Need inspiration for your next vacation? We ask friends and creatives to share their favourite holiday destinations along with insider tips, travel essentials, hotel and restaurant recommendations and photos they’ve taken along the way. Here, artist Annalisa Ferraris sends us a postcard from Madrid, Spain.
What makes Madrid so special to you?
It’s not as popular as cities like Paris or Rome, but it has just as much, if not more to offer and that makes it all the more special. One of our dearest family friends is from Madrid and I’ve always had fond memories of the city from when I was younger. But going back this time I could fully appreciate its beauty and all its cultural offerings.
Your ultimate long haul flight outfit…
A pair of silk bias cut trousers (with an elastic waist to be comfortable), a black tee, trainers and a blazer. I also always pack a long sleeve top in my carry on.
Three things you always pack for a holiday…
A good moisturiser.
Swimmers, in all seasons.
A diary, or something I can write and draw in.
What have you been reading and listening to on this holiday?
Reading Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Listening to The Blaze and Pavarotti.
Must-stay hotel or property in Madrid…
The Bless Hotel Madrid. It’s chic, fun and in the beautiful Salamanca.
Must-see places and sites…
The Royal Palace is open to wander in and it is truly incredible — dripping with chandeliers and gold-plated ceilings. It wasn’t too busy either and we were there in the peak of summer. The two major galleries, the Reina Sofia and the Prado. Go and see Picasso’s Guernica in the Reina Sofia — it’s breathtaking. And lastly, the gardens of El Retiro Park (it’s a short walk from Bless Hotel), which are home to the incredible Crystal Palace, among many other beautiful sites. It’s otherworldly in there.
Favourite spots to eat and drink in Madrid:
For authentic traditional Spanish cuisine and a great atmosphere go to Casa Botin. It’s the oldest restaurant in the world, dating back to 1725. Order all the starters, followed by the suckling pig which is cooked in the original old coal ovens. For the best Spanish tortilla go to Casa Dani, and have it with a tap beer. For a dance, go to a club called Medias Puri — throughout the night acrobats perform and fly through the air. It’s nuts, and a lot of fun.
Favourite places to shop:
El Rastro flea market on Sundays, for the greatest antiques imaginable — BYO shipping container! For clothing, hit all the little boutiques around Salamanca.
Any local travel advice you want to share?
If you can, catch trains throughout Europe instead of flying — they take you straight into the city centre and you don’t have to worry about bag weight restrictions. It’s also just such a fun way to travel. Also, use the Lime/Bird electric scooters that are scattered throughout most major cities. They’re super cheap, somewhat dangerous, but a great way to see the city and get around. Even better after a wine or two, and especially when there are taxi strikes!