Culture Trip (CT): How does life in Madrid differ from life in London?
Kimberley Tecles-Byrom (KT-B): It’s rare that you find a city so prolific that doesn’t centre itself on tourism. The way of life is more relaxed than it is in London, and it’s not unusual to pasear, which means to take a stroll with no destination. You’re never far from somewhere to get some tapas and a caña (small beer) – everywhere takes 5–15 minutes to get to.
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CT: Do you think there are as many opportunities to succeed in the fashion industry in Madrid as there are in London?
KT-B: Some of the largest fashion companies in the world are based in Spain, so the opportunity is huge. Zara and Mango are both based here, as is the main luxury fashion house LOEWE. Its bags are still very much a status symbol, not just in Madrid but across the entire country. Industry-wise, Galicia in the north of Spain and Cataluña are equally important.
CT: How would you describe the local style in Madrid?
KT-B: Local style is quite conservative, but then there are the really ‘cool kids’ who, at the moment, are channelling a retro 1990s aesthetic. It’s a small percentage but it stands out for that reason.
CT: Tell us about your favourite boutique stores and where to find them.
KT-B: Ekseption on Calle Velázquez is the best place to find luxury fashion brands, and Bimba y Lola on Calle Serrano is my go-to for something unique and a little bit quirky. Mango and Zara have flagships there, too.
CT: What three items should every Madrid-based fashion lover have in their wardrobe?
KT-B: Sunglasses, GOYAs and some SPF tinted-moisturiser (Origins GinZing SPF 40 is my go-to).
CT: What are your top three places to eat in the city?
KT-B: Sala de Despiece on Calle Ponzano is designed to look like a fridge inside and the walls are dressed with stacked polystyrene boxes and carving knives – plus the food is excellent. Café Comercial has a classic Madrileño menu, which has recently been relaunched, and the clientele can be anyone from hipsters to the elderly. In Madrid, everyone is invited.
CT: Where do you get your morning coffee from?
KT-B: Santa Kafeina on Calle Viriato. It serves the best coffee in the city and has a unique food menu. The doughnuts are topped with things like matcha, peanut butter and even wasabi sesame.
CT: What is the best spot to head to with your laptop?
KT-B: Toma Café on Calle Santa Feliciana.
CT: What is the best spot to head to for some tranquillity?
KT-B: Without a doubt, the Retiro Park. It is beautiful whatever time of year it is.
CT: Are there any fitness studios that we need to know about?
KT-B: El Gong on Paseo General Martínez Campos. Barre classes there are brilliant and they offer a range of yoga and pilates, too.
CT: Where is the best place to go for a day trip to escape the city?
KT-B: Toledo and Segovia are close by and both very historic, or you can head to the Casa de Campo on the outskirts of the city. It’s a vast green space with a lido, lake and cable car.