The Gran Vía, the Temple of Debod, Cibeles fountain, the Retiro Park, Sol… More or less, we all know the most touristic and emblematic places of Madrid, but the capital is much more than that. In fact, Madrid treasures some charming places that are not always visible, but they are definitely worth visiting. Relax, tapas, culture and a little of Madrid’s most rogue: this is what you will find in some of its lesser-known corners of the city. Here is a little tour to discover the unknown face of Madrid.
The secret Eden of Calle Montera
Although it is hard to believe, there is a small haven of peace above the hundreds of tourists, hookers and gold buyers that stroll down this central Madrid street. This tea room taken straight out of a fairy tale will welcome you on the top floor of Salvador Bachiller’s shop, where you can have a coffee for breakfast, snack lightly and relax with a drink after work while disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of the city. They are open both in summer and winter.
The coolest place to stay
In the very center of Madrid, right beside Puerta del Sol, you can find a small oasis of Moorish inspiration. It is the courtyard of the Cats Hostel Madrid (catshostels.com), a spectacular Arab-Andalusian patio with historical elements such as a central fountain which dates from the seventeenth century, this fountain is only accessible to customers of the Hostel. Being part of the city’s historical heritage, it is totally protected, making the perfect haven of peace and relaxation.
Beach night in Madrid? In Malasaña, you can do it
In the heart of Malasaña neighborhood, there is a beach with the sand, the lounge, the music, beers, and everything… Except for the sea. Recently renovated, the lower floor of the restaurant Ojalá becomes an improvised chill out beach lounge in the purest Ibizan style, perfect for having some beer with friends thanks to its low tables, soft cushions and dim lights. Home and exotic at the same time. Also, the food is exquisite.
The most romantic garden in the city
Hidden in an interior garden, there is this beautiful coffee and tea room with homemade cakes and pastries, perfect for breakfast or snacking during the day. It is located in the Museum of Romanticism, the perfect setting if the works of Gustav Adolf Bécquer, Goethe, Lord Byron or Rosalia de Castro touched your heart. The museum contains a charming collection of more than 1,600 pieces including furniture, paintings, crockery, and pianos.
Art between rails
An old railway ship belonging to the Atocha station houses La Neomudéjar, an avant-garde arts center and international artistic residence less known than other similar spaces such as La Tabacalera or La Casa Encendida. Away from the conventional art circuit, it seeks to provide an outlet for all kinds of disciplines that have no place in other galleries such as video art, performances, street art, parkour, robotics and more.
The most festive haberdashery in the world
‘Medias Puri’ could be another owner of any traditional corner shop business – in this case, a haberdashery… If it wasn’t for the fact that Medias Puri has nothing to do with any traditional business, but it is the best-kept secret of Madrid. Medias Puri is the clandestine club that everyone wants to go to. Outside it looks like any other haberdashery of Tirso de Molina square, under the theater Nuevo Apolo. But in reality, in its backroom-basement, it hides a party club with capacity for a thousand people and three dance floors.
Behind a door hidden in the baths, and after avoiding an accomplice stewardess who sells perfumes and soaps, you will find a beautiful clandestine bar with red velvet walls and armchairs, leopard carpets and a robust wooden bar brought directly from the 18th-century Parisian church. This perfect hideaway that Hemingway would have loved is located in the renovated NH Collection Suecia hotel, which in addition to redecorating the space has added an innovative gastronomic proposal – Casa Suecia – by the chef Lluis Canadell.
A haunted forest
This botanical garden is worth a visit, even if it is a little far from the city center. It is not only special because of the more than 500 plant species from all over the world that it houses, but also because of the plant-sculptures of impossible sizes that they have managed to represent with them. From elephants, giraffes and dragons to horse-drawnre carriages, locomotives and a rock group, dozens of plant statues that seem to be about to come to life stretch across this magical Haunted Forest.