Shopping in Madrid: the essential guide

Madrid de noche

Madrid is known for its tapas bars, art galleries and bullfighting, but increasing numbers of visitors are hitting up the Spanish capital in search of some of the best shopping in Europe.  From high-end labels to street markets and individual boutiques, all served up with a refreshingly laid-back attitude that you would never find in their London or Paris counterparts, here are Gusto Guides‘ picks of the best stores in Madrid.

Fashion

Over recent years, Madrid has been carving out a name for itself as something of a trailblazer in the fashion world: this is the city that banned underweight models from catwalks, and whose designers focus on health and (whisper it) having fun in the name of fashion.  Forget clothes that demand diets and mineral water.  Madrid’s designers want you to drink wine and dance on tables, all while looking a million dollars.

If you are looking for high fashion head to Calle Serrano (Metro Serrano), where all of the big brands are represented.  Here, you will also find some of Spain’s favourite home-grown luxury labels including Loewe, Bimba y Lola and Purificacion Garcia as well as all the usual suspects (Chanel, Saint Laurent and the rest).

For a more offbeat experience, head to the Malasaña area of the Madrid, where the neighbourhood’s rag-tag mixture of independent boutiques have a bohemian feel.  Head to Sin Clon Ni Son on Plaza 2 de Mayo for an eclectic selection of menswear, womenswear and accessories with a quirky edge.  If vintage shopping is your thing, head to El Templo de Susu (Calle del Espiritu Santo 1), where you can scoop up a real bargain.  Pepa Loves is a local success story selling girly pieces at reasonable prices – find branches at C/Loreto y Chicote and in the Mercado de Fuencarral (on Calle Fuencarral).

If you are a shoe lover in search of a bargain, head to C/Agusto Figueroa in the Chueca neighbourhood, where a number of brands have outlets.

Food

The Mercado de San Miguel (just next to the Plaza Mayor) and the recently-renovated Mercado San Anton in Chueca are both great places to stock up on fresh foods and artisan goodies, and have nice places to enjoy a quick tapa in among all of the shopping.  On the central Plaza del Sol, the busy bakery La Mallorquina is renowned for its almost-too-good-to-eat pastries, packed into lovely gift boxes.  Don’t miss the little cafe upstairs.

Books

Browsing at La Central – a bookshop that has been drafted into a wonderful Madrileño town house just off Callao – is a pleasure in itself.  They have a good selection of books in English and regular literary events, as well as opening until 10pm on certain nights.  Tipos Infames in Malasaña is a small bookshop with heaps of personality and that also sells wine (ideal!) – find it on Calle San Joaquin, 3.

Miscellaneous

For a traditional Spanish accessory, pop in to Casa de Diego on Plaza del Sol.  This shop and local landmark has been selling fans, umbrellas and fine walking sticks since 1858.  La Integral, on Calle Leon in the historic Barrio de Las Letras, houses an eclectic collection of wares from local designers – from jewellery to T-shirts to lomos.  For lovers of handicrafts, El Gato Negro is a habadashery paradise, and just a few minutes away on C/Espoz y Mina is Guantes Luque – glovemaker par excellence.

Article Photo: Flickr / Moyan Brenn

Cover Photo: Flickr / José María Cuéllar

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