Check out Madrid reviewer Elizabeth Gorman's take on her adopted city, Madrid. Learn about her two favorite hotels in the Spanish capital, glean her little secrets, and come to understand why she opens doors a little more slowly these days...
1. Favorite hotels.
Hostal A. Nebrija is an antique hostal with the best views in the city. It's a large apartment that was turned into a hostal after passing through many hands of the same Madrid family. Since then, it's kept its familiar, at-home feel with charming large furniture and aged French doors. Though guests share a bathroom, we couldn't get over the unbeatably low rates. We don't think the elderly owners are aware of their competition.
Hotel Europa equals Old World Madrid. Entering its grand entrance evokes images of Spanish aristocrats, men in smoking jackets, and fanning women in lace. The rates are reasonable, especially considering that the hotel sits directly on Plaza Sol.
2. Favorite thing about working in Madrid?
Walking from hotel to hotel isn't easy in Spain's heat. Perhaps that's why a ridiculous number of tapas bars and cafes are strategically placed along the way—and without one Starbucks in site. Drinks cost about one euro and come with enough free grub to charge up even the most lethargic reviewer for his or her next hotel. We rewarded ourselves regularly with Spanish tortilla, chorizo (sausage), and patatas bravas (potatoes and hot sauce), and a good Spanish red wine, either Rioja or Rio del Duero.
3. Give us some insider tips on Madrid.
Between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., siesta rules. Despite being a large metropolitan city, Madrid shuts down and goes home for a large lunch with the family and a catnap.
The Rastro flea market is the best place to be on a Sunday, now that most Madrileños have stopped going to church. I recommend walking the streets littered with vendors selling random objects like old scuba helmets and people watching inside the tiny corner bars while eating cured ham on toast.
Forget New York. Madrid is the true the city that never sleeps. At all hours there are people on the streets: partiers, mothers and their babies, and grandfathers. There's just no competition for Madrid on this front.
The Gothic period never ended in Madrid. No other city rages with such dark fashion, Goth clubs, and Beetlejuice look-alikes. It's a costume ball that gets more attention in Madrid than in other Spanish city, especially on Gran Via, where the white-faced underworld fashionistas wear their best blacks and lace.
4. Funny story.
At one hotel in Madrid, the staff were so busy with guests that they just gave us a set of room keys and sent us up to do our thing. We opened the door, only to see a flash of naked body and pair of wide eyes staring straight at us in the dark! Collecting ourselves, we apologized, slammed the door, and gently returned the keys to the front desk. This particular hotel did not make our list of editor's picks.
5. Favorite local food.
There are Spanish staples that you can find anywhere in Spain. Special to Madrid, however, is the Cocido Madrileño, a heavy stew that will warm you up in the winter. During summer, cool off with vermouth from the tap along with fresh picked olives.
6. Highlight of visit.
Have you ever heard of a little place called El Prado? Apparently, the art there is OK.