Arguably the liveliest city in the whole of mainland Spain, Madrid is brimming over with bars and lounges to suit all styles, tastes and budgets. There, partying really is a way of life, so it goes without saying that the cosmopolitan capital has its fair share of top quality night spots.
Due to the laid-back lifestyle of the locals, bars and lounges in Madrid tend to not get going until around midnight, so if you’re looking for a quiet evening, make sure you get there before. On the other hand, if you want a heady experience and the opportunity to mix amongst the locals take a leisurely siesta in the afternoon and don’t bother leaving your accommodation until 11pm.
The prominent influx of international travelers and university students have helped maintain Madrid’s reputation for being one of the best places for nightlife in the country. And whilst the big nightclubs might take center stage when it comes to the best music, there are plenty of other bars and lounges ideal for enjoying a drink whilst watching a show or chatting with friends.
If you’re planning on visiting the Spanish capital soon and want to know which bars and lounges are worth their weight in gold, here’s our pick of the best:
A trip to Madrid wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the city’s signature Flamenco bars and Cardamomo is without a doubt one of the best. With performances held on every single night of the week, this trendy bar is almost always full, so make sure you get there when the doors open if you want to be sure of a good seat.
When you enter, you’ll be immersed in a rustic, traditional Spanish atmosphere which sets the scene perfectly for the entertainment which will later take place. Behind the unassuming bar there’s a huge range of drinks available, with everything from local and international beers, wines and champagnes to cocktails, mixed drinks and coffees which are priced at what you’d expect for a bar with live entertainment.
After getting your drink you’ll need to shuffle amongst a mixture of mainly Spanish locals in order to make your way to your table. Don’t be too eager to elbow someone out of the way to get to your seat, though – the tables are so tightly packed here that you could end up sitting right next to them for the entire evening.
The tables are staggered so that everyone can enjoy a view of the stage as wonderfully-dressed señores and beautifully-costumed señoritas show off their mesmerizing moves to the tune of powerful music provided by a talented singer and guitarist duo in the background.
When it comes to a unique venue, it’s tough to beat Chapandaz. This popular bar is one of the many cave bars which sprung up all over Madrid several years ago and hasn’t changed its décor since. Although not genuinely located inside a grotto, the interior is so spectacularly decorated that you’ll be pushed to convince yourself otherwise.
Propped up by muddy-colored rocky pillars, the ceiling features numerous stalactites which frame lantern-filled crevices that, together with ancient-looking gas lamp-style lights, create somewhat of a romantic yet eerie atmosphere. Despite the dark and mysterious surroundings, Chapandaz never fails to have a happy and upbeat mood, as strings of local and international visitors cram themselves inside the well-known bar for a top night out.
After the unique décor, the bar is most famous for serving superb value-for-money drinks, their specialty being fish bowl-sized cocktails which you can enjoy for less than the price of a regular cocktail in some of Madrid’s more prestigious bars.
In addition to cocktails, Capandaz also offers reasonably priced beers and mixed drinks, with their signature tipple being Leche Pantera, or ‘Panther Milk’ in English. Much more appealing than its name suggests, this concoction is a temping combo of gin and cinnamon which is blended together with a stream of milk that flows directly out of the artificial rocks in the bar’s ceiling.
The Penthouse, Sol
If exclusivity, class and sophistication are three things you look for when selecting a lounge in which to spend the evening, the Penthouse is definitely for you. Found on the very top floor of Hotel ME, this bar provides a venue unlike any other in the form of a roof-top terrace which is only open during the summer months. Peppered with stylish shades to keep the sun off during the day and keep the heat in during an evening, the terrace awards visitors with breathtaking views across the night sky, making it the perfect location for a date night or a special celebration.
As you can imagine, it’s not easy to get into somewhere as prestigious as the Penthouse, so you’ll need to be prepared. Formal attire – blazers for men, cocktail dresses for women and suitable shoes for both – is a must, as is waiting in a lengthy queue, unless you’re able to sweet talk the doorman into letting you slip by.
Even if you do have to wait in a queue, it’s certainly worth the effort to get into the Penthouse. Popular with money-loaded youths, trendy fashionistas and even the occasional celebrity, there’s a fairly good chance of you spotting a famous face somewhere amongst the crowd whilst you’re here. Although with such a beautiful cityscape stretching out below you, an internationally-renowned star could easily walk by and you’d miss them completely, lost in the staggering beauty that is Madrid by night.
Such a top notch location comes with an equally high price and since there is no entry fee, you’re going to be hit with the drinks. Whilst you’ll find almost any drink you can imagine here, the prices might leave you feeling a bit shocked, so best save it for a special occasion unless you can afford to splash out regularly.
Del Diego, Malasaña
Known for its dignified décor, refined service and stylish crowd, it might seem bizarre to describe this venue as laid-back and casual, but that’s what Del Diego is. In spite of what appearances would have you believe, this bar is regularly frequented by a mixture of locals and international visitors who want all the benefits of an upscale location without the hassle of having to dress over the top or pay over the odds for it.
A sophisticated steel sign placed on a sober stone wall marks the front of the bar and gives way to ultra shiny wooden floors and dim orange lights which set the scene inside. The soft jazz and funk music add to the chilled out atmosphere, whilst waiters dressed in matching tuxedos give you the impression you’re in a fancy restaurant. It’s confusing, but it works.
Del Diego is a cocktail lover’s dream, with an extensive menu covering every possible combination that could ever spring to mind. In the extremely unlikely event that they don’t have the cocktail of your choice on the menu, the bartenders will be more than happy to oblige, even when the bar is full to the brim of patrons – there’s always time for excellent service here.
The tuxedo-clad bartenders don’t just look the part – they can put on an amazing show, too, and if you order one of their many cocktails, you’ll have the chance to see it. With glass bottles spinning on elbows, ice cubes flying through the air and drinks being poured into glasses at the other end of the bar, this cocktail show is one of the best in Madrid, making it a must during your visit to the capital.
Mauna Loa, Sol
In the unlikely event that cosmopolitan city life in Madrid is lacking a bit of color for you, you can always head to Mauna Loa for a sweet taste of Hawaii. Boasting a prime location on Plaza de Santa Ana, the outside of this venue is outlandishly decorated with authentic-looking bamboo shutters and dried grass awnings, making it almost impossible to walk by without taking a second glance.
If you thought the outside was impressive, the inside of Mauna Loa will truly blow you away. As you walk through the door, the sounds of tropical birds will welcome you, whilst lush plants, bright flowers and colored lights will pull your attention in another direction with every step you take. Whilst this part of the bar is certainly outstanding, it’s nothing compared to the downstairs area. Here you’ll find a network of staircases and cave-themed rooms which lead you into what appears to be the belly of a volcano.
Known as the best place in the city for tropical drinks, Mauna Loa specializes in vibrant cocktails made with an almost never-ending selection of exotic fruit juices. Whilst you could spend hours agonizing over the extensive menu, the Fuerte Volcanoes cocktail is a must-try. Made for two to eight people to share, this famous cocktail is served inside a mini smoking volcano and is designed to be slowly sipped through long straws.
So whether your perfect evening involves cheap drinks, rubbing shoulders with Madrid’s socialites or immersing yourself into a different culture, this city has such a huge variety of nightlife venues that there really is something to suit each and every traveler fortunate to spend at least one night in the capital.