Insider's guide to... Madrid

What's the weather like?

Six months of winter (invierno) and six months of hell (infierno) the old saying goes. But don't be fooled: this exhilarating mountain-top city offers dazzling skies and more sun than anywhere in Europe.

What are the locals complaining about?

Obras - roadworks. Whole neighbourhoods are being dug up at present for ill-defined reasons, usually to do with installing hideous statues, digging tunnels to shift traffic jams underground and gouging away what little remains of the city's greenery. It's been going on for years and seems never-ending.

Who's the talk of the town?

Absolutely no-one is considered hip at the moment, and the man they love to hate is the conservative mayor, Jose Maria Alvarez del Manzano, who is, they say, only interested in attending processions, inaugurating fountains and making - fortunately ineffectual - efforts to curb the city's exuberant night life.

What's the cool drink to order?

Cool bars report huge interest in alcohol-free, high-energy drinks such as Red Bull and Speed.

What are people eating?

Japanese food. Take your Madrileno friends to one of the handful of Japanese restaurants, or, smarter still, order up sushi by telephone. But fried prawns and squid are still okay.

The latest outrageous stuff on TV?

In the satirical Caiga Quien Caiga - untranslatable as "Fall who falls" - an irreverant team of fast-talking presenters stalk celebrities and try to get them to say something stupid. Still considered cool, although it's now in its umpteenth series and has received the good-natured approval of the King.

Where won't locals dream of going?

The Plaza Mayor. Once a fashionable venue for day-long mass executions during the Inquisition, these days only foreigners sit in the broiling sun to eat overpriced tapas and watch other foreigners.

Where are locals going that tourists don't know about?

Inner-city neighbourhoods once marginal and depressed are now undergoing a pre-gentrification perking-up process: Malasana, patrolled by grannies and toddlers during the day and young ravers at night; and multi-ethnic Lavapies, home of the city's North African and Chinese communities, which attracts bohemian arty types who are busy doing up lovely old buildings.

Where are the chic doing their shopping?

Ekseption in the smartest part of town offers cutting-edge design for those with pots of money. Otherwise, the area round Fuencarral, off the Gran Via, for avant-garde clubwear and the latest from the asymmetric knitwear queen, Amaya Arzuaga. Almirante Street is still good for daring fashion that avoids the above extremes.

What's the trendy place to escape for the weekend?

Nearby towns such as Toledo and Segovia are just as packed with tourists as the capital. And the harsh Castilian countryside dotted with austere villages steeped in religion and poverty aren't a load of laughs either. So for a lively excursion offering style and marcha, Madrilenos head for, um, Barcelona.

Elizabeth Nash is the Independent on Sunday's correspondent in Madrid.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own