Pioneering chefs, eye-popping boutiques, 21st-century design and innovation—and, yes, some of the finest tapas in Spain.
Lay of the Land
Argensola: Tucked between trendy Chueca and the upscale shopping district of Barrio de Salamanca, Calle Argensola is packed with independent boutiques and lively bars.
Barrio de las Letras: These narrow lanes were once home to literary lions such as Cervantes and Lope de Vega—today, you'll find galleries and vintage-furniture shops.
Chueca: This barrio is Madrid's gay epicenter and has no shortage of chic bars and restaurants.
La Latina: A foolproof plan for exploring La Latina includes a visit to the Sunday Rastro flea market followed by a tapas crawl along Calle Cava Baja.
Triball: Just north of Gran Vía, the former rough-around-the-edges Triball has transformed into Madrid's nightlife hub.
Taxis are reasonably priced and easy to hail. The Metro is expansive and connects the airport with the city center.
Related: T+L's Guide to Madrid
The city's most important newcomers. Plus, the classics we love.
New & Noteworthy
Urso Hotel & Spa: The sister hotel to Majorca's Hotel Cap Rocat has debuted in the rapidly gentrifying Tribunal area. Housed in a Neoclassical mansion, the interiors are a mix of old and new: bird-patterned wallpaper inspired by artwork from the 17th century, white Italian marble, and Midcentury Modern tables and ottomans. $$
Innside Madrid Suecia: A former Swedish cultural center, the Innside Madrid Suecia was closed for years before being revamped by the Spanish Meliá brand. Rooms are stylishly spare, with pinewood floors, crisp white bedding, and contemporary objets d'art—but it's the rooftop pool and terrace that won us over. $$
Posada del León de Oro: Enter the hotel's lobby and you'll find yourself in the middle of an old-Madrid-style tavern and bar, with check-in at a simple desk. Upstairs, the 17 slick rooms have glossy white walls and colorful lacquered panels. Bonus: the location, just steps from the Plaza Mayor and Royal Palace. $$
Only You Hotel & Lounge: This 70-room hotel in Chueca has quickly become a destination for locals, thanks to its buzzy bar and restaurant. Designed by Lázaro Rosa-Violán, the 19thcentury building is done up in blue and white hues and includes four top-floor attic duplexes with wood-beamed ceilings and skylights. $$
Related: T+L's Guide to Hotels in Madrid
AC Santo Mauro: Set in the former palace of the Duke of Santo Mauro in Chamberí, this grande dame has a spacious underground spa and one of the most beautiful gardens in town— an ideal spot for a pre-dinner aperitivo. $$$
Villa Magna: With a covetable address in Barrio de Salamanca near Paseo del Prado, the Villa Magna is known for its attentive staff and large penthouse suites, which come with terraces, grand pianos, and private butlers. It's no wonder the hotel is a favorite among visiting celebrities and heads of state. $$$$
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The best sources for stylish housewares, accessories, and more.
Aristocrazy: At this intimate jewelry shop, you'll find contemporary items such as chunky, sterling silver-plated chain-mail necklaces in 18-karat rose and yellow gold.
La Caja Negra: A go-to resource for interior designers, La Caja Negra sells graphic artwork by rising Iberian artists such as José Pedro Croft and Nico Munuera.
La Chinata: Known for its extra-virgin olive oil from northern Extremadura, La Chinata has recently branched out into gourmet nibbles—tapenades, pâtés, and marmalades.
El Ganso: This well-curated clothing shop was a pioneer of Spanish preppy style, including crisp cotton shifts for women, streamlined blazers for men, and canvas sneakers for all.
Federica & Co: Hidden in a tree-shaded courtyard in Barrio de Salamanca is Madrid's chicest micro-mall. There's antique china and vintage furniture on the top floor, while downstairs sells delicate knits and handembroidered pillows.
Related: T+L's Guide to Shopping in Madrid
Hakei: With looks that combine tailored basics—linen shorts and skirts and blousy T-shirts—and affordable shoes and bags, the homegrown Hakei is popular with the millennial set.
La Portegna: Portegna's leather totes and travel accessories are handcrafted by artisans in Andalusia. Best bet: briefcases in natural and auburn brown.
See + Do
Four essential stops across the city.
In Arganzuela, the city's early-20th-century former slaughterhouses have been transformed into Matadero Madrid, a contemporary art and design complex with experimental theater troupes and screening rooms, terrace cafés, and a farm-to-table restaurant. A highlight: this month's Desde Berlin, a musical about Lou Reed.
