Madrid – Sol – Eating and Staying on Gran Via
This is a post primarily for my work colleagues.
My employer usually puts us up at the Hotel Catalonia in Barrio Salamanca but when it’s full we are sent to the Gran Via branch instead (7-9 Gran Via, www.hoteles-catalonia.com).
The hotel is fine (breakfast, staff, wi-fi all good) and the rooms at the back (such as 632) have private balconies with high walls.
I much prefer being here as you’re right next to Chueca on one side of Gran Via and the barrio of Puerta del Sol on the other, so there’s lots to see and do on your doorstep.
However be warned that some of my older colleagues have been mugged on the back streets around here so our managers would rather place us in boring but safe Salamanca. The area is also associated with prostitution, especially at the Gran Via end of Calle de La Montera and on Calle de la Ballesta and its side streets (known as Tri Ball).
Gourmet Experience Gran Vía (High Intermediate B), Floor 9, El Corte Inglés department store, 2 Plaza de Callao, www.elcorteingles.es
When it opened in 2014 there was a lot of hype about this gourmet food court on the top floor of the Callao branch of El Corte Inglés (the Spanish equivalent to John Lewis).
There are two reasons people come here; the food and the view.
I can’t say I’m particularly enamoured with either. I’m sure there are good things to eat if you know what to order but nothing I saw on display grabbed me, so I settled for a boring old salad from La Maquina (B-). I paid €8.50 for the Ensalada La Maquina and €3.50 for a large beer which is a bit pricey.
The view is okay (better at sunset) but I prefer the views from the rooftop of the Hotel Emperador (see my other Gran Via post) or Círculo de Bellas Artes on Calle Alcala. I’d come here if I was shopping in the department store below but I don’t think it’s worth making a special journey.
The restaurant over the street from the hotel is okay albeit rather bland and generic.
Natura (Intermediate C+), 16 Gran Via
I went for a quick lunch one day and had the Menu Quilombo (their Menu del Dia) for €10.90. For this I got a plate of couscous mixed with grapes (B).
And ternera (veal) with mushrooms in a modern presentation (B-).
The price included a rice pudding and a bottle of water, which is pretty reasonable for the amount you pay. However, the service was rather abrupt and lacking in motivation.
Should you have more time, there are plenty of good places just a short walk away. For unbelievably cheap (actually free) tapas you could go to the legendary El Tigre in Chueca which is very near (see separate post).
There are other places around Gran Via and Tri Ball. Las Cortes also has heaps of options. Click on the names to see my reviews.
Immediately opposite the hotel is Museo Chicote, Madrid’s most famous cocktail bar. Hemingway spent a lot of time here sheltering from the civil war. Nowadays you need to be dressed quite smartly to get in (i.e. no jeans, trainers). The Mercado de la Reina tapas bar and restaurant next door is an associated business but I haven’t tried it.
Please also see my separate post on swimming and architecture on Gran Via.