An October 2003 trip
to Madrid by Hal1026
Quote: Awash with monuments and structures that attest to the grandeur of its past, Madrid is also enthusiastically modern and natural. Greenery abounds; the city hums with a flow of humanity that takes as much time to savor the pleasures of life as it does to accomplish the practical aspects.
Hotel | "Hotel Lope de Vega"
Opened just a few years ago, the hotel is situated conveniently close not only to the Prado but a short walk also from the Thyssen-Bornemsiza Museum. Restaurants, tapas bars, shops and parks are also nearby. However, the premises of this recently opened hotel are pleasing, if somewhat small. I had a sixth floor room, which kept me far above traffic in a very quiet corner. The staff were excellent; the bellhop and concierge especially helpful and friendly. There is a small cafeteria onsite that does good lunches and breakfasts, but more likely than not you'll not be eating in. As to the de Vega connection, blending easily into the contemporary design of each room are illustrations from de Vega's various comedic works, and the guidebook provided on your desk has a description for the one in your room number, along with plenty of information on the major and artistic high points of Madrid. It's a distinct touch amidst all the sleek woods and muted colors. Put it this way: the hotel group which operates the premises, called Hoteles Culturales Tematicos ("Cultural Themed Hotels") has made the hi-tech effort with all the amenities along with internet connectivity in the lobby, while providing you a little extra connectivity to a cultural past they also take pride in. An unusual but certainly memorable Madrileno approach to 4-star accommodation.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 2, 2004
Lope De Vega Hotel
49 LOPE DE VEGA ST
Madrid, Spain 28014
34 91 3600011
Attraction | "El Retiro Park"
Once you have had an eyeful of museums like the nearby Prado or Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the weather is still too fine to ignore, spend the rest of the day walking or relaxing in the Retiro park. The Retiro is Madrid’s own intimate version of New York’s Central Park; it gives you a natural green glimpse of how this capital might have looked and felt during its days of glory as the center of an empire. If you are up for a long walk to take in this atmosphere, start from the Puerta del Sol and continue to the Plaza Mayor. Then make your way further to the Austrias neighborhood, and finally end up at the Plaza de Oriente, near the exterior of the Royal Palace. Another option for experiencing the Retiro is to access it for some outdoor exercise, as I was able to do since my hotel was only minutes away on the other side of the Paseo del Prado. Running here on even a cool October morning, you won’t be entirely alone as Madrilenos have the same idea too: in fact, runners are interspersed with the occasional bicyclist or skater taking advantage of the paved stretches.
If the pace you need is slower or you have young family members in tow, then consider a Sunday afternoon spent with much of the city, just promenading around the park, where kids are welcomed by life-size Mickey Mouses and characters from Winnie the Pooh. Keep the little ones and yourself enchanted with a rowing boat excursion out onto the centerpiece lake, then treat yourselves to at least one ice cream while strolling around the tree shaded gardens. Now, if your interests are more specialized, but just as leisurely, you might also consider a visit to the Botanical Garden of Madrid (Plaza Murillo, 2), located in front of the Prado, and designed in the neoclassic style and dating back to the eighteenth century. For even more relaxed pleasures in the Retiro, you can find yourself a table at the enclosed Florida Park for dinner or a drink while enjoying some fine Spanish ballet or flamenco Monday through Saturday evenings, 9pm to 3am.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 3, 2004
El Retiro/Buen Retiro Park
Near the Puerta de Alcalá
Attraction | "Museo Thyssen-Bornemiszza"
For detailed information on hours/activities/programs/visiting exhibits go to their website: www.museothyssen.org
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 3, 2004
Paseo Del Prado, 8
+1 34 91 3690151