Six ways to live the high life in Madrid

Whether it’s hiring your own personal shopper or indulging in a luxurious massage, why not live it up in Spain’s capital, Madrid?

From private tours and luxury suites to indulgent spas and shopping ’til you drop, this is how you do Madrid like royalty.

1. Pamper up at Hammam Al Andalus

Respect the rules of silence as you enter this restored traditional Arabic bath, with three pools assorted temperatures hot, warm and cold. The arched stone roofs and aromatic rooms bring an overwhelming sense of serenity, even more so when you treat yourself to the full works: a traditional scrub with kessa (exfoliating glove), bath and hot stone massage. Sip fresh mint tea as you luxuriate in the calming ambience – its just enough to re-energise you for Madrid’s lively streets.

2. Take a private tour of Museo del Prado

If you don’t want the crowds to interfere with your experience of one of the world’s greatest art collections, opt for your own private tour at Museo del Prado. Your expert art guide will give you the secrets behind the masterpieces, and analysis of painting techniques. You could request more time in your own favourite genre. It certainly beats craning your neck to catch a glimpse of Goyas and El Grecos. Ask your concierge to help to arrange a tour.

3. Get the best seat in the house at the opera

For a taste of some high class drama, get a box seat for opera at Teatro Real, considered one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses. It’s had a century of ups and downs including complete re-modelling and refurbishment, completed in 1997but now thankfully it’s on the up and up. You’ll get to see topclass soloists, orchestras and choruses, with performances from Rossini’s Barber of Seville to a more cuttingedge Brokeback Mountain, with world premieres galore. The red and gold décor is opulent on a grand scale; treat yourself to a box seat and enjoy the drama.

4. Soak up the luxury at the Ritz

Or, to give it its full name, the Hotel Ritz By Belmond. This opulent fivestar hotel was opened by King Alfonso XIII at the turn of the 20th century, to rival the Ritz in London and Paris. It’s the epitome of luxury especially the Royal Suite, with its oversized bathrooms, crystal chandeliers and marble fireplaces. If your credit card doesn’t quite stretch to that, experience the restaurant with its flawless dining experience in oldworld opulence, or perhaps just a decadent afternoon tea in the salon.

5. Hire your own personal shopper

From hip and retro to out-and-about luxury, Madrid’s shops incorporate the capital’s own impressive array of homegrown designers, vintage shops and luxury department stores. The affluent Salamanca neighbourhood is a good place to start and Calle de Serrano is one of Spain’s most exclusive streets. But to find your own Madrid goodies, why not hire a personal shopper? They will guide you round the shopping streets, handpick the best styles for you or help with items on your wish list, whether it’s where to buy the best flamenco shoes, handcarved antiques in El Rastro.

6. Cook like a Michelinstarred chef

Madrid boasts some starstudded kitchens; top chefs who are transforming the city’s dining scene. Forget the traditional tapasalthough we wouldn’t want to forget them for longbut think fusion and contemporary European risktaking dishes. You can get a taste of that culinary magic, and maybe try to be the next Ferran Adria or Elena Arzak by taking an exclusive cookery course from top chefs. The Kitchen Club has regular courses, see what whets your appetite.

This story by Emma Levine first appeared on

More stories on Madrid from Where Traveler:
· Essential Madrid: Travel Tips for Your First Trip
· How to Enjoy Madrid Like a Local
· Newcomers Guide to Tapas in Madrid
· Madrid: How to Arrive and Get Around

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