This insider’s guide to hangout spots is written for free-spirited, cool hunters, those who enjoy more improvised afternoons and want to avoid the tourist-packed places in Madrid. It includes tips about the hard to find places, shared by my friends who know this town well. They will lead you to a different, unexpected kind of Madrid…for design enthusiasts and music lovers, for the foodies who are not afraid to try tapas with a twist. Discover newer corners and spot the trendiest Madrileños.
A tropical escape in Madrid: CASA CORONA
During the summer, Madrid can get hot, very hot. The luckiest escape to the beach, but if you are in the city you can survive those hot summer days in Casa Corona, located inside the Jardín de la Fundación Ortega y Gasset, just off the main Castellana street. The seasonal pop-up offers much more than your typical summer terrace. Thanks to large trees creating the shade, and the lawn along with the steam jets, you will lay in one of the Balinese beds or puffs and feel Caribbean all over the place. Besides enjoying fresh beer, try the guacamole and chips. The hard to find garden in the heart of Chamberí neighborhood will surprise you with live music, concerts, cooking workshops such as one on how to prepare Ceviche, or a workshop on how to build your own espadrilles. Besides, there are a large number of free activities organized daily: meditation, indoor surfing & capoeira, among the most popular.
Clandestine bar for design enthusiasts: KIKEKELLER
While walking through the streets of the Malasaña neighborhood, you will find Kikekeller, a place worth getting lost in for a while. In 2005, Kike Keller and Celia Montoya opened the bold design studio, described as a space where art and objects meet to propose a different discourse. More than your average furniture store: they create, restore and reinvent industrial furniture and decoration objects, with a very personal and creative style. The place used to be a tailor shop, but today, the space full of unique furniture and objects made to measure, has a bar in the back. Once you have seen and enjoyed the collection of furniture and the art exhibitions that keep constantly changing, you are going to want to head to the bar. Furniture, music and drinks, an attractive formula that seems to work without a doubt. The place is often packed with people, and a group of Madrid locals say the usual plan is ordering from the premium distilled menu or simply an imported beer. The environment is very personal and quiet, difficult to define and original, it kind of gives you this clandestine meeting vibe.
A book lover’s mecca: CERVANTES Y COMPAÑIA
Cervantes y Compañia is the ultimate hangout spot to drink coffee among the intellectuals. This space takes the bookstore game to a whole different level. There are very few bookstores where you will feel more at ease and excited to find a book to read. It’s easy to get lost between the striking updated book covers, the quotes all over the walls and the small collection of vinyls being played on a black turntable, which is the first thing I noticed as I entered. The place isn’t merely a place for books, it goes beyond that first impression you have when you get inside, and this is partly because in the left corner of the first floor, you will find a stairway that will take you to the basement of Cervantes and Co. The basement is where you find the good collections and the tiny bar area which practically works as self-service. After grabbing a coffee and wondering around, you will find small spaces with temporary art exhibitions, very unusual installations and cozy lounge areas to sit for a while and enjoy the company of books or your friends, whatever sounds better to you.
A new concept for theatre: MICROTEATRO POR DINERO
At a first glance, Microteatro is more than just a bohemian space presenting theatre. The 18 tiny rooms located in the basement are the space for actors to showcase different but thematically similar plays, in just 15 minutes and for just 15 spectators. Everything is small, intimate, and also fast. But the first thing you notice when entering the building is the packed bar-restaurant above the rooms, a perfect place for the spectators to wait between shows and drink a glass of wine, or even share some tapas. Every play runs chronologically every 30 minutes or so; in this way, the viewer can choose the time he wants to spend in the theater, according to the number of plays he wants to see, and wait in-between upstairs by the bar. There’s no place where leisure and culture meet so organically, and theatre becomes so relevant to our surroundings. Yolanda Eslait, who has been living in Madrid for 4 years, tells me that every month there is a different theme: for money, for love, for the future, for food… you get the idea. Eslait recalls the best plays are always the comedies, and eventually, that’s what I went for.
Casa Corona; Calle de Fortuny, 53; Metro Ruben Dario or Alonso Martinez; (+34) 640 78 87 11; Tue-Thu: 5pm-midnight, Fri: 2pm-midnight, Sat-Sun: 12pm-midnight.
Kikekeller; Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, 17; Metro Callao or Santo Domingo; (+34) 915 22 87 67; Mon-Wed: 12pm–3pm, 5pm– 9pm, Thu-Sat: 12pm–3pm, 5pm–3am.
Cervantes y Compañia; Calle del Pez, 27; Metro Noviciado or Santo Domingo; (+34) 910 11 80 37; Mon-Fri:11 am-3pm, 5pm-9.30pm, Sat:12pm-9.30pm.
Microteatro; Calle Loreto Prado y Chicote, 9; Metro Callao or Gran Via; (+34) 915 21 88 74; Mon-Wed: 7pm-12pm, Thu-Fri: 7pm-2.30am, Sat: 10.30pm-2.30am, Sun: 10.30pm-midnight.