Oh-so-cool neighbourhood packed with funky boutiques.
To get an instant idea of what people are wearing in Madrid this season, join the throng strolling up Calle Fuencarral from the Gran Via. The trendification of the street began with the Mercado de Fuencarral (at 45), which houses a couple of dozen one-off shops. Strangely, the market seems to have got a bit left behind and is now looking a bit hippyish and stale.
The pedestrianised street is lined with shops including Camper, Geox, Kiehls, Korres, Muji, Mango, Mac and U, which is the younger diffusion line of Adolfo Dominguez (at 5). Fun&Basic (at 43, www.funbasics.com) and Misako (www.misako.cat) are handy if you happen to overdo the retail therapy and urgently need a larger bag. For funky trainers at reasonable prices, head for the Brazilian brand Maz Zapatilla (at 67, www.mazworld.info).
Just off Calle Fuencarral, don’t miss Loreak Mendian (Santa Barbara 4, www.loreakmendian.com) for fun fashion from the Basque designers Victor Serna and Xabi Zirikiain, or Vialis (Colon 3, www.vialis.es) for fab clogs and other shoes.
Plaza de Chueca
The outlet shop L’Habilleur (Plaza de Chueca 8) has zoomed in from Le Marais in Paris and stocks Plein Sud, Dirk Bikkemberg and Antik Batik. Just off the square, Salvador Bachiller (Gravina 11) is another great outlet, this time for bags and luggage, with expensive-looking design at bargain prices.
Have a quick beer in the lovely old bar Angel Sierra, then have a look at Davidelfin opposite (San Gregorio 1), the outlet shop of one of Spain’s hottest designers at the moment. Around the corner, El Tintero (Gravina 5, www.eltintero.es) specialises in t-shirts with silkscreened logos for adults and children, which make fantastic gifts.
Calle Augusto Figueroa is lined with outlet shoe shops. Worth a look, but don’t expect knockdown prices. Super cool Isolee (Infantas 19, www.isolee.com) was a pioneer of the new wave of Chueca shops. It not only sells chic clothes, accessories, books and other covetable things, but is also a delicatessen.
On Calle Hernán Cortés, Lotta (at 9) is a treasure chest of new clothes from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Nearby, Vintage Madrid (at 14, www.vintage-madrid.com) stocks pieces by big-name designers including Prada, Valentino and YSL. They also have their own line, Arte Para Vestir, of hand-painted shoes and bags.
The area beyond Calle Barquillo, around Calle Almirante, is known as Las Salesas, after the church of that name on Calle Barbara de Braganza. The vibe here is upmarket fashionista, with smart bars and restaurants interspersed with the boutiques.
Calle Piamonte is an unassuming, narrow street that runs parallel to Calle Almirante and is now home to some seriously good boutiques. It was the shop actually called Piamonte (Piamonte 16, www.piamonteshop.com) that got the ball rolling with its exquisite bags and shoes. Baccana (Piamonte 10, www.baccana.com) is also good for stylish accessories and shoes. To see some of the most interesting Spanish designers, such as Miriam Ocariz and Josep Font, in one place, make for Proxima Parada (at 25).
There are a few outlet shops here too, including Gallery Stock (at 18), with past-season items from the main shop over in Calle Jorge Juan, often including Burberry, Jil Sander and Gucci. Amore y Psique (at 17) stocks discounted clothes by Italian labels such as Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli.
The Benny Room (Conde de Xiquena 17, http://bennyroommadrid.blogspot.com) is an essential shop to visit on this route, with feminine clothes by designers including Cacharel, See by Chloe and Eley Kishimoto. Across the road, have a look at Marc by Marc Jacobs (Marques de la Ensenada 2, www.marcjacobs.com) if you think your credit card can stand it.
Where to stay
I've recommended three of my favourite hotels, you'll find these in the Make it Happen box above. You can also see my full list of recommendations here - Madrid Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Madrid.
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