A Weekend Away | Madrid, Spain

A Weekend Away | Madrid, Spain

With W’s shared parental leave being in full swing, it seemed silly to not take advantage by heading away for a couple of days. Regular readers will know that I am a teacher. As such our holidays are constrained by school holidays. So this was a great opportunity to get away out of peak time. If we were millionaires we would have headed somewhere like New Zealand for six weeks. But we are not millionaires! Taking into account the weather we decided we wanted to go somewhere slightly warmer. Madrid seemed the ideal destination. Not too far from the UK, numerous flights a day, good weather, nice hotels and excellent food.

 

Flights

We managed to snag a good deal with British Airways that combined both flights and hotel. I have spoken before about W’s “hobby” of collecting frequent flyer airline miles. Once again this mad hobby worked to our advantage as we were able to upgrade our flights to business class. Sure business class for a two-hour flight is rather extravagant but it only cost us £18 {plus some air miles}.

 

Hotel

Typically I tend to stick to major brands when booking hotels, in particular in Europe where the standard of independent hotels can be questionable. Having said that I do a fair amount of research. If a hotel is featured by someone like Kiwi Collection or Virtuoso then I will take a look even if it is independent. Mr & Mrs Smith is another brand I always look at. We have stayed in a couple of Mr & Mr Smith featured hotels and always had great stays. Although be careful as Mr & Mrs Smith hotels are traditionally geared towards couples, so make sure you check out their family page when booking.

We saw the Urso Hotel featured on Mr & Mrs Smith and it had good reviews. Whilst Mr & Mrs Smith imply the hotel is for adults only, a quick check online showed that wasn’t the case. We requested a cot for Bump directly with the hotel who were super helpful.

The hotel was really great. The staff so friendly, nothing was too much trouble. In fact it got a little embarrassing when the staff would all sprint over to us to help lift the buggy up the steps into the hotel. The room was large and airy and had enough room for the three of us. When we arrived in the room the hotel had set up a cot with some goodies for Bump {a natural sponge and baby friendly toiletries} sadly we couldn’t make use of the cute duvet and pillow in the cot.

Slightly disappointing was that whilst we booked a superior room, it was clear that we just got a bog standard room. Not sure how that happened. We also didn’t get the Mr & Mrs Smith extra {which was a welcome drink} and the service in the hotel lobby restaurant/bar was incredibly slow.

Those points aside, the hotel was top notch. Very boutique, smelled lovely {odd thing to notice but it did} and the staff were brilliant. Whilst we didn’t see any other children during our stay, the staff went out of their way to make Bump feel welcomed! The location of the hotel was perfect for us also, it wasn’t right in the hustle and bustle of the city but close enough that we could be at the major sites in 5-10 minutes.

 

How we spent our Madrid days

Whilst Madrid doesn’t have a uniquely identifiable major attraction it does have some amazing buildings and some fantastic art. I was really excited, for example, to see La Guernica.

On the first after we got out bearings. We basically followed a walking tour of central Madrid that W had found online. Lunch was had at the San Miguel Food Market. With hindsight, our decision to visit the market at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon was bad one! It was crowded to the point of being overcrowded and wheeling a buggy around was not much fun. We did manage to grab a couple of nice bits but felt the experience would have been better at a quieter time. We then headed over to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and ended up by having churros at Chocolatería San Ginés. Devine! We had a slow walk back to the hotel before deciding that we would eat in the hotel for the evening so that we didn’t really disturb Bump’s routine.

Our second day was spent attempting to be Madrileños, we headed to the El Rastro flea market. This is the place that the locals {and lots of tourists} all head on a Sunday. To be fair, I think we are coming to realise after our experience at a similar flea market in Washington D.C. that really these markets aren’t all they are cracked up to be. After a brief battle with the crowds we decided to head to an amazing little local tapas bar that W had read about. The food was to die for, the atmosphere was fantastic and the locals were soooo lovely. The afternoon was spent at the Museo Reina Sofia viewing art and making Bump laugh hysterically. I also managed to see La Guernica, what an incredibly moving and stunning piece of art.

We wandered the streets of Salamanca on our final morning.  The streets were really quiet for a Monday. We dived in and out of cute little shops and spent a lot of time in Zara Home lusting after their latest collection {which is sooo much cheaper than in the UK}. We had lunch at a wonderful food hall called Mallorca before we caught the metro back to the airport.

I will let the photos do the talking for now. Do click here if you want to zoom past the pictures and read my top tips for traveling with a six month old baby.

 

 

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