We had a fabulous time navigating the boulevards of Madrid, tapas-hopping (hello, croquetas), and eyeing the impeccably dressed locals. We even stayed up until 11pm and midnight with our daughter in tow (a true Spaniard)!
Based on a recommendation by my friend and travel writer, Jackie, we stayed at the Barcelo Emperatriz, which we loved. The team was quite friendly, the concierge had great recommendations for gathering a flavor of Madrid with a toddler, and plus they had bountiful products, a decadent bed, and a sweet rooftop pool with a champagne bar. The hotel was located right off Calle de Serrano, the Fifth Avenue of the city, and it was easy to stroll our way down to the expansive and gorgeous El Retiro Park and the Prado.
We ended up walking all over the city and also explored neighborhoods like La Latina and the famed street Calle Cava Baja, literally eating our way through the various styles of salty, pork croquetas, and of course, sipped (or gulped) down various vinos. Some of our highlights included Txakolito, Tempranillo, and Casa Luca for tapas, the famed churros at San Gines, and exploring the San Antonio mercato. Pez Tortilla also had amazing egg tortillas and fries.
We fell in love with tinto de verano, a beverage akin to sangria, but with a bit of fizz. I often ordered this or vermouth as an aperatif before diving into an assortment of hams, cheeses, and seafood. We had one of the best meals of our life in Madrid, which I will write about shortly.
In addition to food and wine, the city of Madrid is quite stylish and beautiful. We would see new mothers gingerly pushing their prams, dressed in heels and older grandmas with their hair done and ready to roll. Pretty plazas dotted with outdoor cafes and sinuous streets created various paths, and every turn offered a new view or perspective of this magical city.