop, eat and explore in Madrid — all in 24 hours.
10am: Start the day off with breakfast at Harina; the artisanal cafe serving freshly baked pastries and tarts located smack bang on Plaza de la Independencia, and just a stone's throw from El Retiro Park. Sit outside to enjoy the morning breeze and uninterrupted views of the Puerta de Alcalá monument. Try the hearty open sandwiches, and wash down your meal with a glass of homemade lemonade smashed with generous lashings of mint.
11.00am: Since you're already located next to the gardens, walk through El Retiro Park before it gets really hot and, let's be honest, before all the tourists hit it up after lunch. Definitely check out Palacio de Cristal (which currently serves as a gallery-cum-exhibition space), and for a slightly different perspective, hire a boat for a paddle on the lake.
1pm: It's time for a feed, but stay away from all the brasseries (and their extortionist prices) peppered along Calle de Alcalá leading back into the city centre. Instead, head north into the Recoletos neighbourhood for a healthy lunch with the locals in Magasand Cafe on Calle de Columela. Great mags, hearty sandwiches, and açai smoothies? Sold.
3pm: Okay, it's time to hit up the stores. But we're eschewing the big brands located along Calle de Serrano for unique boutique experiences. A short wallk from lunch is the amazing Delpozo flagship store (those intricate and structural dresses are TDF), and for the gents, the very dapper yet playful MAN 1924 multi-label store. After something more bohemian? Head west into the trendy Chueca district and you'll be spoilt for choice with concept stores like Do Designand food pit stops such as Mama Framboise.
5pm: Retail therapy sorted, it's time to get your culture fix. Madrid is famous for its golden triangle of art — The Prado, Thyssen and Rena Sofía museums are all located a short walk from each other. But if you just had to choose one, I'd recommend the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza which offers a guided tour examining the changing face of fashion as told through paintings. Loved it. Must do it again. And while you're in these neck of the woods, pop by Mistura to pick up some delicious ice cream to keep you cool as you gander around Parliament House — aka Palacio de las Cortes de España.
7.30pm: For dinner, make a booking at 2-Michelin star restaurant, Ramón Freixa — located under the swanky Hotel Único. A gastronomical adventure, prepare yourself for an experimental degustation featuring the region's freshest seasonal produce paired with wines from a cellar of over 450 labels. Instead of staying indoors for the entire night, head to the garden to finish off your dessert with tea and coffee.
9.30pm: For those visiting during summer, make full use of the long summer nights and catch golden hour from a scenic rooftop. Pro tip: Instead of falling into the tourist-trap of spending casholah just to visit the top of Círculo de Bellas Artes, do what the locals do and spend that hard-earned dollar on a cocktail at the The Principal Hotel instead. And the best thing? The rooftop at The Principal is just across the road from Círculo de Bellas Artes, so you can raise your glass to those suckers whilst enjoying the same views along Madrid's famous Gran Vía. Cheers!