Being one of the guilty few that did not have a good first impression of Madrid, I always kept trying to find that missing excitement of finding something new and wanting to share it with everyone. It took about 5 visits and two months into living here for me to find my home away from home in Madrid, I was about to give up hope because I could not seem to find the uniqueness that every other city seems to have.
I took it upon myself to start looking for reading cafe’s and cosy alternative bars where I can feel at home amongst the stress and busy life of the city.
LA Central – Bookshop Cafe
The first one I stumbled across completely by chance was LA Central, just one of the streets in busy Callao. The first thing you see as you enter is a beautiful layout of new recommended books and artsy fartsy novelty gifts, right next to the cafe area which is almost always extremely busy (with reason). The cafe is in a beautiful wooden space with an open display of some of their sweet treats and other baked goods. They offer a fantastic brunch menu but also smaller breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus. For any lover of tortilla I would recommend their breakfast offer of a slice of tortilla with toast and a coffee, as well as their delicious carrot and cheesecakes.
Going up the beautiful wooden staircase the architectural design of the building does not disappoint, the first floor consists of novels, children’s books and comics (as well as notebooks, gifts and other novelty items). The second floor is the more cultural one, consisting of books that specialise in philosophy, sociology, politics, art, poetry etc…
In the second floor they offer a small reading room where you can sit down, relax and read your book of choice.
This bookshop is definitely the perfect breather from the crowds and noise, you will most likely find yourself spending hours there without realising.
Restaurante Ojala – Cafe/Bar/Beach (yes)
We’ve all heard it a million times – Madrid does not have beaches, unfortunate but it has other things to offer, right? The owners of Restaurants Ojala were clearly aware of this issue and decided to create a beach right in the centre of Madrid.
Now, the cafe and the aesthetics of the place speak for themselves, every detail being cared for – bright yet calming colours, beautiful lighting, original pieces of woodwork and what you’ve been waiting to hear about, the beach.
The main floor of the bar is breathtakingly beautiful and original with two different seating areas, going down the stairs you will find two other whole seating areas where the floor is entirely covered in sand and everyone is sat in low cushioned seats. The atmosphere is relaxed yet sociable.
You would probably think that a place like this would have an elevated price range but out of many bars in Madrid this is very fairly priced, especially for the quality of the food and service. For 10 euros you can have a full brunch which they offer until 8pm (see the pictures below) with many options for all types of foodies, including vegetarians like me. They also have a range of sandwiches, soups, burgers, hummus, nachos and so on. If you’re looking for something different in the city of Madrid but also want to eat and drink like a queen (or king) then Ojala is a must do.
La Bicicleta – Cafe
This place is the perfect mix between a bar/pub and a workplace cafe, upstairs the quirky design concentrated around the bike theme will make you feel like a real city hipster, the upstairs area is usually very busy with people drinking at the bar and eating around the many tables. The downstairs area is more relaxed and spaced out which allows you to enjoy a good conversation or get some work done whilst trying some of their drinks or foods.
Fabrica Maravillas – Brewery
This quaint little bar found on the streets of Malasaña offers a diverse range of craft beers fresh from the tap. The indoor design has a Scandinavian minimalist vibe to it which definitely adds to the coolness of the place. I tried the chocolate stout beer which to my non-surprise was absolutely delicious, it hardly tasted like beer at all and had some subtle yet pleasing hints of coffee and caramel.