Madrid’s Luxury Hotel Scene Gets A Makeover With Four Seasons, W and Ritz Coming Soon

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Madrid is having a moment when it comes to hotels. In fact, Madrid is having a moment with tourism in general, boasting a record-breaking number of visitors over the past year. The Spanish capital is now on the same level as Rome, London or Paris and finally catching up to its more sophisticated sister to the north, Barcelona. After many years with a stagnant luxury hotel scene, with the Ritz Madrid and Marriott’s Westin Palace as the two most coveted luxury properties, that’s all changing. Hoteliers are realizing that now is the time to enter the Madrid luxury accommodation market, and will be doing so with gusto throughout 2020.

The movement started when the Hyatt Centric opened in 2017 on Madrid’s very own “5th Avenue” — Calle Gran Vía. Other luxury brands began to take notice, interest brewing among hotels like Park Hyatt, The Peninsula, Six Senses and the St. Regis (all rumored to still be searching for the right property location in Madrid).

Rooftop drinks at the new Hyatt Centric. © Lori Zaino.

The most anticipated new opening is the new Four Seasons Canalejas in 2019. Developers are hinting it could be the most luxurious property in Europe! Complete with interior design by Bamo, the hotel will offer 200 rooms, including an opulent presidential suite. The hotel will also feature a spa and a covered pool, as well as private residences for purchase in case you’d prefer to just stay forever (be prepared to put up over 13,000 euros per square meter, though).

Following the recent Marriott-Starwood merger, the group is now one of the largest and most powerful in the world, is opening a trendy W Hotel near the Puerta Del Sol in 2019. The 141-room property will include 20 suites as well as one Extreme WOW suite, which will surely offer epic views, plenty of space and other special amenities. Not to be left behind among Madrid’s budding rooftop scene, the W Madrid will have a rooftop terrace with swimming pool and bar.

Although the millennial-geared Aloft Hotels aren’t quite on the same level of luxury as the W, Starwood/Marriott has plans to open a branch on Calle Gran Vía in the coming years, steadily augmenting the brand’s presence in Madrid.

Not to be left behind, the antiquated Ritz Madrid, built in 1910, is undergoing a massive renovation to modernize its rooms and amenities. The almost-100 million euro renovation will renew the garden to include a pool and spa, and will raise the roof to include new, luxurious attic rooms — and of course, a Royal suite. The hotel is slated for reopening again in 2019.

The Ritz Madrid before the renovation. © Raúl Hernández González via Flickr.

The downside of the luxury hotel movement, though, is that the grandeur won’t come cheap. Rooms at the Four Seasons will start at 500 euros per night. Thanks to so many new openings, the hotel prices in Madrid may increase up to 50%, so be prepared. If you’re searching for good rates, it may be best to reserve soon. But if you’re hoping for a splurge, you’ll definitely have more to choose from come 2019.

Plan to pair your luxury hotel stay with an Insider’s Madrid tour, offering curated tours focused on art, museums, shopping, cuisine, wine, flamenco or all of these combined.

6 Reasons To Explore the Ancient Roman City of Mérida, Spain

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Spain’s Extremadura region is a hidden gem, relatively unknown to tourists. Often overlooked in favor of charming Andalusia or cosmopolitan Catalonia, Extremadura is the perfect place to have a real retreat, soaking in all the most wonderful parts of the Spanish (and ancient Roman) culture like traditional foods, unpretentious wines and immeasurable amount of history.
Aqueducto Los Milagros in Mérida. ©Esteban Viso via Flickr

It’s the Capital

All of Spain’s regions have a capital, and Mérida is the capital city of the region Extremadura. The city was founded as Augustus Emerita in 25 BC to resettle veteran emeriti soldiers from two and was named capital of the Iberian Roman province of Lusitania.

It’s Full of Roman Ruins

The city of Mérida has more Roman ruins than any other city in Spain, including the world’s longest surviving bridge, aptly named the Roman Bridge. At 790 meters long, it’s also the longest bridge ever built in Spain by the Romans. Besides this, you can check out the Roman theatre and amphitheater, the acclaimed National Museum of Roman Art, the Roman circus and more. There’s even a towering Roman aqueduct, the acueducto de los milagros, that dates back to the 1st century A.D.

The Roman Bridge in Mérida. © A stray sheep via Wikipedia.

And Moorish Ruins Too

The Romans weren’t the only ones to inhabit Mérida. Plan to visit the site of the Alcazaba, a Muslim fortress that dates back to the 9th century, later inhabited by the Christians when they took over the city. Make sure to take in the views from the walls, admiring the river Guadiana, the Roman Bridge and beyond.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site

We think Mérida is pretty epic, and UNESCO seems to agree. Mérida’s historic center has been deemed UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993, thanks to its eclectic collection of Roman, Spanish and Muslim sights.

