One-off boutiques and vintage fashion in boho barrio.
This is fast changing from hippy central to one of Madrid’s trendiest areas. It has always been a major nightlife area, but now it is pretty interesting during the day too, with funky shops and cafes opening up all the time.
This is the area between around Plaza Dos de Mayo, between Calle Fuencarral and Calle San Bernardo. The liveliest streets for shopping are Corredera Alta de San Pablo, Calle Espiritu Santo, Calle Manuela Malasaña, Calle Divino Pastor and cross streets.
On Calle Manuela Malasaña, Delishoes (at 21) is a must for designer Italian shoes, whether you want towering heels or some nicely cushioned sandals. Damas y Espejos (at 29) combines designer clothes with fairtrade fashion and accessories from Vietnam and Cambodia. Popland (at 24, www.popland.es) sells a mindboggling array of pop-inspired stuff, including t-shirts, posters and toys.
Antigua Casa Crespo (Divino Pastor 29, www.antiguacasacrespo.com), which was founded in 1865 and is still family run, is a lovely traditional shop that specialises in espadrilles of every description.
If you’re looking for something unusual, Moskitas Muertas (Corredera Alta de San Pablo 33, www.moskitasmuertas.com) has some great costume jewellery as well as shoes, bags and adult and baby clothes, all designed by the owners of the shop or by selected groovy labels. On the Plaza de San Ildefonso, Nest (at 3) is run by Nadine Walker, from the UK and is a good hunting ground for gifts and cards.
The lower part of the neighbourhood, just north of the Gran Via, has been rebranded Triball – referring to the triangle between Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo and Calle Valverde, below Plaza de San Ildefonso. Calle Pez is part of this renaissance too. While these streets are still looking pretty scruffy – particularly the closer you get to the Gran Via - the situation is looking ever more positive as new places open. Give it a couple of years, and this area will be totally gentrified.
Fashion lovers will be in heaven at Maria Escote by Le Swing (Corredera Baja de San Pablo 47, www.leswingvintage.com). One-off pieces by Maria Escote herself hang alongside vintage clothes in an ultra-girly shop, where labels might include Sonia Rykiel or Christian Dior. La Maison de La Lanterne Rouge (Calle Ballesta 4) used to be a rather dubious bar – and the original décor is still there, complete with a fabulous red velvet bar - but now stocks the work of various emerging designers, along with clothes and accessories from the Far East.
On Calle Loreto y Chicote, don’t miss El Beso (at 9), which is run by a couple of young designers and stocks their own lines plus all sorts of quirky accessories and objects. There is often an exhibition or other cultural event going on in the shop too. Next door, have a look in the boutique and showroom opend by Anjara Garcia, a designer from Seville who creates beautifully feminine clothes in natural fabrics (at 7, www.anjara.com).
Where to stay
I've recommended two of my favourite hotels, you'll find them 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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