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The Five Best Spots in Malasaña

Although recent years have seen the emergence of carefully crafted designer nightspots, the district still features a number of premium locales with a magnetic pull that makes them a meeting point de rigueur by night. The fact is that Malasaña, in the very heart of the capital, has always thronged with a broad array of leisure spaces. It peaked during the golden years of La Movida, when nightspots that triggered an epoch-making eighties’ scene started springing up along the calle Manuela Malasaña.

Here is a selection of five of the best places for having a drink in the old Maravillas quarter:

Madklyn

Hard by the Plaza 2 de Mayo square we find this musical haven with an aftertaste of times gone by. The Madklyn is not a particularly large space, so at night it can fill to bursting. Prominent is its glittering, silvery ceiling, which gives a nod to the metal of Brooklyn Bridge. The decor is retro, reminiscent of the golden age of bars with pinball machines. Saturdays see a special session at aperitif time. Gee! Don’t fail to try their bean tapas, the speciality of the house. And, don’t miss out on their “blackout” sessions delivered by the resident DJ, Mighty Caesar!

Picnic Bar

Picnic bar has been a hit for some time and this means that, every time you go there, it is like having to pick your way through a mass of dense marsh foliage. This is a meeting point for Madrid actors, comedians, musicians and hipsters. The service is excellent and their cocktails are among the best in town. It is distributed on two storeys – street level and basement – both of which have warm lighting and vintage decor, with red dominant. A classic feature is their fabulous armchairs, ideal for enjoying a comfortable chat.

1862 Dry Bar

This locale has just won the FIBAR award as Best Bar of 2014, and it is certainly one of the most exquisite spaces in the district. They specialise in classic cocktails, but also strike out into more contemporary offerings. Set on two floors, the main one, at street level, has very high ceilings and a well-balanced decor with touches of Art Deco, with the emphasis on the wine rack, of course. On the lower floor they have created a cosier atmosphere, with comfortable burgundy-coloured couches and a warmer lighting. It resembles a small boîte, with its own bar counter. One striking note is the caged and highly visible wine cellar, with an air resembling that of an old sailing vessel.

Juanita Banana

At number 3 Calle Estrella lies another of the must-see places in Malasaña. This is Juanita Banana, which belongs to the same group as Fabuloso, Coconot and Exótica. In common with these, its decor harks back to the nascent days of late-fifties rock, B movies and some of the clichés from early pop culture. The nice thing about this bar is that you can order apincho while you’re sipping at a cocktail. Or, if you prefer, you can taste a shake. They are really delicious!

Costello Club

Costello Club is unquestionably one of the most emblematic saloons in Malasaña. Reliable sources claim that this is the unofficial bar and dance-hall of the music industry – if you play in a band, you have to perform here if you want to get anywhere. Its siting, right near the Gran Vía metro stop, is also very handy. The lower floor, which houses the Costello Dance Floor, usually hosts good concerts and performances. Celebrities such as Vetusta Morla, Russian Red, Last Shadow Puppets, DePedro, Tequila, Amaral, Nada Surf, Quique González and many others have graced its premises. The upper floor consists of the Costello Gold Lounge and the  private Chill Garden, where the privileged can listen to jazz, pop, bunge, downtempo and bossa nova.

Getting Your Strength Back

After many a drink, you are advised to stop off on your itinerary to replenish your energy. Here are two terrific recommendations. During the day, drop in on Naif, at number 16 Calle San Joaquín. This lively spot has an ambience that grows as the day marches on, adapting to the rhythm of the neighbourhood. Here there is no dearth of coffee, cakes and pastries for afternoon tea, and drinks and cocktails for the evening. The service is exquisite. Their salads and hamburgers are highly recommended and wonderfully priced. With the onset of spring, it is worth choosing a table outside in the Plaza de San Ildefonso. The atmosphere at weekends is spectacular and lasts practically until closing time, at 2.30 a.m. For dinner, make sure you head for Home Burger Bar, one of the city’s hamburger cathedrals. In effect, it was cited among the 50 best hamburger bars in the world in December last year.

Hurry up and discover Madrid’s vibrant scene – Check out our flights here.

Text & images by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

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