You Can Still Enjoy Events at the Roman Theater

The Roman theater is still in use, meaning visitors can enjoy theater and concert events inside. While it’s often used for opera or classical concerts, some big-name acts have played there in the past. We’re pretty certain the acoustics are on point.

The Roman theater. © Tomás Fano via Flickr.

All. The. Delicious. Ham.

Mérida (in fact, all of Extremadura) is known for their delicious Iberian meats. A region where ham curation is practically an art form, Extremadura’s climate is especially ideal for growing acorns and oaks, which are what many of the prized pigs are fed. Two main categories of ham come from the Mérida area: Cebo de Campo ham, where pigs are fed with both acorn and grain, and the Ibérico de Bellota ham, where pigs are fed with acorns during their final period. This ham also has a longer curation period (typically about 36 months). Three areas around Mérida are famous for their ham: Serena, Montanchez and Llanos de Olivenza, meaning that if you love high-quality pork, you’ll be spoiled when visiting this region.

Interested in spending a day in Mérida?

Corazon Travel offers a trip here as part of their Insider’s Gourmet Tour. You’ll have the opportunity to sample “Gladiator” wine at the Viña Santa Marina and explore the ancient Roman ruins of Mérida. After visiting the Roman bridge and touring the Roman theater and the amphitheater, you can enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee followed by a guided tour through the National Museum of Roman Art developed by architect Rafael Moneo.

The Perfect Packing List For Visiting Madrid, Spain

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When packing for a trip to the Spanish capital, organizing your suitcase is important. You don’t want to pack too much, too little or forget any of the key items listed below. Packing right will help you blend in seamlessly with the locals and not look like a tourist. Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t forget to put in your suitcase when visiting Madrid.

Learn how to pack right for the Spanish capital. © Madrid Destino y Cultura

Sunglasses (and an Umbrella)

Madrid sees 300 days of sunshine a year, and the blue skies are usually bright and cheerful. The sun is strong, even in winter, so bring along a pair of shades to protect your eyes. While it doesn’t rain often in Madrid , having an umbrella in case the weather changes is key – walking in the rain in Madrid without one is no fun.

Cash

Cash is king in Madrid. While most hotels, restaurants and shops do take credit cards, if you’re sitting at an outdoor terrace sipping a 2 euro glass of wine, using your card for such a low amount may not always be an option. Most restaurants and bars have minimums (usually hovering around 12 euro). While this may not be a problem in other cities or countries, drinks and tapas are often so reasonably priced in Madrid that you may not always meet the minimum. Not all taxi drivers have their card terminals working and occasionally visitors complain that the metro machines reject foreign cards. Waiters at some of the older restaurants may huff and puff when it comes to splitting the bill on several cards. So pack some euros, or simply take them out of the ATM upon arrival.

Don’t forget to have some cash on you. © Reynermedia via Flickr.

Comfortable Shoes

Madrid is a walking city. Flip flops and stiletto heels are not ideal, especially when walking on cobblestone streets or rushing down the stairwell to catch the metro. Instead, you’ll find locals wearing trendy gym shoes, wedged espadrilles and cute, flat sandals or oxfords. Cooler temps bring ankle and knee high boots, usually flat, with a solid sole. Once you’ve lapped the city, you’ll thank us for this expert packing tip.

A Scarf

Besides being a fashion statement, a scarf is the perfect accessory – and one that the locals use too. It can double as a shawl or beach cover up or keep your neck and shoulders toasty. Weather in Madrid can drop and rise dramatically when the sun comes or goes, so having an extra layer in the city is essential. A scarf can even double as a picnic blanket if you want to lounge on the green grass at the Retiro Park and partake in a quick afternoon siesta.

Jazz up an outfit with a colorful scarf.

An Adaptor

Remember, Spain uses EU plugs, so bring an adaptor if you’re coming from countries the UK or USA. While larger hotels will have them for loan, smaller spots or Airbnb rentals won’t, and with the number of electronics we travel with these days, you’ll be glad you remembered to stow this item in your suitcase

Cute Day-to-Night Outfits

Madrileños don’t wear sweats and leggings outside of their home or the gym. You’ll notice that locals put a good amount of effort into their appearance, so leave your old jogging pants at home and instead bring along jeans, trousers, dresses and tops that can be worn to wander the city by day and look elegant at night.

If you happen to forget any of the above key items, consider taking an Insider’s Madrid shopping tour to pick up these missing items — and more!

Visit These 7 Beautiful Beaches in Spain

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Summer brings the heat to Spain, and the best way to cool off and refresh is to do as the Spanish do: escape to the beach! With miles of coastline surrounding the country on both the Mediterranean and Atlantic sides, the sand and sun options are endless, but we’ve narrowed it down so you don’t have to. Here are some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain.

