Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron remodelled an old power station to create the seven-floor CaixaForum exhibition space. The current Contemporary Cartographies exhibition features works of art by the likes of Paul Klee, Yves Klein and Mona Hatoum, and runs until 24 February 2013.
Le Petit Bistrot, meanwhile, does precisely what you’d expect from its name, with a menu that includes cassoulet, snails with butter, garlic and parsley, and coquilles St-Jacques.
The Scandinavian-inspired Ølsen serves scrumptious little corn blinis with various toppings paired with shots of flavoured vodka.
This is a neighbourhood of classic joints, but there’s none more traditional than Casa Lucio, which has been feeding royalty, politicians and celebrities for decades.
Its unlikely star dish is fried eggs ‘smashed’ over chips and ham. Alternatively, try the bright and breezy veggie eatery El Estragón.
If suckling pig and tomato-y patatas bravas begin to lose their charm, head for Gumbo for a taste of New Orleans soul food.
Toma also offers something different: rabbit cooked in champagne and mustard, and mussels in curry sauce.
The nuns at the Convento de las Carboneras make exceptionally delicious biscuits, which they sell through a wooden hatch in the wall.
Room Mate Alicia (rooms from €98) does style on a budget with aplomb, featuring bold cream-coloured rooms with chic splashes of colour.
A remodelled 19th-century coaching inn, Posada del León de Oro (rooms from €100) is now an impeccably stylish retreat arranged around a central courtyard. Most romantic of all is the attic room tucked under the eaves.
No two rooms at the Hotel Abalu (rooms from €68) are the same: all draw design inspiration from a range of eras and styles. There are some gorgeous details to be found, from intricate carved screens to oldfashioned Bakelite phones.
The long-awaited refurbishment of the beautiful, century-old Mercado de San Miguel market has brought gourmet snacking to the neighbourhood, with oyster bars, croqueta stands, artisanal ice-cream and sushi bars under the elegant roof of this ‘culinary cultural centre’.
Cosy J&J Books & Coffee stocks second-hand books in every language and provides drinks over which to peruse them.
Nearby Bunkha keeps fashionistas happy with cult labels such as Danish brand Won Hundred.
Café Central is an elegant little jazz joint that never fails to jump.
The dusty and atmospheric La Venencia is essential for sherry lovers: it’s all they have on the menu, and it’s served from big wooden barrels.
The Chocolatería San Ginés is the quintessential Madrid experience, where party people collide with blue rinses at dawn for a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of sugary churros.
Ex-house of ill repute Démodé is now a tiny club with a taste for electro and house beats.