Get us to Madrid, stat...
Picking your next holiday destination can be tough. There are currently well over 100 places I plan on visiting in the next year (totally feasible, I know), and sometimes whittling it down to The Chosen One is just too hard.
So, why not take the leg work out of it, and let a member of the Royal family choose for you. Yes, Meghan Markle loves the Spanish city of Madrid, therefore I shall also love the city of Madrid.
Here’s what you need to know about the city break du jour of the Duchess of Sussex (and now, me)…
WHAT TO SEE
Playing host to a veritable smorgasbord of museums, galleries and architectural gems, Madrid is the perfect place to sate your cultural appetite- but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from Europe’s third largest city. Where grand buildings and contemporary culture fuse seamlessly, this city really does have it all.
Spend your morning visiting The Prado art museum or the imposing Royal Palace, before changing the tempo and visiting El Rastro flea market (the largest flea market in Spain – which takes place every Sunday year round) to get a true flavour of Madrid and the diversity this city offers.
For one of Europe’s most popular cities, Madrid never feels stuffy and overcrowded. Perhaps the pace is a bit slower, or the pretty, narrow streets and world-class museums simply command your full attention, but the city, whilst sprawling, has a calming air about it. But don’t mistake calm for boring. This place is crammed with incredible places to eat, drink and be merry – our tip is to visit one of Madrid’s epic rooftop bars to watch the sun set.
WHERE TO STAY
I was visiting Madrid for a long weekend, and wanted to make the most out of my time in the Spanish capital, so when it came to my hotel, location was vital. Housed in a staggeringly impressive building, Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques is the perfect place to call home, if only for a night or two.
Within walking distance to all of the city’s main attractions (just a 2-minute stroll to the Teatro Real opera house and a 5-minute walk to the Royal Palace of Madrid), I suggest taking some time to take a tour of your palatial surroundings, with Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques home to some impressive sights of its own.
The former 19th century palace is opulence defined, with spaces that come to life thanks to the huge Velázquez reproduction paintings adorning the walls – a nod to the art-loving Dukes of Ega and Villahermosa, who once called this palace home. The Velázquez theme runs throughout the hotel, with the luxuriously rich colour palette the 17th century master painter so favoured, evident in the interior colour scheme and in the fabrics in the rooms and suites.
My room had an amazing view of the streets below, and came complete with a bathroom suite that featured a walk in shower/wet room and a bath, all enclosed within glass walls within the bedroom. If anyone can make ultra modern fittings mesh seamlessly with original 19th century features, it’s Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques.
Rooms start from £235 a night. Book here
While your living your best life at Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques, it would be a crime not to visit the rooftop terrace. In season, this space is the perfect spot to watch the sun set, with unrivaled panoramic views across the city to the mountains. Or, you can simply take up residency in the rooftop pool or hot tub, and take in the view from the water.
WHEN TO GO
Whilst it is truly a year-round city, with events and cultural happenings a go go throughout the year, spring and autumn are optimal for weather conditions (the summer months can sometimes get stiflingly hot, think high 30°s). In terms of cheap flights, go off peak in Jan and Feb and you can secure a return flight for as little as £38 – look at Sky Scanner in a private browser to get the cheapest flight deals.