Playa del Silencio

As its name suggests, you can expect to get some serious peace and quiet and this beach. Backed by large cliffs, the silvery sand runs into the emerald waters seamlessly, though thanks to underwater rocks, it’s not the best cove for swimming. But it is perfect for strolling, relaxing and soaking in the sun. Expect ultimate tranquility here — there are no bars, restaurants or even bathrooms at this secluded spot.

Playa del Silencio © Jaime González via Flickr

Playa de Treumal

Just about an hour north of Barcelona sits the Cala Treumal, a small cove with golden sands and turquoise waters. Part of the protected area of Pinya de Rosa, you can spend the morning exploring the stunning cactus botanical gardens there,  and then spend the afternoon on the beach. Although the beach is just a few minutes away from the town of Blanes, it seems to be part of a quiet underworld, hidden away by pine trees, rocks and stones scattered along the sand.

Cala Treumal © Albert Torelló via Flickr

Playa de Las Catedrales

This beach was made for adventurists, as the stunning stretch of sand and rocks has formed arches and caves that can be explored during low tide. Just be prepared for cooler waters and temps. The beach, which is located in the Lugo region of Galicia, sits on the shore of the Cantabrian Sea, which is chillier and rougher than the Mediterranean. Often called Playa de Aguas Santas/Beach of the Holy Waters, you may feel a bit ethereal after bathing in these salty waters. And the spiritual fun doesn’t stop at the beach: a stop here can be combined with Corazón Travel’s guided Camino de Santiago Tour, which takes you through the unique and diverse landscapes of Northwestern Spain.

Playa de las Catedrales © Oswaldo Rubio via Flickr

Playa de Carabeillo

Located in Malaga’s Nerja region, you’ll face a steep descent of about 117 steps to reach the beach, but we promise it’s worth it!  Although the sand here is dark and coarse instead of fine and white, Carabeillo beach is still postcard perfect, thanks to its giant rocks sheltering the sands and the bold blue waters. Although there aren’t many amenities here, you can walk to the nearby Burriana Beach for restaurants, bars and bathrooms.

Playa de Carabeillo © micah craig via Flickr

Playa Bolonia

Close to Cádiz and Tarifa, this Andalusian beach haven is considered a windsurfing paradise thanks to its breeze — called levante –that blow through the cove. While many Spanish beaches are flanked by high-rises and bustling urban hotspots, Bolonia beach has managed to retain its tranquil charm, encased in a natural park called Estrecho. Home to one of the largest dune systems in Europe, the soft white sands seem to stretch on forever.

Playa Bolonia © Torpe via Flickr

Playa de La Garrofera

Located in the La Albufera nature reserve, this beach features dunes up to 1500 meters high. It’s unique protected location is special for another reason: the beach has the Mediterranean waves lapping on one side, but when you tire of the the salty sea, the tranquil Albufera lake sits on the other side. Here, you can rent boats, hike or bike around the lake and surrounding greenery. If you sign up for the guided Valencia Tour with Corazón Travel this September, you’ll be able to enjoy a boat ride on the Albufera lake, in addition to wine tastings, cultural visits and more.

Albufera Lake near Garrofera beach © David Talens via Flickr

Playa de Ses Illetes

Frequently topping lists for the best beaches in the world, you’ll have to fly to Ibiza and then take a boat to the tiny island of Formentera to reach this gem. You may actually think you’re in the Caribbean, as the beach has that fine white sand and crystal clear water you might find in Cuba or Antigua. Many have even deemed this beach the ‘Spanish Caribbean.’ It’s best to visit in the shoulder seasons like May, June, September or October when the weather is still pleasant, but the crowds have subsided.

Playa de Ses Iletes © Vriullop via Wikipedia

7 Spots For A Romantic Honeymoon In Spain

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Spain is one of the most romantic countries in the world for a honeymoon. Imagine intimate dinners by candlelight, passionate flamenco dancing and long riverside strolls at dusk with your one and only. But with so many magical cities to visit, where do you even start? Read on to discover to some of the most idyllic spots to celebrate your post-nuptials.

Seville

With a thriving tapas culture and the blissful gardens of the Alcazar palace, Seville is definitely one of the sexiest cities in Spain. In fact, the whole southern region of Andalusia is sultry and inviting, and you can’t go wrong with an intimate evening ride in a horse-drawn carriage or a walk through the magnificent Plaza de España at sunset. Exploring a nearby white village such as Arcos de la Frontera is a perfectly picturesque day trip.

Plaza España in Seville. © Lori Zaino.

