Insider tips: Madrid

Insider tips: Madrid

Three-time winner of the British Fashion Council’s NewGen award and highly respected womenswear designer Emilio de la Morena most recently showcased his latest collection at London Fashion Week. Having studied sculpture in Spain before starting his fashion career, Emilio’s designs are heavily influenced by architecture and art. He uses angular shapes, origami folds and bold cut outs to create traditional garments with an abstract twist. We asked Emilio to share some of his favourite things about Madrid…

What makes Madrid special for you?
The first time I visited the city I was thrilled by it regal architecture, its big avenues and grand buildings. I love walking though Plaza Mayor; it feels like stepping back in time. I often spend time in the barrio of La Latina, enjoying the lively vibe and good weather over a beer on one of their terraces. A visit to el Rastro flea market is a must; I’ve found some amazing things there.

What are your favourite shops?
I always like going into Sybilla, she’s an inspiring Spanish designer. Corachan y Delgado is fantastic for vintage pieces. At Mercado de San Miguel you can find incredible food and books. For modern homeware Vincon is impressive; for traditional homeware and haberdashery I got to Almacen de Pontejos it represents the ‘real Madrid’ and has stood the test of time. I have discovered a great designer at 9 Velazquez: Elena Canter. We share the same passion for sculpture, and she makes unique jewellery.

What are your favourite hotels in the city?
The AC Santo Mauro in Almagro is one of my favourites for its design, tranquillity and discretion. The former library is now a fantastic restaurant and there’s an outstanding view from the terrace. It’s a favourite among Spanish designers. I also like ME Madrid, a hotel on Plaza de Santa Ana in Huertas with a cool roof garden. To relax I go to Chi Spa.

If you only had one day in Madrid what would you do and where would you go?
Spend the morning visiting the galleries in La Castellana. Start at the Thyssen-Bornemisza, followed by the Prado, then the Reina Sofia. Have a coffee in Antigua Estacion de Atocha, the 19th century train station that has been turned into an extraordinary tropical garden and is unlike anywhere else in the world. Then walk through the back streets to La Latina, stopping off for a cold beer and lunch in any of the traditional tapas bars. A bit of shopping on Calle de Serrano, a drink in Huertas, and, if you’re in the mood, some clubbing.

What restaurants would you not miss out on if you were going to Madrid?
The aromas of food emanating from every bar and restaurant always reminds me of childhood and my grandmother’s stews. There are some great places around Calle del Almirante such as Cafe Oliver and La Buena Vida, and in the Lavapies district there’s Guadeamus Cafe. My favourite place is 3 Gongoras in Chueca; it is one of the most amazing spaces, great for drinks and brunch. I also love Bodega de la Ardosa, which does the best tapas and El Bocaito a favourite of film director Pedro Almodovar, for its excellent traditional food.

Interview by Rodrigo Diaz; published in the April 2011 issue of Conde Nast Traveller

Read our essential guide to Madrid

Check out our gallery of great tapas restaurants to try in Madrid

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