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The D/A UK guide to Madrid

Move over Barcelona, Spain's capital has much to offer diehard design lovers

Where to stay: Hotel Urban

Just minutes from Puerta del Sol, Hotel Urban is one of the sleekest addresses in Madrid’s new wave of boutique hotels. The imposing steel façade hides minimalist interiors crafted from glass, stone, and wood which allow a vast collection of Papua New Guinean artefacts and priceless Chinese, Hindu, and African artworks to take centre stage. It also has some impressive facilities for a city centre bolthole, including a rooftop pool terrace and a restaurant and bar headed up by award-winning chefs and mixologists.

Where to eat: Hermosilla

Madrid-based design team Plantea Estudio has created an earthy eatery layered with tactile materials in Hermosilla, where Italian Chef Marco Carboni serves up his Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Carboni works with local producers to put organic, seasonal food at the forefront of his menu, which combines Italian classics like wood-fired pizzas and pasta with Spanish influences. Think Sobrasada, Cantabrian anchovies, and Manchego, all complemented by a carefully curated natural wine list.

What to see: Ivorypress

Founded in London in the 1990s by Elena Ochoa Foster, the publishing house Ivorypress also now comprises a gallery and bookshop in a space designed by Elena’s husband, Norman Foster. Past exhibitions include Olafur Eliasson, Andy Warhol and Zaha Hadid and in the bookshop, visitors can browse Ivorypress’ own publicatinos as well as a selection of tomes focused on photography, contemporary art and architecture. Both spaces can be visited by appointment and guided tours are also available.

The best rooftop: Circulo Bellas Artes

Housed in a historic 1926 building designed by revered Spanish architect Antonio Palacios, the Circulo Bellas Artes is a cultural institution that has been celebrating the arts since 1880. Best known for its exhibitions showcasing works from Francis Bacon and Picasso to Saul Bass and Le Corbusier, the space also screens independent films and is topped with a drinks terrace overseen by a particularly grand statue of Minerva.

Catch a film: Sala Equis

Another project signed by Plantea Estudio is Sala Equis, a former adult movie theatre reborn as a contemporary cinema. In the main screening room, which now takes the shape of an urban courtyard, the traditional stalls have been replaced with bleachers and deckchairs for watching a programme of original language films chosen according to a monthly theme. The downstairs bar serves up Spanish tapas and American classics such as burgers, hot dogs, and of course popcorn, whilst upstairs a cocktail bar sits under the glow of red strip lights in a nod to the building’s previous life.

Where to get coffee: Toma Cafe

One of the first third-wave coffee shops to hit Madrid, Toma Café has now grown to three locations across the city but it’s the Malasaña address which is the beloved original. The space is small so if you can’t get a table, take your coffee to go (the Cold Brew with a slice of orange helps beat the Madrid heat) and find a spot in nearby square Dos de Mayo, or try to stick around for a light breakfast or daily lunch special to go with your caffeine hit.

Where to drink: Vinology

The high ceilings and exposed brick walls of a historic Salamanca building provide the perfect setting for sommelier Pilar Oltra’s stylish wine bar, Vinology. Designer Paty Pombo reimagined the space with climbing vines and floral arrangements alongside vintage treasures from Madrid’s El Rastro market. The wine list champions small Spanish producers and pairs with dishes celebrating every corner of the country. And unlike most bars, you can reserve a table.

Shop for cheese: Formaje

Clara Diez and Adrián Pellejo opened Formaje to celebrate artisan cheese and create a community with which they could share their love and knowledge of the product. The duo tapped Cobalto Studio to create the interiors, resulting in a tonal colour palette inspired by shades of cheese and accessorised with natural wood and granite. The space is also used to hold tastings, which are available in English on request, and as well as the cheese itself there’s a selection of beautifully designed accessories for presenting it back home.