1. Hire a VIP Shopping Concierge
Luxury brand addicts travel from around the globe to experience Madrid’s legendary El Corte Ingles, a high-end department store that might best be described as “Harrods-on-steroids.” Though there are 87 outposts scattered throughout Spain and Portugal, El Corte Ingles’ Madrid flagship on Paseo de la Castellana is the unrivaled kingpin, with designer shop-in-shops like Hermes, Cartier, Gucci, Dior, Celine and Louis Vuitton, creating an atmosphere that’s akin to New York’s Fifth Avenue—in a single location. Of course, with that much territory to cover—one million square feet of retail space to be exact—shopping can prove to be an overwhelming experience. And that’s where El Corte Ingles’ personal shopping program comes in. The company (which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year) just unveiled a 200-square-foot, VIPs-only lounge at its flagship store where big spenders are treated to champagne, private fashion consultations and exclusive access to new designer collections.
2. Take a Private Tour of Goya’s Renowned Chapel
Get your cultural fix with a bespoke one-on-one tour of The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony of La Florida, a neoclassical building known for its stunning frescoes and domed ceilings painted by the illustrious Spanish artist Goya. Luxury travel agency Made for Spain and Portugal will hook you up with a local art expert to serve as your personal guide.
3. Score a Reservation at a High-Meets-Low Michelin Star Restaurant
With paper menus, bar stool seating, graffiti and pulsing music, StreetXO certainly doesn’t scream fine dining—and that’s exactly how Chef David Muñoz intended it. Muñoz, the only three-Michelin-star chef in Madrid, gives diners a truly unconventional experience at the Asian-inspired rooftop restaurant he calls “the Cirque du Soleil of gastronomy.” The meal is almost like performance art: diners eat at the bar and watch as chefs skillfully construct dishes including Korean lasagna with fried wontons, a club sandwich topped with a quail egg and a dressed-up baked potato smothered in cheese and raw tuna (a combination that is much more delicious than it sounds.) Luckily for Americans, Muñoz announced he’d be taking his talents stateside, with plans for a New York restaurant next year.
4. Sit Front Row at the City’s Top Flamenco Show
Ask anyone in Madrid where to find the best flamenco in the city and they’ll send you to Corral de la Moreria. It’s a dimly lit, cavernous space that has been a cultural institution since 1956; the dancers are so good, they will literally move you to tears. The King of Spain pops by on occasion, and the roster of A-list visitors includes Jennifer Aniston, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Hugh Grant and Demi Moore.
5. Book a Sprawling Suite in a Former Castle
Built on the grounds of a former Spanish Palace, Villa Magna lives up to its royal roots. The five-star property’s most exquisite room is unquestionably the Real Suite—reserve the penthouse-style pad and you’ll get two bedrooms, a grand piano, marble bathrooms, a steam room and a 1,292 square-foot terrace with uninterrupted views of the city.