Madrid is a rare thing: a city that combines thriving capital life with world-class dining, achingly cool nightlife and museum-worthy art. Make for Melia’s Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá; its Elizabethan-style façade sets the precedent for what’s to come.
From here it’s just 30 minutes to the golden triangle of art, home to Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, where you’ll find an exhibition dedicated to American painter Alex Katz until 11 September.
Come afternoon, Retiro Park is a welcome dose of green – while its beautiful glass pavilion is one of the city’s finest examples of cast iron architecture. Close to the park is Aarde, serving African-inspired dishes from its open kitchen to a soundtrack of live music. It’s easy to while away an evening there…
Getting around is easy. Buy a ten-ride ticket for the metro for just €12.20 and move freely between the city’s best sights – this elegant wallet will keep it safe.
Easy to slip on and off for a day of trying on clothes, and equally effortless for a day of exploring, this versatile, loose-fitting midi dress from ba&sh is made for city breaks.
Taking inspiration from Madrid’s fashion and cultural prowess is Las Rozas Village, on the city’s outskirts. As well as hosting the world’s best-loved designers, the shopping destination is transformed into an art gallery for summer– even welcoming a piece of the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza’s Alex Katz exhibition to its open-air streets.
A partnership with Uber makes getting there a dream too. You’ll receive 30% off a one-way trip to the Village and a complimentary return when you spend €350 in the boutiques – trust us, it’s not difficult!
On your way back to Madrid, look out for the understated Asador de Aranda. It’s the chef’s lamb dishes, cooked in a wood-fired oven, which gives the restaurant its special reputation.
Before you catch the train to Barcelona, visit Puerta del Sol – it’s a quick metro stop on the way to Puerta de Atocha station. Locals pour out of the bustling café there, La Mallorquina, where a breakfast of strong coffee and fresh pastries awaits.
Then, jump aboard AVE’s high-speed train to reach Barcelona Sants. Have time for more exploring? Hop off halfway in the under-the-radar gem, Zaragoza. In the city’s Old Town, overlooking the Ebro River, stands the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a baroque masterpiece to marvel at.
Wander south to find La Prensa – a Michelin-starred, family-run restaurant that grew from a wine shop. While its glass-fronted cellar nods to its origins, it’s the menu from chef Marisa Barberán that draws the crowd.
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Wear this classic swimsuit beneath tailored shorts when you visit the hotel’s rooftop bar and pool, called Eleven BCN. You’ll be able to take a dip and sit back with a cocktail as the sun goes down.
With Gaudí as one of its founding fathers, the modernist architecture on display across Barcelona – not to mention the Picasso Museum – makes the city a must-visit on any art-lover’s tour. And no visit would be complete without a tour of Gaudí’s masterpieces, from La Sagrada Familia to Park Güell.
For the latter, take the metro to Vallcarca for a picnic among the park’s colourful mosaic walls and statues. Then, stay late to watch the sun set over the city at Bunkers del Carmel.
While you’re in Barcelona, make the NH Collection’s Barcelona Gran Hotel Calderón your home. Sitting in the Quadrant D'Or, this five-star favourite, designed by another Modernist architect Josep Rodriguez Lloveras, is just minutes from the sights.
Wake up early for an art-filled day. Your first stop is MACBA, Barcelona’s contemporary art museum. The Teresa Lanceta exhibition on the art of weaving, running until September, is sure to be a highlight for fashion devotees. Then, get lost in the Gothic Quarter, where its quaint, narrow streets will transport you back to Medieval Catalonia. The Plaça Reial, Santa Eulàlia Cathedral and Palau Reial Major aren’t to be missed.
Once you’ve had your fill of art, escape the city by travelling to La Roca Village, just 40 minutes away – NH hotel guests are even offered complimentary return transfers. There you can book an appointment in its luxurious new Personal Shopping Suites as you browse the boutiques.
Finish off the night with dinner at the Village’s Atmósferas Mordisco – the outdoor terrace makes it the perfect wining and dining spot while you tuck into sharing platters of Spain’s finest. This beautiful bag from Michael Kors can take you from day to dinner.
While away the golden, sunset hours in one of Barcelona’s beachfront bars – simply pack a wrap skirt and an eye-catching necklace, such as this from Missoni, to make your swimsuit nightlife-friendly.
For your final day, dig out your favourite swimwear to stroll along Barcelona’s sandy beaches. As you make your way there, down the famed La Rambla, pop into the indoor food market Mercat de la Boqueria for a sumptuous picnic of cured meats, fresh vegetables and local wines.
For a refined dip, head instead to the Aire ancient baths where you can treat yourself to a relaxing spa day in the city centre. With numerous pools to soak in and massage treatments aplenty, it’s the perfect antidote to your fun-filled trip.
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