The Westin Palace Hotel en Madrid ♥♥♥♥♥
One word — luxurious. From check in to check out, the friendly staff, elaborate chandeliers, murals, and views from hotel balconies made our experience here a dream. The entrance was conveniently located in walking distance from many tourist attractions, parks, and restaurants.
The palace was a bit on the expensive side, but totally worth it in my opinion. The front desk & concierge staff were wonderful to us. They spoke just enough English to recommend restaurants we would like and tend to our every need. If adapters are needed for outlets, just call down to the lobby & a staff member will bring multiple up to you in a jiffy. Rooms are meant for 2 people, but they are so spacious 3 people could comfortably fit with a roll-away bed.
El Rotundo, the restaurant on floor 0, was exquisite. We would go every morning & use our Westin/Marriott points to get a table for 3. Somedays, I would be in a hurry to get to class and just fill my bag with quick eats like juice, yogurt, and snacks from the buffet. On mornings we could relax, we would sit down under the stained glass ceilings in the dining room to enjoy a long breakfast from either the hot buffet or on-request menu. Every aspect of this hotel made me feel like royalty & I never wanted to leave.
El Rincon de Esteban ♥♥♥♥
El Rincon de Esteban was recommended to us by the concierge in our hotel on our first night in Madrid. In the Spanish culture, dinner time isn’t until around 9pm, which made it easy for us to get reservations at 8. When we first walked in, I immediately picked up on some major Spanish vibes. We were welcomed by the manager into the small dining room with only about 8 tables. It felt exactly like you would expect Spanish dining to feel. We had bread served to us for an appetizer, along with some olives and cheese. Then, a palate cleansing treat was brought out after we had ordered our food. We ate steak and paella, which tasted exquisite and was presented beautifully. After dinner, we ordered a delicious cheesecake and little complimentary chocolates were placed on our table. The staff was amazing and so friendly. El Rincon de Esteban is what we called “small but mighty” and I definitely would eat here again.
Palacios Real ♥♥♥
The line was so long outside the Palacios Real, we almost didn’t get in it. I am so glad we did because the time actually passed very quickly because of the photo ops and accordion players for entertainment along the way. Once we got inside, we could walk around the courtyard to photograph & take in the view (pictures were so good that they made it on my insta). Inside, you walk through the palace of the Spanish Royal family throughout the centuries. You can read about the history while you walk through where they actually lived. No pictures are allowed inside, but postcards of the sights can be purchased in the gift shop at the end.
Taberna del Alabardero ♥♥
After a long day of art class, language class, shopping, and touring, we crashed at this little café right before our siesta. The Taberna del Alabardero was quick, easy, and aesthetically pleasing. The drink menu had an assortment of old-fashioned milkshakes, sundaes, frozen lemonades, and more. It’s located around museums, shops, and a park. The outdoor seating has fans for hot days, glass walls, umbrellas, and a beautiful view of the park across the street. Indoor tables are surrounded by paper 3D butterflies, pastel walls, and comfy chairs. Perfect for a quick mid-day recharge. Definitely cute, but not necessarily a must-see.
Parque de Retiro ♥♥♥
Our hotel was so conveniently located only blocks away from the Parque de Retiro & we walked there several times throughout the week. The nature was beautiful & people can enjoy a break from the sun in the grassy shade under a ceiling of trees. On the water, there were canoes, kayaks, and boats out during the day & on the boardwalk there were merchants and a wide path for walking, where my dad went for runs in the mornings.
El Alfar Artes Plasticas ♥♥♥♥
While in Madrid, I took art classes once a day at El Alfar Artes Plasticas. The place was recommended to me by my Spanish school (AIL Madrid) and I immediately signed up. The environment was inspirational & the fact no one spoke English made it a good place to work on my Español. The instructors were very friendly and offered helpful advice (in Spanish) throughout our work. The first few days I drew a chalk pastel piece of a traditional Spanish bull & finished it within 2 two-hour periods. Instructions and guidelines were clear, but it was still flexible to creativity and open artistic vision.
The ceramics class was my favorite. The instructor was amazingly nice and we met several people from different countries in the class. Due to our lack of time, we just painted small clay tiles in a traditional Spanish design with acrylic paint. It took very little artistic ability and was so much fun. I am definitely coming back to this adorable art studio my next trip to Madrid!
I am currently making my way around Europe on a ship, writing about my adventures & educating myself about different cultures as I experience life all around the world. Follow me throughout my 6 week journey & let me know any questions you might have while planning your next trip to Madrid!