Just over a month ago I spent three wonderful days in Madrid, Spain and it was glorious! Three days wasn’t nearly enough time to explore all of Madrid; but that means there is an excuse to visit again, right?!
Anyway, here is a breakdown of how we spent our three days in Madrid:
Where we stayed
There are so many places to stay when visiting Madrid, from hostels to hotels, all with something different to offer. After weeks of trolling through various websites, we finally agreed upon Hotel Santo Domingo*, booking it through booking.com. Now, this hotel was the perfect summary of the heart-eyed emoji – you know the one (😍). A 4* hotel located in the city centre of Madrid, making it a perfect base for exploring the wonderful city. Also on sight is two restaurants, Restaurante Sandó and La Barra de Sandó; as well as access to Cuevas de Sandó and Sunset Lookers.
So, the rooftop option is what drove us to pick this hotel, as not only did it have the terrace and bar, but a rooftop pool! Who doesn’t like a bit of a rooftop pool?! This offered amazing views of the Madrid skyline while you relaxed by the pool or up on the sun terrace. It was a perfect spot to unwind after doing a bit of sightseeing and we visited the pool area several times during our stay.
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We booked a triple room costing around €425 which we split between the three of us. The room was a great size and fit three beds comfortably. I think the room is also used as a double or twin room, as one of the beds was extra. We also had a large window with a view of the buildings across the street, and the main road outside.
The bathroom was the highlight of this room. It was ocean themed with a fish print all over the walls. The floor was glass with sand and pebbles underneath, very beachy! The shower was fab, with the added extra of toiletries being provided by the hotel.
Definitely a great choice of a hotel, and one that I would love to stay in again. The staff were very friendly and welcoming and would always try to help you. I asked for a shaving kit which was promptly provided by the housekeeping. 100% recommend this hotel to anyone looking to travel to Madrid.
We arrived in Madrid between 10 – 11 a.m. after catching an early flight from Manchester airport. We had to stay over in a hotel to arrive at the airport early enough, and it was safe to say that it wasn’t a restful nights sleep, thanks to a ‘couple’ above our room. It is safe to say we were pretty tired when we arrived. Unfortunately, we couldn’t check in straight away but the hotel had a place to store our bags until we could officially check in.
So, off we popped to explore around Madrid, slightly bleary-eyed but full of excitement of exploring a new city. Yes, we did get slightly lost but did we mind, no way, that’s the whole fun of exploring! We stopped for a bite to eat, sitting at an outside table of Cerveceria 100 Montaditos. Here we were able to sample small sandwiches and snacks, all for around €1 each, bargain! We thought we were doing quite well at translating the menu, as it was all in Spanish, however, came a cropper when attempting to order a cone of chips, with a cone of crisps arriving instead. There were so many salted crips! I guess my GCSE Spanish has definitely slipped out of my mind…you don’t use it, you lose it I guess; although saying that I can ask for several stationery items perfectly… un sacapuntas anyone?! 😂
After having our well-needed snack, and as many of the salted crisps we could manage, off we went to continue exploring. It was nearing our check-in time but we decided to find a little street bar to have a cocktail and watch the world go by, stumbling across a lovely little Cuban place, Cuando Salí de Cuba. The mojito I ordered was delicious and definitely refreshing in the Spanish sunshine. The outdoor seating was out on the street with apartments on the opposite side, a proper Spanish little street. I could have stayed there all afternoon, but we really wanted to check into the hotel and explore the rooftop pool.
So, after checking in and awing over our room, we headed on up to the rooftop pool and bar for a bit of a chill. The tiredness was definitely starting to set in a bit, but we powered through and resited the option of having a nap. The rooftop area was quite busy, so I think most people had the same idea as us. Despite this, it was nice to sit around with a drink or two taking in the views around.
After a few hours by the pool, we decided to put our glad rags on and head out for a bite to eat and some drinks. Before this, though we headed back up to the rooftop for a few pics (had to be done right?!).
We didn’t have a restaurant in mind so chose one near to the hotel called Topolino Restaurant. Here I got a very tasty and filling vegetable paella, served up in a paella pan.
We finished the day by exploring further afield into the Malasaña area of the city. We looked up a bar which has a beach/ sand floor and thought it would be a great way to add a bit of a ‘beach break’ to the trip. The place is called Ojalá, and serves up food and drink, with us choosing to go for the latter. Apparently, you can’t go to the sand part for just drinks, so that was a bit of a disappointment. We did manage to get a quick peek of this downstairs area when visiting the toilet. I opted for a sangria in here, with the girls choosing some frozen daiquiris of some sort. The deco was quite cool, with a large automatic glass door that separated one part of the seating area. The food looked delicious, and the free olives they gave with the drinks were very yum!
After our drinks, we took a walk back through the streets of Madrid to the hotel. It was safe to say we were shattered and looking forward to crawling into bed!
We woke up on the second day, somewhat refreshed and ready to continue exploring the vast city of Madrid. We headed out and decided to purchase a day ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus. A day ticket cost around €19 which isn’t a bad price to say how many places you can visit in the day. It allows you to travel on the two lines that are available for the hop on hop off bus. You also get free earphones to listen to the tour guide explaining the various sights.
Our first stop on the bus was Retiro Park aka Parque del Buen Retiro. Now, this park is pretty big and has lots of different places you can visit within it. It is a beautiful park to visit, with plenty of seating areas to admire the various views. There are even a few cafe type places dotted around so you can enjoy a drink or ice cream. We planned on renting a few bikes, however, couldn’t find the pay station for these, so we explored the park on foot.
