If you’ve just touched down in Madrid, and your grasp on the Spanish language is limited, one phrase may still stand out amongst the rest: “Qué Calor!” (It’s so hot!).
Madrid is currently in the midst of a heat wave, but the truth is, the standard summer in the Spanish capital is usually a pretty hot affair. As you walk down the steaming streets, passing Spanish señoras fluttering handheld fans and hordes of Madrileño youngsters licking ice creams, you may be hoping for an oasis to materialise on the shimmering horizon.
You’re in luck. In recent years, the city has begun reclaiming its rooftop realm as a way to escape the heat and commotion on the ground. A combination of hotels and daring entrepreneurs are leading the push, creating a network of towering bars and restaurants that have become instant hits. If you’re looking for the perfect vantage point to catch the summer breeze, sip on a delicious cocktail, or simply laze around into the night, all you need to do is look up.
Rooftop 01: Gymage Lounge Resort
Calle de la Luna 2
Once an abandoned cinema, this building in Malasaña has been revitalised by a group of young, determined entrepreneurs. The complex is now a thriving gym, theatre-restaurant and health and beauty centre, but the most coveted space is up on the roof where a bar, restaurant, and small solarium with a pool attract hordes of attractive locals. If you’re looking to embrace the summer heat – make a day of it. Head up to the restaurant for the delicious ‘Menú del Dia’ (set lunch menu) and then pay a small fee to laze by the pool and work on your tan – cocktail in hand, of course.
Rooftop 02: Tartan Roof
Calle del Marques de Casa Riera 2
People once paid a small fee just for the privilege of the beautiful 360º vista from the Círculo de Bellas Artes building. However, it was only in 2013 that a group of visionary entrepreneurs enlisted local design studio Cuarto Interior to refit the rooftop to include a comfortable bar and well-appointed restaurant. You still need to pay a small fee to get up there and should probably arrive before the sunset to avoid the queue, but once you’ve secured your coveted spot, order a mojito and marvel at the panoramic view of Madrid’s red-tiled rooftops – you’ve got one of the best seats in town.
Rooftop 03: The Hat
Address: Calle Imperial 9
One of the newest trends in Madrid’s accommodation sector is the up-market hostel. Younger travelers have higher standards than ever and the forces behind The Hat (just a short walk from Plaza Mayor) have responded to this demand by creating their beautifully designed and well-located hostel. The rooftop bar and restaurant is open to the public and includes both an interior and exterior space. Grab yourself a seat, order a drink with a pincho de tortilla (a serving of Spanish omelette) and spark up a conversation with the neighbouring table – the atmosphere here is suitably familiar and friendly.
Rooftop 04: The Principal
Calle Marqués de Valdeiglesias 1
If you’re looking to lap up a touch of luxury, The Principal hotel should be at the top of your to-do list. The hoteliers behind the high-end Hotel Único opened The Principal in 2014 after an ambitious renovation effort just a few steps from the beginning of Gran Vía. The restaurant run by the talented chef Ramón Freixa has beautiful views of the iconic Metrópolis building, while up above, the split-level rooftop is a stylish affair with sweeping city views.
Rooftop 05: Hotel Óscar
Plaza de Vázquez de Mella 12
This azotea (rooftop) is hardly new, but after a renovation, it recently opened anew. The Room Mate hotel group is renowned for friendly service and style, and these qualities are on full display in their flagship Hotel Oscar. If you’d like to lounge on a sun-bed by the small pool during the day, you will have to pay for it (although it’s worth it if you intend on staying for a few hours), but the space opens up after 6pm as a fashionable spot to sip on an iced drink and watch the sun set over the Sierra de Guadarrama in the distance. This is a Sunday evening must.