Menorca

Once of Spain’s hidden gems, the tranquil island of Menorca is a serene beach getaway perfect for couples wanting to get away from it all. Rent a car and explore the island, discovering rocky coves and beautiful sandy spots — you may just find yourselves completely alone to relax in the sunshine. Evening walks through the port and past the old British houses of Máhon are a peaceful way to unwind, and this island is truly a place for you to bond with your new love.

Cala Galdana in Menora. © Ben Salter / Wikipedia.

Madrid

Such a large city may seem imposing for a honeymoon, but with a growing number of boutique hotels as well as 5-star luxury properties, you can bask in the very best in Spain’s capital when it comes to accommodation. With day trips to nearby charming villages like Segovia and Toledo, getting out of the city is just a hop, skip and jump away. Madrid has endless cultural adventures, and the city is full of eclectic art, live music and dance, gourmet restaurants, cozy bars and boutique shopping.Remember, Insider’s Madrid can always help you to book tours — we’ll curate the perfect food, shopping, art or fashion tour with newlyweds in mind!

Plaza de la Villa in Madrid. © Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio.

Granada

The Arabic influence on this southern Spanish city creates a special ambiance perfect for couples. Enjoy panoramic views of Granada, the Alhambra Palace and beyond as you and your honey take in a sunset at the Mirador San Nicolás, the city’s most coveted viewpoint. Once the sun sets, there’s nothing more romantic than soaking in that post-wedding bliss by admiring gypsy flamenco deep in a mountainside cave while sipping on sangria.

Granada and beyond. © Lori Zaino.

La Rioja

Close your eyes and picture you and your partner sipping red wine paired with savory Iberian ham and exquisite cheese, all to the backdrop of medieval villages and rolling vineyards. If this sounds like a dream, head to the Rioja region of Spain, one of the most popular areas in Spain for wine tasting. The charming towns of Logroño and Haro can be explored by two on foot after a delightful day of tasting and touring the nearby vineyards and villages.

A small town in the Rioja region of Spain. © cenobio / Wikipedia.

Marbella

Beach-loving couples looking for a sophisticated, glamorous honeymoon should head to Marbella. Spend your days frolicking with your plus one on long streches of sandy beaches lined with palm trees or unwinding at one of the many spas. Once the sun sets, treat yourselves to elegant dinners and cocktails at fashionable beach bars.

Port Banús in Marbella. © Tomas Faro / Wikipedia.

San Sebastián

Foodie couples should immediately head to San Sebastián, famous for its incredible eats, including a number of Michelin-star restaurants. But going beyond the fancier food scene, you’ll discover a whole other layer of dining — pinchos — which is really a way of life. These small tapas, often ‘pinched’ with a stick, can be found at most bars and restaurants, so grab your partner and start sampling. If you’re too full to do anything else, walk hand-in-hand along the city’s most famous beach, La Concha.

La Concha beach in San Sebastián. © Keta / Wikipedia.

6 Plans Perfect For Your Bachelorette Party in Madrid

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Wedding season has officially arrived! Before you and your partner tie the knot, you should plan to have a bit of fun first. With so many other wedding decisions on your plate, don’t overcomplicate things and instead choose a destination you and your entire gal group will love for the ultimate bachelorette party send-off into married life. Regardless of what you may have imagined for this quintessential ladies getaway, Madrid has it all. Whether it be high-end fashion and shopping, craft cocktails, gourmet cuisine or a nightlife scene that rivals Las Vegas or Ibiza, Madrid is a dream spot for your hen party.

Design by Isabel Zapardiéz

 

Soak in the sun

Nothing ruins a girl’s getaway like rain. But Madrid’s 300 days of sunshine per year will ensure you’ll not only have clear skies, but you may even bronze those shoulders as you stroll the streets of the Spanish capital city beneath the rays. Spending time outside sets the scene for serious bonding with the girls, so consider hosting a picnic or doing a relaxing yoga class in the park. After all, not every bachelorette party activity needs to be wild — simply enjoying time outdoors with friends is the best.

 

Hit the shops

Shopping with the girls is the perfect way to prepare for your upcoming nuptials and there’s plenty of boutiques in Madrid where you can discover one-of-a-kind items. Whether it’s leather shoes, vintage shops, wedding lingerie or bridesmaids dresses, you’ll be sure to find the ideal garment(s) here. If you aren’t quite sure where to go, Insider’s Madrid (authors of the style section for the Louis Vuitton Madrid guide!) curates customized fashion and shopping tours — meaning we’ll plan you a flawless shopping day, from stopping into the boutiques of Chueca, Alonso Martínez, and Serrano to visiting the workshops and the independent stores of Spain’s designers and curators, all based on the bride’s preferences. If you’d prefer to include wedding dress shopping into your itinerary, we can arrange that too.

