For many, Madrid often takes a backseat to the more fashionable, cosmopolitan and beachy city of Barcelona, so why suddenly all this brouhaha about Spain’s capital?
Reasons are plenty, but it can all be summed up with a question which has been known to ignite tempers: Is Madrid simply a large Spanish village (read: old-fashioned and provincial) or is it a true European capital (modern, hip, and efficient)? Regardless the opinion, it will be a passionate one.
But being both is what makes Madrid Madrid and therein lies its charm. As a European capital it boasts a fantastic infrastructure, grand hotels, a ready-for-business work ethic, and impressive conference spaces, while as a village, it allows a peek into a world often denied to outsiders; a traditional Spanish life.
Trips – whether they be for business or pleasure – are about experiences and Madrid promises experiences and adventures a plenty. Let’s take a look at our top five reasons why Madrid has it all for your next corporate event.
1. Food for Foodies
Spanish food is amazing. We all know that by now. The national cuisine and its representative chefs have been making a name for themselves everywhere from Bangkok to Baltimore.
The search for the real thing however can be a challenge. Authenticity is the word on everybody’s lips when trying to sample the tastes of a new culture, but it can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look. For a gourmet delight weave your way through the back streets of Madrid and you will come face to face with hundreds of years of tradition behind the national treasure that is Spanish cuisine. This is pure authenticity at your feet.
A tradition based on sharing provides the environment to mix, to mingle, to enjoy the company of others. Although you may find yourself with co-workers or acquaintances or bona fide strangers, the experience of sharing small plates of food will bring you back to your family gatherings in the kitchen or to an intimate dinner party with friends. Plain and simple, it’s about bonding.
2. Old World Europe
Wind your way past the souvenir shops in the center of the city to the ubiquitous squares or tiny byways and you will find authentic Madrid at every turn. This is the Europe of our great-grandparents. Before the wars took their toll and modernity came to the old world.
Artisans in Madrid flourish in their centuries-old trades that feed the city with tradition. From the seamstresses still making a classic cape, to the shoemaker fitting the feet of the flamenco dancer, to the guitar maker whose shop smells of recently carved wood tempting even the non-player to pick up one of these beloved instruments.
Although it may appear otherwise, this world is easily accessible with these craftsman eager to talk about their work. Planning a group tour for your team gives you and your participants a pass into these old-world customs to witness first-hand the crafts that many of us thought were long gone.
3. Art and Music for the Price of a Song
With classic painters to street art, Madrid has created a scene rivaling any big city while still keeping it approachable. There is nothing stuffy about art in Madrid and the city’s attitude toward exhibitions and galleries is truly one of “all are welcome”.
The museums are world class and finding an expert to guide you through these treasures will transport you to the past lives of this ever changing country -through its art.
If you’re looking for a more bohemian experience for your group, try checking out the happenings at the Casa Encendida for concerts, pop-up exhibitions, or film screenings – all of which can be accessed for the price of a latte. You’ll mix with artists, musicians, and creatives drawing you into their world of imagination.
4. City of Vibes
Jam-packed plazas, streets, and terraces make the vibe of Madrid enthralling. To experience the buzz you need simply step outside and you’ll be absorbed into the tangible joie-de-vivre the city promotes. Since most event attendees will judge much of its success on the location’s appeal and leisure opportunities, this town has you covered.
Bar hopping is not only encouraged, but expected in a town that prides itself on getting as much out of a night as possible. Follow the crowds as they sample the wine and beer in a variety of establishments munching away on tapas along the trail.
For a mellower, though no less energetic, evening a trip to a flamenco show will hook you in. You’ll witness both dancers and musicians so dedicated and caught up in their performance that you’ll be covered in goose bumps.
Tired out after a long day in the city? Then simply relax in one of the many open air terraces and enjoy that well-deserved gin and tonic before saying good night to the real city that never sleeps.
5. Inclusiveness to the Max
The Spanish are uncomfortable with silence. This much is true. Not in a loud, brash manner but rather in a way that makes sure everyone within earshot becomes included in the conversation. Everyone becomes an insider.
You must greet strangers with an all inclusive Hello or Good Morning when you enter an elevator or other public space and say good-bye when you depart. It takes some getting used to but it’s a lovely custom.
Madrileños will chat you up everywhere. No Spanish you say? No problemo. Many will instantly switch to English whereas others who have not mastered the Anglo-Saxon tongue will simply continue speaking away at you in Spanish. Language will never be a barrier in Madrid and you’ll find that soon you and your team have become involved in local life – even if you’re just passing through.