The Barrio de las Letras is in fashion

By | 27 January, 2015 | 0 comments

barrio letrasThis last January 24th, a small cultural milestone happened when they discovered the tomb of Miguel de Cervantes in the crypt of the Convent of Las Trinitarias, in the heart of the Barrio de Las Letras district, very close to the Church of San Sebastián, the resting place of Lope de Vega. With the enigmatic yet conclusive inscription of his initials “M.C.”, now they have to check whether they really are the remains of the author of El Quijote, which would give this district an even bigger literary aura.

This district was the heart of literary life back in the Siglo de Oro, Spain’s “Golden Century” back in the 16th and 17th centuries. You can see this in the plaque at the end of Calle León, a spot where the literary managers and candidates used to gather in order to know first hand the news of the world of literature.

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Categories: tourism

Madrid goes Italian

By | 23 December, 2014 | 0 comments

comida italianaOn Santa Engracia 143 you can find Mercato Ballaró, a part of Sicily in Madrid that, unlike many other Italian restaurants, does not have traditional or folkloric decoration. All the opposite: soft, grey and pleasant tones come together to offer an excellent gastronomic experience with two proposals: the one on the ground floor (Mercato Abajo), where you can order half portions at affordable prices; or the upper floor (Mercato Arriba) for more formal dinners. Dishes like the tagliolini with Sicilian juice or maccheroncini with zucchini and fish define a menu that it shares with another restaurant run by the same owners, La Tavernetta, on Calle Orellana, 17, which is also worth a visit.

While on the subject of Italian restaurants that do not seem Italian because of their decoration, we come to Ouh… Babbo!, on Calle Caños del Peral, 2 (Ópera area, close to our hotel by the Gran Vía). Owned by the Spanish actor of Italian origin Bruno Squarcia, it offers a wide range of Italian products such as the tartufone (not on the menu), a delicious recipe made with pasta, eggs, Parmesan cheese and the fundamental twist of white truffle (20 euros). On Thursdays, Bruno himself plays a guitar recital of traditional Italian songs, so make sure you book in advance (and book a table on the ground floor).

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Categories: blog

A route around hipster Madrid

By | 5 December, 2014 | 0 comments

Plaza de San IldefonsoIt is the trendiest word… or is it not trendy anymore? In any case, hipsters are there and they materialise in some of the places or spaces in this article. We start at La Realidad (Bar Mítico), a bar that opened its doors some four years ago at Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 51. Famous for its different kinds of G&Ts, all the colours they come in and the little bits inside of it, it has as many lovers as it has detractors.

The bar’s success came soon after the owners of La Bicicleta Café tried their luck in the adjacent square of Plaza San Ildefonso, and since its inauguration it has become one of the area’s trendiest spaces. They boast about loving everything with their soul and caring for all the little details, as well as having homemade pastries and healthy food in a setting that pays tribute to cycling culture.

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Categories: blog, tourism

The Railway Museum

By | 27 November, 2014 | 0 comments

estacion deliciasYou do not have to get onto any moving train to soak in the old spirit of the railway world. All you need to do is go to the Museo de Ferrocarril (Railway Museum) in the Delicias district to experience these sensations from up close, in what used to be the old Delicias Station, reminiscent of Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris and those that have been immortalised in artworks on so many occasions. So, what can we find in the museum? An attractive collection of old locomotives, such as the steam locomotive called Confederación, which back in its day was the most technically advanced one in the world, reaching speeds of up to 87 mph. There are also more modern train engines, electric and diesel-powered, and parts of the legendary Spanish train Talgo.

Lovers of the railway world will also enjoy the Clock Room (Sala de Relojes), a room filled with clocks that used to be a synonym of extreme punctuality back in the days when trains were of more widespread use and that used to be checked by nearby neighbours when they wanted to know the exact time.

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Categories: blog, tourism

A taste of Russia in Madrid

By | 15 November, 2014 | 0 comments

blini ruso

Geographically, there is no place further from Madrid inside Europe than Russia. Luckily, we have many restaurants that shorten that distance and, for a few hours at least, make us feel like we are in Dostoyevsky’s country. One of them is Rasputin, a mixture of decadent, romantic and 19th century decor on Calle Yeseros, 2, very close to Calle Bailén.

Its decor takes us back to pre-communist Russia, reminiscent of the times of Anna Karenina. It has an à la carte menu but also set menus, with delicious dishes such as blinis with caviar, stroganoff sirloin steak and duck and salmon recipes. Despite it being in the “20 euros or more per person” range, it is excellent value for money if we go by the generous reviews left on the internet by satisfied customers.