¡Ole! Time to Dance

If you imagined attending a flamenco show surrounded by your closest friends or even taking a dance class itself, Insider’s Madrid can make it happen. Flamenco Uncovered is a unique tour where you’ll get to actually get to spend the evening with a flamenco dancer and learn a full flamenco choreography during a personalized dance class. We even offer discounts for groups over two people! Whether you see the art, learn about it or even begin to dance it yourself, flamenco will make your bachelorette celebration a special one.

Drinks High Above

Madrid is budding with rooftop bars where you can enjoy cocktail after cocktail with the ladies. The views of Madrid, speckled with red-tiled rooftops sitting beneath the blue sky, will seem even more impressive as you sip a crisp glass of cava or a refreshing mojito. Make sure to reserve ahead of time for your group to ensure you get the best spot in the house.

Photo by Lori Zaino

Night Out on The Town

If you want to swing traditional for your bachelorette party with a (wild) night out on the town, Insider’s Madrid will curate every detail for you — we can plan cocktail workshops where you meet Madrid’s most fashionable mixologists, an upmarket tapas tour or whatever style of evening you desire. You can’t go wrong with one of Insider’s Madrid’s food tours — the Spanish wine tasting is a wonderful way for you and your girls to chat over Riojas and Riberas.

See Spain Beyond Madrid

For an extra exclusive fashionista hen party, why not get out of Madrid and see all of Spain, eating, drinking and exploring the history of fashion along the way. The fall edition of the Fashion, Food and Textiles Tour hosted by Corazón Travel will be an unforgettable experience — one that includes an insider visit to meet Nacho Aguayo, creative director of Spanish fashion house Pedro del Hierro in Madrid, a almazuelas patchwork workshop with former Givenchy model Lola Barasoian at her converted water mill and meeting couture designer Isabel Zapardiéz in her San Sebastian atelier for your own personal design !

Design by Isabel Zapardiéz

If you’d rather focus on dining and drinking instead, Corazón Travel’s Insider Gourmet Tour offers your group the chance to indulge in some of the best tapas, wine, sherry and more throughout central and southern Spain. The fall event includes meeting winemakers, dining at Michelin-star restaurants, Iberian ham tastings and so much more.

San Sebastián under sunny skies

Teambuilding in Madrid: Why the Spanish Capital is Ideal to Bring Your Team Together

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When coordinating a 300-person event with employees coming from over forty different countries around the world, it’s crucial to choose a destination that can accommodate my team in terms of direct flights and meeting spaces. A beautiful and vibrant city like Madrid filled with sunshine, delicious food and culture is an important plus too,” explains Sandra Bucher, Event Manager of Endress & Hauser.

The Plaza Mayor. © Sebastian Dubiel / Wikipedia.

Thinking about hosting a corporate event in Madrid? The Spanish capital is actually the third most popular city for conference tourism thanks to its modern and clean transport network, rich cultural offerings and the fact that the city is safe and becoming  more and more eco-friendly every day. Here’s all the reasons why you should consider Madrid, Spain for your next corporate event, retreat or conference.

Madrid has a warm and welcoming energy

Locals welcome you with open arms in Madrid, excited to share their magnificent culture with you, so embrace it! Although the Spanish capital may not be as famous as its sister city Barcelona, the city retains an authentic Spanish charm that’s truly difficult to find elsewhere. With city-dwellers of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors, Madrid has the best of both worlds: the charming ambiance of a small, Spanish village and the energy of a bustling cosmopolitan city.

Plaza de la Villa © Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio.

The city is well-connected to Europe, Asia, Africa and America

Direct flights are offered from 174 different destinations to Madrid, making arrival a relatively easy feat. The high speed train system also runs from Madrid to 30 different destinations. Once in Madrid, the airport is a short hop away from the city center, accessible by taxi, train, bus or metro.

Bright lights along Madrid’s Gran Vía street. © Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio.

The transportation system is modern, clean and easy to use

Getting from A to B, even if you have a large group, is easy and cost-effective in Madrid. The metro system is expansive, clean and user-friendly, and hundreds of bus stops also ensure you and your team will get where you need to go hassle-free.

The metro is easy to use. © Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio

It’s your home away from home

With expansive restaurant and cultural options and over 42,000 hotel rooms, you’re sure to find your favorite snack or the ideal place to lay your head to rest. You won’t need to leave all the comforts at home when visiting Madrid as the city can offer anything and everything you need. You’ll never be bored in Madrid — it has 53 theaters, 87 art galleries and 71 museums.

The Plaza De Toros. © Carlos Vacas Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio

Madrid is green, safe and sunny

The city happens to be one of the safest capitals in Europe — and also the sunniest! You can count on over 300 days of sunshine per year. Madrid also takes second place in the world for green spaces, with over 225,000 trees and 18m2 of green space per inhabitant. Make sure to take your team to the Casa de Campo park, which is four times the size of New York’s Central Park.

