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  • Fine art, hip shops, tapas bars and spas – Marcus Waring soaks up the culture in Spain's capital city

    WHY GO?

    To see great art – the Prado museum ( will double in size when a new wing officially opens at the end of October. Using oak, marble and brick, architect Rafael Moneo has created a glorious modern space that allows previously mothballed works to be shown. There are also fabulous collections at the Thyssen-Bornemisza ( and Reina Sofia galleries (, not to mention graceful streets, smart shopping and very late nightlife.

    STAY AT…

    Room Mate Alicia (, where the bedrooms are chic and excellent value (doubles from £68). Tucked away in Plaza de Santa Ana, it’s close to the big museums and lively bars and restaurants along calle de las Huertas. Take the metro from the airport to Sol station, then it’s a five-minute walk.

    SHOP AT…

    Isolee ( in Chueca, a design-lover’s dream which sells clothing and deli delights. In the ‘old money’ barrio of Salamanca, Urban Gallery ( has beautiful goodies to decorate both you and your home, from Rosa Chá bikinis to India-inspired light switches. For good food, try the Mercado de la Paz market (, off calle Claudio Coello.


    Privee (Barbara de Braganza 8,, Madrid’s first champagne bar, which features Twenties décor with a modern twist. Book dinner at Mercado de la Reina ( on Gran Via, then carry on drinking at Gin Club, just below. Nearby, in the hip district of Chueca, Studio 54 (Barbieri 7, has a gay/straight crowd and plays Seventies and house music. For something different, New Price Circus ( in Atocha offers a live orchestra, clowns, high-wires and vanishing poodles. Tickets start from £6.


    Spa Sensay ( off the frenetic Gran Via. It’s a dark little secret with

    a Jacuzzi, pool, sauna and hammam – try the one-hour volcanic hot stone massage (£50). Caroli Health Club ( on calle Serrano offers a 90-minute oyster facial (£88), or the classical Relajarium ( on nearby calle Claudio Coello does

    a delightful 15-minute head and neck massage, light lunch and snooze in a massage chair for £27.

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