While beachy Barcelona demands instant attention, Madrid has, in our books, a more slow-burn, self-confident appeal. Over a week in the Spanish capital, you can’t fail to align yourself with the residents’ rhythms: the glass of iced vermouth with prawns in a humming, cheap-and-cheerful tapas bar after visiting the Prado; the table for lunch in a leafy plaza where the waiter keeps the cold white wine coming and local life whirls around you as you order just one more portion of tasty potato croquetas. Then there are those late, late neon-lit nights of cocktails and clubbing. You’ll need a place to call your own – and these hip apartments in Madrid have your name written all over them.
First things first – this is a corking location near the buzzy Puerta del Sol, edged with ice-cream-and-cake apartment buildings in the centre of Madrid. Step inside and the minimal design in these roomy apartments is instantly to love, with furniture in soft shades of pink or grey creating a warm home-from-home feeling. Creamy-serene bathrooms are perfect for an hour’s switch-off after gallery-going, washing the day right out of your hair. Sleek kitchens are kitted out with all you need for a short break in one of Europe’s most dynamic capital cities. But they may not get much use with the volume of bars and restaurants nearby. Anyone for tapas?
Among the grand 19th-century boulevards of Madrid’s Salamanca district is this corner building, with traditionally-styled apartments of dark marble or wooden floors, monochrome decor and neat kitchenettes. Family vacay? Studios sleep up to four. Not that sleep is the operative word in Madrid: the area is lined with traditional restaurants and bars steeped in atmosphere. If you need a breather, stroll for half an hour along Calle de Alcalá to the gorgeous El Retiro Park, home to an artificial lake and with bikes for hire. It’s easy to find al fresco cafes selling snacks.
A basket of goodies for a complimentary breakfast greets you at this sleekly revamped 18th-century palacio in the heart of Madrid de los Austrias – the city’s old town. There’s character in rooms named after famous couples in films and literature, from Harry and Sally to Romeo and Juliet. The individually decked-out spaces mix modern and antique pieces enlivened by touches of bright lime green or orange. If you like cosy, choose loft-style studios on the top floor. Smart kitchen areas have all the time-saving city-break essentials: coffee machine, juicer and a stick blender; useful for cooking what you bought at nearby San Miguel market.
These light-filled and lightly styled one-, two- and three-bedroom studios and apartments feel super-fresh and homey. There are kitchens, comfortable furnishings and walls emblazoned with pretty wallpaper or murals. The attractive red-brick façade, wrought-iron balconies and wooden shutters are impossible to miss; handy, then, for when you return from days out visiting the city sights – perhaps the nearby historic Plaza Mayor square, or the Prado Museum and its art, a 20-minute walk away.
Honeyed floorboards, bright furniture and fresh flowers are the hallmarks of these modern apartments, in a turn-of-the-century edifice on a narrow pedestrian street just off Madrid’s photogenic Gran Via. Spacious tiled bathrooms impress with aromatic Hermes toiletries. Step out, and you’re spoilt for restaurants and bars in the immediate vicinity. That said, if you’re too tired to eat out after a busy day, the kitchens have all you need to cook – and Nespresso machines, vital for the morning after the Madrid-night-before.
If you’re new to Madrid, head straight up to the hotel’s glam rooftop terrace for its sweeping outlook over the Royal Palace – your contemporary studio or one-bedroom suite may or may not have a view. (Fortunately decor is soothing: neutral shades perked up by pinks and oranges.) The studios that do have a view also have a balcony or terrace, which bring the neighbourhood in – you’re a few steps from Gran Via and Plaza España. You’ll have a kitchenette, but we say wolf down a flaky pastry and strong, hot coffee in the dining room then head straight out for the morning. Seasonally brunch is served up on the terrace.
There’s a distinct boutique-hotel ambience to these two- and three-bedroom apartments, thanks to the industrial Manhattan-esque exposed brick walls of the restored early-20th-century russet-brick mansion; that and the design-led furniture – we’re talking transparent-acrylic dining chairs. Bathrooms keep pace with suave stone showers, while pristine kitchens have handy orange-juicers. Take a penthouse for the terraces, or a street-facing apartment with Madrilenian wrought-iron balconies. That way you can absorb life on the busy street below, in the heart of the Malasaña district, just off Gran Vía.
There are two properties under the 60 Balconies banner: one called Atocha, after Madrid’s main station, which is nearby; and one called Recoletos, which you should book if you love the nightlife. Madrid’s cool, classic “gaybourhood”, Chueca, is on the doorstep. By day, the priceless artworks of the Thyssen Museum are easily reached. Fittingly for such funky surrounds, the one- and two-bedroom apartments are Scandi-sexy: think polished wooden floors, luxe leather swivel chairs and smart kitchens. Don’t want to cook? There are dozens of buzzy bars and restaurants nearby to work your way through.
Located in Chamberí, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Madrid, these 15 renovated apartments feel as plush as a five-star hotel, with velvet sofas in jewel-like shade of emerald green and sapphire-blue, prettied up further by fresh flowers and plants. Well-equipped kitchens keep the standards up, with smart amenities including coffee machines. Best bit for us? The balconies for al fresco breakfasts before you head out into the street. This being Chamberi, you can switch from timeworn tavernas to avante-garde haunts in a space of a street-corner’s turning.
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