Madrid has plenty of green space. © Madrid Destino Cultura, Turismo y Negocio.

It’s (literally) the best!

Of course, we may be biased as we love our city of Madrid, but if you don’t believe us, check out the facts:

  • Madrid is the number one city for business tourism in Europe
  • Madrid has been nominated as the best European destination for MICE tourism in the World Travel Awards
  • The city hosted over 2,500 conferences and over 7,000 corporate events last year
The Royal Palace at night. © Agustín Martínez Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio.

Insider’s Madrid and Corazon Travel can help you organize and coordinate your company event, meeting or conference in Madrid, making sure you have an safe, comfortable stay and enjoy all the best that Madrid has to offer — culture, food and more. Contact us for more information. 

Best Spots for a Rooftop Cocktail in Madrid

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The sun is shining in Madrid and that means one thing: terraza season! This special time of year refers to the moment when the outdoor terraces, patios, courtyards and rooftops of Madrid open up for business. Locals and tourists alike flock to these spots to indulge in beer, wine or cocktails al fresco. Rooftop bars are an especially exciting way to experience Madrid’s terraza season, offering incredible views and delicious drinks from up above. Here are our top picks:

La Azotea del Círculo de Bellas Artes

With 360° panoramic views of Madrid and beyond, this rooftop is one of the best spots in the Spanish capital to have a drink and take in some seriously awe-inspiring views. Lounge on the relaxing beds with cava on chilled ice or enjoy lunch with views of the Sierras. This is the ideal place for admiring the Retiro park and the famous Atocha train station to the Plaza Mayor. You can also peek over the edge to watch the world go by on the famous Calle de Gran Vía. Although visibility is great at any time of day, sunset makes for a stunning experience. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the Minerva sculpture by Juan Luis Vassallo, the Roman goddess of art.

Cost: Entrance is four euros, but contact for table reservations.

Madrid’s Gran Vía from the Círculo de Bella Artes. Photo by Lori Zaino

Mirador del Palacio Cibeles

This outdoor terrace overlooks the busy Cibeles traffic circle, the Bank of Spain and beyond. A chic place for a rooftop cocktail, the Mirador actually isn’t on the top roof itself, but a little side terrace on the sixth floor. Still, the views are fantastic and the drinks are flowing! Note that this bar doesn’t open until 1:00 pm daily.

Cost: Entrance is two euro. If you dine at the restaurant, it’s free to go up.

El Cielo de Alcalá Rooftop Bar

This is one of Madrid’s newer rooftops, part of the Hotel H10 Puerta de Alcalá.  You can often snag a table without a wait because many people don’t know about this hidden gem. The perfect spot to pop a bottle of icy-cold cava,  you can admire the sunset over the treetops of the Retiro Park and the nearby Casa Árabe. If you are a guest at the hotel, you can dip into the small but refreshing pool or lay out in the lounge chairs.

Cost: Free to enter, but you must pay to drink or dine.

A sunset view from the H10 Puerta de Alcalá El Cielo Rooftop Bar. Photo by Lori Zaino

The Hat Rooftop

Perched atop one of Madrid’s trendiest hostels, The Hat is a hipster space that’s coveted for its intimate vibe. You’ll feel as if you’re at a neighborhood barbecue in Brooklyn — except your actually on a roof  in Spain. With charming tables for two and lights strung up around the space, you can order cocktails that come in a bag and rounds of beers. The views aren’t expansive, but they do overlook the red rooftops of the city, adding to the already quaint ambiance of this outdoor terrace.

Cost: Free to enter, but you must pay to drink or dine.

SkyBar at the Axel

The Axel Madrid is aimed towards gay travellers but the space is most certainly ‘hetero-friendly.’  The rooftop SkyBar, which features a long, sleek pool, is particularly enjoyable  — think views for days, ambient music and spacious, comfortable seating. Plus, quirky details like neon signs and funky tiling make the space fun and inviting.

Cost: Free to enter, but you must pay to drink or dine.

Madrid’s rooftops from the SkyBar at the Axel Hotel. Photo by Lori Zaino

Radio Rooftop Bar

The Radio Bar at the Hotel ME Madrid Reina Victoria is one of the largest rooftop bars on this list. Recently renovated, the space overlooks the busy Plaza Santa Ana and is complete with cabanas, table seating and various sofas and spaces to dance. The spot prides itself on being ‘exclusive,’ and you can count on waiting in line to get in, especially on a Friday or Saturday evening. However, once you make it up, the glamorous scene is worth it!

Cost: Free to enter, but you must pay to drink or dine.