After an eight-year renovation, Spain's preeminent archaeological treasures, including the Iberian stone bust Dama de Elche, are once again open to the public at Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
A visit to the 16th-century Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, where cloistered nuns still walk around barefoot, provides a tranquil respite from central Madrid. Look for masterpieces by Titian, Hans de Beken, and Brueghel the Elder.
The top floor of El Corte Inglés department store, in Plaza de Callao, has become a vast food emporium and prime destination for edible souvenirs. There's La Maquina, serving traditional pintxos; Juanillo Club, known for its oysters; and Amorino for house-made organic chocolates.
The hottest tables right now.
Bosco de Lobos: Part of a transatlantic design partnership between restaurateurs Tomás Tarruella and Perico Cortés (their other restaurants include Luzía in Bogotá, Colombia, and Gallito in Barcelona), Bosco de Lobos is located in the newly restored College of Architects courtyard in Chueca. Blond-wood tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and polished concrete set the backdrop for dishes such as white pizza with porchetta, honey, and mustard. $$
Diverxo: Chef David Muñoz's inventive Spanish-Asian plates at Diverxo, in Chamartín, recently earned it three Michelin stars. The tasting menu takes three hours and each dish is served with a special utensil. Among the crowd-pleasers: chilled green coconut broth with cockles and beans, topped with roasted sardines, jalapeños, and pickled grapefruit. $$$$
Related: T+L's Guide to Restaurants in Madrid
Tweed: This white-and-gray dining room is a popular spot for Sunday lunch while museum-hopping. Order the gratin of traditional canelones Rossini under a blanket of béchamel and take in the view of Paseo de Recoletos. $$$
Taberna La Carmencita: In a restored 19th-century tavern with original ceramic tiling, Taberna La Carmencita is the first Madrid project by Carlos Zamora, chef-owner of Santander's acclaimed restaurants Deluz and El Machi. The menu incorporates fresh, organic ingredients for classics such as empanadas, albondigas, and chunks of chicken breast al ajillo. $$
Arzábal: When the city's top chefs are looking for traditional Spanish food without the fuss, they head to Arzábal. The black-and-white space with signature purple accents specializes in buttery ham croquettes, salmorejo, and truffled eggs. $$$
Bar Galleta: Carlos Moreno Fontaneda, of the Fontaneda cookie fortune, has opened his own restaurant. Locals come to the chic, whitewashed-brick restaurant for cookie-batter-fried chicken fingers with tzatziki sauce and desserts made con galleta: chocolate cake; tiramisu. $$$
Arriba: Chef Ramón Freixa's sophisticated new outpost in the Platea—a former cinema turned gourmet food market—is decorated with clubby leather banquettes and suede chairs. Freixa offers a fresh take on traditional Castilian and Catalan dishes such as the "alegría pa el cuerpo," a blood-sausage hot dog with avocado and corn flakes. $$$
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Four insiders reveal their favorite haunts.
Silvia Ortiz and Inés López-Quesada
Cofounders of Galería Travesía Cuatro
"New art exhibitions and design projects are popping up everywhere. We never miss the rotating shows at the contemporary Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, near Retiro Park. Down the street, La Casa Encendida showcases works by emerging talent such as Manuel Martín Cuenca and Bogi Jui and hosts great concerts. At night, head to Hat-bar (5 San Lorenzo; 34/91-391-1379; $$), in Chueca. It's got a buzzy scene and the cocktails never disappoint."
"Whenever I return home from a trip abroad, my first stop is either Mercado de Maravillas or Mercado de Chamartín. Food markets are a great way to reconnect with the city. For a memorable meal out, TriCiclo ($$$) serves a standout steak tartare, or try Viridiana ($$$), in Retiro, a classic that pioneered much of the creative cooking you find across Madrid; the veal-cheek red curry is delicious."
"With two kids and a busy business, my social life is about family, friends, and restaurants where I know the food and service are excellent. I love the Japanese food at Shikku Izakaya ($$$) and, for traditional Spanish dishes, Taberna Laredo ($$$), where the quality of the ingredients is exceptional. Order the anchovies with pan tumaca. My favorite shops: the Concrete Co. for bespoke jeans and Passage Privé, which sells offbeat 20th-century furniture."
Our picks for a perfect night out.
Related: T+L's Guide to Bars in Madrid
On Calle de la Reina, the 1921 Bar Cock stands out for its gentlemen's-club-like lounge (double-height ceilings; a stone fireplace) and innovative cocktails.
Just north, there's Bon Vivant & Co., with a hip young vibe and bar that serves killer pisco sours. Pair yours with a plate of chorizo or puréed patatas revolconas.
The new hangout for stylish Madrileños: Dray Martina, in Las Salesas. Book a table in the white-and-wood dining room and settle in for some great people-watching.