Mini-series: Rute Vendeirinho takes you to her favourite girly destinations for a weekend, including insider tips and where to go for a girly weekend photo session! Next stop Madrid
Are you desperate for that perfect weekend away with your girlfriends? If so, prepare yourself, forget about the household, the mummy duties… and embrace some girly pampering for a few days. A hassle-free program is just what I promise you! And, please, give yourself a special treat and forget about the budget. Indulge yourself with everything you deserve!
A direct flight to take
Luxair offers a direct flight to Madrid at an average price of €200 (return ticket) and it’s an excellent choice if you want to fly on Friday late afternoon and return on Sunday night. So two full days and two nights of shopping, sightseeing, partying or just a lovely chat with the girls!
A lovely place to stay
Hotel One Shot Recoletos o4 is a unique design hotel in Madrid’s city centre. The nineteenth-century building is home to a little haven of contemporary design, with crisp white linens and thick duvets and pillows. As for the location, it couldn’t be better: Close to Plaza Cibeles and all the most important places of Madrid (Prado Museum, Retiro Park, Puerta de Alcalá, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum…). Average price per night (per person) is about €75.
Insider tip: If you go there during winter and you feel cold, just ask for an extra room key to leave in the room. This way the heating system won’t turn off, and your room will always be as warm as you wish.
Address: C/ Salustiano Olozaga 04, 28001 Madrid
The Principal Madrid is a brand new 5 star hotel on one of Madrid’s most lively and prestigious streets – Gran Via. The décor consists of an eclectic mix of furnishings, artworks and decorative features which somehow come together to form a harmonious whole. Average price per night (per person) is about €125.
Insider tip: The views from the peaceful roof terrace and even the bedrooms on the upper floors are some of the very best in Madrid. Top class bedroom amenities include a Nespresso coffee machine, free Wi-Fi, an enormous television with over 100 international channels and a cosy king-size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets.
Address: C/ Marques de Valdeiglesias 1 | Esq. Gran Via, 28004 Madrid
It’s Pamper Time!
Madrid means food, fashion and culture. So, depending on your mood, you just pick your ‘thing’!
If you choose the ‘golden triangle of art’ (Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofia Art Centre), then head on to the tube station of “Banco de España”. Go down the Paseo del Prado until you find the Museo Nacional del Prado on your left. On your way there, you’ll pass by the Thyssen-Bornemisza, but, trust me, you’ll want to start with Prado. The collection at Prado includes the works of El Greco, Velázquez (including “Las Meninas” or “The Family of Philip IV”, also known as “The Maids of Honour”), Goya, Zurbarán, Ribera, Murillo, El Bosco, and many others.
Insider tip: Entrance to the Prado Museum is free Mon – Sat 6pm – 8pm, and Sundays and holidays 5pm – 7pm.
Then, heading out to Paseo del Prado again, just cross the street and go up a few meters to enter the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Some of the artists featured are Cranach, Jan van Eyck, El Greco, Caravaggio, Holbein, Rubens, Raphael, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Picasso. This museum represents the perfect transition, a link between the classic works of the Prado Museum and the contemporary ones found in the Reina Sofia Art Centre.
Insider tip: Entrance to Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is free on Mondays 12am to 4pm (in case you extend your weekend for one well-deserved day!).
It’s now time for some fresh air and a relaxed walk along the Retiro Park. So, cross the street once again, and enter the park to walk down along the Paseo del Prado till the end corner of the park (close to the huge Atocha Train Station or “Estacion Atocha”). You may want to give a look inside this magnificent building, as you will find a unique train station with a beautiful interior garden.
Now, standing outside, opposite to Paseo del Prado, go to your right (Ronda de Atocha) and just two blocks after you’ll find the huge building that hosts the Reina Sofia Art Centre (entrance is at Calle de Santa Isabel, on your right). It features the works of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Juan Gris, and others. The greatest attraction is Picasso’s “Guernica”.
Insider tip: Entrance to Reina Sofia Art Centre is free on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 7pm – 9pm and on Sundays 1:30pm – 7pm.
Insider tip [only for art lovers]: For about €6 you can get the audio guide for your iPhone or iPad (bundle for the 3 museums).
If you choose fashion, then there are many options all over the city, but my favourite spots are Calle de Goya and Calle Fuencarral. Explore Calle de Goya and its surroundings for a unique feeling of luxury and top class shopping. Between the metro stations of “Serrano” and “Goya”, you can lose yourself for an entire afternoon.
Insider tip: Between Calle Serrano and Calle de Claudio Coelho, take a look inside the tiny (but so exclusive) shopping center “El Jardín de Serrano”. It’s definitely a nice place to stop for a coffee with the girls and get ready for the next pampering spot.
For a more trendy and casual shopping, then you should head on to Calle Fuencarral (metro station “Gran Vía”). It’s a pedestrian street full of all the latest trends and alternative brands with pretty much everything considered “cool”.
Insider tip: The (very) alternative Mercado de Fuencarral will definitely close its doors this summer, 2015. So, if you’re there before that, take one last look inside this once known must-stop for many European teenagers.
The Perfect pic
Tapas & Wine is the perfect combination for the perfect picture from a girly weekend in Madrid. So do book a Madrid Food Tour! It’s a guided cultural walking tour that gives you the opportunity to learn about Spanish cuisine and its history, and taste some of the best food Madrid has to offer. Meet the people behind the food; get to know the locals’ favourites and, best of all, get a real taste of it, with English guides. And get your picture!
Insider tip: The only complaint that you would probably have is to be too full by the end of the tour – not a big problem to have!
Food and wine, please!
El Rincon de Goya is a traditional restaurant and yet a very cool place to go. It is located in the nice Salamanca neighbourhood and serves a very good selection of tapas and other Spanish delicacies.
Insider tip: Book your table for dinner before 8:30pm. This way you will get a less crowded restaurant.
Address: C/ Lagasca 48, Madrid 28001
While the tourist guides might send you to the well-known Mercado de San Miguel, I will tell you a secret: Try the infinitely cooler Mercado de San Antón! It’s located in Chueca neighborhood and it has three floors, each with a great variety of tapas.
Insider tip: The rooftop bar and restaurant (“La cocina de San Antón”) has a very cool vibe and a glass of wine there costs the same as at any other bar on street level.
Address: C/ Augusto Figueroa 24, 28004 Madrid (nearest tube station: Chueca)
The coolest rooftop bar in Madrid is located on top of the Fine Arts Building (“Círculo de Bellas Artes”). Tartan Roof has the sky as its canvas atop of this fine arts institution, and it has the most breathtaking view of the city. A very popular place to go for cocktails, though it’s slightly expensive.
Insider tip: It is being renovated, but it will be ready for the new season by the beginning of April, 2015. You can also just go up and have a look at the roof for €3. However, if you make a reservation, the fee is waived.
Address: c/ Alcalá 42, 28014 Madrid (nearest tube station: Banco de España or Sevilla)
You know… because you’re worth it…
By Rute Vendeirinho, March 2015