Nice To Meet You Sky Lounge

The Sky Lounge at the Dear Hotel is one of Madrid’s tallest rooftops. The almost vertigo-inducing space on the 14th floor of the hotel offers breathtaking views of the Royal Palace, Calle de Gran Vía and Plaza de España. A small plunge pool is available for hotel guests to dip into while enjoying the views. Dusk and evening times on weekends are best for visiting this bar to hear DJ sets — but dress to impress as the crowd is usually pretty sophisticated.

Cost: Free to enter, but you must pay to drink or dine.

Gran Vía at night from the Sky Lounge at the Dear Hotel. Photo by Lori Zaino

8 Epic Sights and Monuments You Can’t Miss in Madrid

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Madrid is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. With an expansive art realm and a mouthwatering food and wine scene, you may forget that Madrid is also full architectural wonders: neoclassical palaces, charming fountains and unique green spaces. In fact, Madrid happens to have 2,294 monuments — so you better start now if you want to see them all! If the thought seems too overwhelming, though, we’ve narrowed it down for you. Here are some of the most epic sights and monuments you just can’t miss in Madrid, Spain — and if you can’t fathom exploring them all on your own, Insider’s Madrid can give you a curated private tour.

Palacio de Cristal

Madrid’s most famous park, El Parque de Buen Retiro, is already a must-see when visiting Madrid. Inside the park’s iron gates, the Crystal Palace awaits, nestled upon a small lake shared by ducks, turtles and other flora and fauna. A structure created almost entirely of glass, there’s nothing like seeing the sun streaming in through the glass windows and looking up to the green treetops hovering over the clear rooftop. If you’re lucky, you may catch a temporary art exhibit inside the palace, fulfilling both the need for nature and creativity in one go.

The Crystal Palace in the Retiro Park. Image by Diego Delso / Wikipedia.

Puerta de Alcalá

Madrid was once a walled city and this monument used to be one of its five entrance points. Flanked by blooming flowers and the aforementioned Retiro park, you can spot the city of Madrid below through the gate’s arches. When walking around the stone ‘door’, you may notice some small marks: cannon shrapnel damage from the Spanish Civil War. After all, the gate does date back to the late 1700s — it’s bound to have some scars!

The gate of Alcala. Image by Juanlufer4 / Wikipedia.

Palacio Real

We know Buckingham Palace and Versailles get all the attention, but Madrid’s Royal Palace is actually the largest royal palace in Europe in surface area. You can pay an entrance fee to to explore some of the 3,418 rooms (beyond the bedrooms and ballrooms you can also check out the royal library and pharmacy), but we love simply admiring the outside of the palace. The grounds are bordered with 44 statues of historic Spanish royals and the Sabatini gardens filled whimsical labyrinths of trimmed hedges and ponds.

The Royal Palace at night. Image from Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio.

Templo de Debod

Bewildering as it may seem, an Egyptian temple sits peacefully in the heart of Madrid’s city center. The temple dates back to the 2nd century BC, but was given to Spain as gift from Egypt in 1968. The temple arrived in Spain disassembled in stones and was rebuilt in the Parque Oeste, piece by piece until it finally opened to the public in 1972. Locals and visitors have been enjoying colorful sunsets seen from the temple and its surrounding park ever since.

Templo de Debod in fall. Image by Lori Zaino.

Plaza de Cibeles

The busy traffic circle may not seem appealing on paper, but when you see the beautiful Cibeles Palace, you’ll immediately be impressed. The massive structure was once a post office, but is now the mayoral office. Don’t worry though, many parts of the building are open to the public, like the lobby and the building often houses art and fashion exhibitions. The rooftop, which overlooks the bustling rotunda and beyond, is a chic place to enjoy a sunset cocktail. Below, you’ll see the Cibeles Fountain, another emblematic structure in Madrid. The fountain depicts Cybele, the Greek goddess of fertility pulled by two lions on her chariot.

Cibeles Palace and fountain. Image by Lori Zaino.

Catedral de Almudena

Built on the site of a former mosque, Spain’s cathedral is relatively new compared to many of its other monuments, officially consecrated in just 1993, over 100 years later when construction first began. Although most Christian churches have an east-west orientation, this one is unusual in that it has a north-south orientation to match with its neighbor, the Royal Palace. The Cathedral has services you can attend if that’s your thing, but you can also walk through to check out its Neo-Gothic interior free of charge too.

The Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace. Image by Lori Zaino.

Edificio Metrópolis

Perched on the corner of one of Madrid’s most exciting streets, this impressive building is the perfect jumping off point to start your trek down Calle Gran Vía. Although the street is known for shopping  with many stores housed in refurbished movie theaters, don’t forget to look up to see some spectacular architectural wonders — the Metropolis building is just one of them. The design of the building is French-inspired, and you’ll be in serious awe of the dome at the top which is covered in 24-karat gold and presided by an angel.