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Circulo de Bellas Artes: cultural centrifuge

By | 2 November, 2014 | 0 comments

Circulo Bellas ArtesBuilt in 1926, the building that holds the Círculo de Bellas Artes, also known as CBA, is one of the most outstanding ones in Madrid. Although the CBA itself was founded in 1880, it was not until when it moved to its current home that it started to gain its character, especially in the 80s of the last century, when it was consolidated as a cultural focus of reference.

Its exhibitions are always stimulating for curious spectators, as is the one you can currently visit called ‘Experimental writing in Spain, 1965-1983’. It includes creative artists such as Isidoro Valcárcel, Jorge Oteiza, Antoni Tàpies or Esther Ferrer although in their more literary version as writers who are more or less important, who launch themselves to write “without the obstacles from atavisms of the past”. It is open until January 11th.

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Categories: blog, tourism

The best sushi with a Spanish twist

By | 15 October, 2014 | 0 comments

sushi madridJapanese cuisine has become deeply rooted in our country and there are chefs that are slowly beginning to dedicate themselves fully to this Oriental gastronomy. one of them is Ricardo Sanz, who has managed for his Kibuki Wellington restaurant (Calle Velázquez, 6) to earn a Michelin star.

True sushi lovers have been regularly visiting this restaurant, with austere decoration but that offers delicious gastronomic surprises, such as red mullet sashimi, fried quail egg nigiri with white-truffle paté or even spicy bull tartar. We are however in the Michelin-star league, so prices do not go any lower than 100 euros per person.

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Categories: blog, tourism

How to spend a perfect afternoon on the Gran Vía (Part III)

By | 25 September, 2014 | 0 comments

sterling madridThe last stretch of the Gran Vía, the one that leads towards Plaza de España and which is next to our hotel next to this avenue, used to be known as Avenida Eduardo Dato. Unlike the first two, which are more commercial, this part of the avenue is dedicated almost entirely to the world of showbiz, although there are also bars and other corners where to relax. One of them, perfect for those who are on a budget, is Cervecería La Sureña, known for its buckets of beer at very low prices. Another one, for those who prefer the more traditional side of Madrid, is the Museo del Jamón, with its legs of ham hanging from the ceiling and beers at affordable prices.

It is the theatre, though, that gives the shine to Madrid’s version of Broadway, although the third stretch begins with two famous cinemas: Palacio de la Prensa, the previous home of numerous newspapers; and Cine Callao, in front, an example of art deco architecture in the shadows of the emblematic Carrión building, famous for the Schweppes neon sign.

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How to spend a perfect afternoon on the Gran Vía (Part II)

By | 13 September, 2014 | 0 comments

gran via sterlingOh, it’s such a perfect day, I am glad I spent it with you, said Lou Reed in one of his most famous songs. Why not achieve that feeling of fulfillment on any given day on the Gran Vía in Madrid? The Gran Vía is the great artery in Madrid close to Hotel Sterling and here are some recommendations, for the second stretch of this avenue that was previously known as Avenida Pi y Margall.

We start at Red de San Luis, a place that has this name since it used to be the confluence spot of various streets and tram stops back in the day. Today, it is quieter thanks to the pedestrianisation of Calle Montera. At its feet, the impressive Telefónica building, one of the tallest buildings in Europe back in the day (1929). On its ground floor is the Telefónica Foundation, which holds exhibitions of interest such as Arissa. The shadow and the photographer, 1922-1936, which can be seen until September 28th; or Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Geometrical abstraction, which poses curious visual and poetic challenges to the visitor until the 12th of October. Both have free entries.

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Categories: tourism

How to spend a perfect day on the Gran Vía? (I)

By | 2 September, 2014 | 0 comments

Chicote Gran ViaOften criticised for its progressive homogenization with other large European avenues, the Gran Vía still has its own personality that makes it different to the rest. Also, its offer, which combines restaurants, hotels, the latest in fashion, cinema, theatres, musicals and comedy shows, among others, transforms its 0.818 miles of length into a stage filled with attractions.

Starting at the lower part, where Calle Alcalá splits from it, we have the more luxurious area, previously dedicated to jewellery stores, of which there are still a few good ones like Grassy, in the building that carries its name inaugurated in 1952. Slowly, many hospitality services have appeared in this stretch, perhaps the quietest of them all and where until recently the only pause worth making here was in the Chicote Museum, where cocktails are considered a work of art

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