Retiro Park Lake
In the park, there is a large lake that you can sit around or hire a boat to row around it. You guessed it, we did the latter and it was so much fun! It cost us €6 euros to hire the boat for approx. 45 minutes, which is a real bargain. It was a great way to look at the Monumento Alfonso XII, which is stunning up close and from the waterside. We weren’t the best rowers initially, but finally got the hang of by the time our 45 minutes were up. I would totally recommend doing this if visit Madrid. Make sure you are wearing sun lotion though, as the sun can be relentless!
Palacio de Cristal del Retiro
After rowing around the lake, we decided to head off in search of the Crystal Palace otherwise know as Palacio de Cristal. This place is stunning! Its made up of glass and metal, giving it the ‘crystal’ look. Apparently, it was originally designed as a greenhouse to house tropical plants. It is used as an exhibition space for various art projects now instead. Let me tell you, it definitely still has the greenhouse effect as it was absolutely boiling in there. Totally worth spending time in the heat though.
Realising we had only eaten an ice cream all day, we chose to head back for the tour bus to find somewhere to eat. Spotting Hard Rock Cafe, we decided to eat there. I had yummy fajitas and a nice refreshing cocktail. It was lovely to relax in the outside area before jumping back on the tour bus to the hotel.
We again put on our glad rags and headed out for a few drinks. We went to watch one of the England World Cup matches in a little sports bar we found. After the match, we decided to hunt out a few rooftop bars, as there are quite a few in Madrid. We found Oscár Roof Terrace and decided to sample a few of their cocktails. It’s located on top of the RoomMate hotel called Oscar’s, with the pool area being turned into a cocktail lounge at night.
We found that after having drinks here, a lot of places were starting to shut for the night. We headed down a side street and found a little bar tucked away. I can’t remember the name, but they did lovely cocktails. We called it a night after finishing our cocktails, heading back to the hotel.
The morning of Day 3 rolled around, and this was our last full day in Madrid. We decided to head out for breakfast, choosing to go for the ever famous churros place in Madrid – Cocolateria San Gines. This is one of Madrid’s oldest chocolate shops and is open 24 hours a day for your churros fix. It’s located down a few side streets near to Puerto del Sol, and you can’t miss the green shutters. We were lucky enough to sit outside but had a bit of a wait as the place was so busy. I guess great minds think alike! This was the perfect breakfast, and we took our time eating and people watching before heading back to the hotel.
Now, we thought we would spend a few hours around the hotel’s rooftop pool before heading out afternoon/evening time.
One of the most random things happened during this time! We were relaxing around the pool, sitting on the edge, dipping our toes into the water and having a chat. My friend pointed out a man filming us, with me thinking it was a random guy with his mobile phone. Oh was I wrong! It was, in fact, an actual full-on cameraman making some form of documentary or news show! The presenter interviewed us about the pool and then got more shots of us in the pool. They even gave us a Go Pro to do some action shots! It was one of the most random things that have happened. We still don’t know what it was that they were filming and if it has been aired anywhere. So, if anyone spots a news piece about Hotel Santo Domingo I may be in it! Let me know if you find it, as I haven’t managed to thus far.
Still none the wiser of what had happened in the afternoon, we decided to head out for last-minute sightseeing. We also had to buy souvenirs of our trip. You can’t beat a fridge magnet, can you?
Looking at our list of things to see we realised that we hadn’t visited the Royal Palace yet. A short walk later with the help of Google Maps had us in the grounds of the palace. What a stunning building it is! Apparently, this is still the official residence of the Spanish Royal family. They actually live in a more modest palace on the outskirts of Madrid however. The palace is more used for state ceremonies, as well as tours for those who would like, costing around €10.
Temple of Debod
From here, we decided to find The Temple of Debod. This is an ancient Egyptian temple that was donated to Spain, following their help in saving another temple (Abu Simbel). The temple is just a short walk from the palace in the West Park. It was opened to the public in 1972. The temple was shut, so we didn’t get the chance to have a look around the inside. It wasn’t all bad though, as we rounded the corner to discover beautiful views of Madrid. How magical does the view of the Royal Palace look?
The sightseeing had made us hungry so decided to go for something to eat, choosing Steakburger restaurant located on the Gran Via. The food was lovely here, with me and one of the girls sharing 1Kg of steak! The steak had a bit more fat on it than meat, so was not as filling as it looked. We also indulged in a very yummy chocolate dessert to finish. The frozen cocktail we had was a bit of a letdown, with the daiquiri being plain rather than flavoured. I’ve never had a plain daiquiri before, and all I could taste was salt. I don’t know if this is normal?! But I really wasn’t a fan of having a drink that was like drinking seawater. It didn’t ruin the meal for us though and was just a perfect end to an already weird day.
To finish the trip we thought we would go catch the sunset up on one of Madrid’s most famous rooftop bars Circulo de Bellas Artes. Unfortunately, the place was closed for a private event, which was a bit annoying, however, we did then get to discover Terrace Cibeles. This is on the sixth floor of the Palacio de Cibeles and has great views of the Gran Via. We stayed here for a cocktail and waited for the much anticipated Madrid sunset.
To finish the night we went in search of a few more bars. It was a late night even though we were up early for our flight. That’s the whole fun of being n holiday though, isn’t it?
We had a great time in Madrid, and there are loads of other things that we could have done. There is just never enough time in the day to visit everywhere, but that gives us an excuse to return.
Have you been to Madrid?
Thanks for reading!
Before you go, why not take a look at my Madrid Vlog?