The Metropolis Building. Image by Max Alexander / Wikipedia.

Plaza Mayor

This majestic plaza may just be Madrid’s most emblematic sight. Although it can be touristy and crowded, you can’t leave Madrid without seeing this special square, which has 237 balconies that face its center. With the red walls and newly-renovated fresco facade, the bustling plaza is home to cafes and pubs where you can chill out and grab a beer. The ambiance is quite different than what it once was back in the day — a spot for town meetings, the site of Spanish inquisition trials and even home to bullfights.

The Plaza Mayor. Image by Sebastian Dubiel / Wikipedia.

Your Guide To Spain’s Fashion, Shopping and Designer’s Scene

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When you think of fashion capitals around the world, New York, Milan, Paris, London and Tokyo may first come to mind. But don’t discount Madrid, a European capital with some seriously chic style,  talented designers and fashionable brands, or even Spain in general. After all, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are all spots budding with fashionistas too! Here are just some of the designers and shops to know and check out during your next visit to Spain.

Bimba y Lola

This brand has colorful and versatile garments for everyday wear — think stylish separates and soft leather handbags and wallets. The spring campaign, #ThisisSUMMEROFLOVE, with its bold and vibrant florals and details like feathers, stripes and dots has us believing that this summer will indeed, be filled with love.

Photo by Bimba y Lola

Roberto Verino

Whether it’s preppy menswear suits or an elegant, glittering gown, Roberto Verino has been trending on the Madrid fashion scene since 1984. With his designs in over 46 stores and 76 Corte Inglés locations, the designer is a staple on the Spanish fashion front. His SS18 collection, Dream Island, makes us want to hop on a yacht and take a spin around the Mediterranean: think nautical stripes, crisp white linens and soft cotton. The leather bomber jackets and cigarette pants rewind us back for vintage-inspired spring.

Photo by Roberto Verino

Sita Murt

Sita Murt grew up designing her own knitwear and named her brand after herself in the 1990s. With light, flowing fabrics and simple, modern designs, Sita Murt has made a name for herself in spots like Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. Check out one of her shops to purchase a red, wide-leg jumpsuit or voluminous, earthly green and beige separates this season.

Adolfo Dominguez

Another designer who’s been hot on the Spanish fashion scene since the 1980s, Dominguez has created a brand aesthetic and always sticks to it: using loose and natural fabrics. Although his designs move with the current trends, he always seems to stay true to his original aesthetic while creating stylish and wearable clothing. This spring, it’s all about color, with vivacious pinks, bright golds and rich royal blues.

Photo by Adolfo Dominguez.

Teresa Helbig

Known for her dresses, Teresa Helbig creates garments that are both romantic and bohemian, but modern enough for a 21st century, all-encompassing female. Impeccably designed and sewn, you’ll turn heads in a Teresa Helbig dress, that’s for sure. She’s also known for her made-to-measure bridal wear. For SS18, get ready for bold and gold from her collection, Rien ne va plus.

Photo from the Teresa Helbig Facebook page.

Juana Martin

Coming straight from Córdoba, Spain, you can feel the Andalusian flavor this designer’s garments emit immediately. However, her talent lies in making ruffles and flamenco-inspired pieces relevant to city living. So don’t be surprised if you end up taking back a little bit of Andalusia to New York, London or Singapore with you. Pickup a flowy, white sundress or an layered orange tea-length number for this summer.

Photo by Juana Martin.

Uterqüe

Although this company is owned by Spanish group Intidex, the fashions found at this shop seem original, despite the fact the brand boasts 82 stores around the globe. Uterqüe still hasn’t made a debut in the UK, Australia or the United States, so it’s best to visit Spain to shop, where you’ll find 34 of the stores. The store feels like an upmarket Zara, with snazzy fashions appropriate for pretty much any occasion. The spring collection is full of exciting colors and silky fabrics, so stop in to check it out.

Photo by Uterqüe.

If you want to shop these brands and more, Insider’s Madrid will create a personalized shopping or fashion tour for you around Madrid, ensuring you discover all the coolest Spanish brands that perfectly cater to your individual style and budget.

If you want to dig even dipper into Spain’s fashion roots, a textile, food and fashion tour from Corazón will take you to different cities in Spain, giving you exclusive opportunities like meeting cape-makers and silk painters in Madrid, taking a patchwork class from former Givenchy model Lola Barasoain in La Rioja and touring the Valgañon family factory (which has been said to  manufacture for the likes of Hermés, Givenchy and others) in the country town of Ezgaray and  is known for its mohair and cashmere scarves.