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 Travel Article Travel Article Archive  
June 2008 Email this to a friend

Madrid
They know how to fiesta! in Spain’s capital

By Michael J. Darton

Hostal La Zona, Madrid
Arnaldo and Vicent -- your hosts at Hostal La Zona

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NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Madrid article click DailyXtraTravel

Click on the link for a handy PDF version of our June 2008 Barcelona, Madrid & Sitges travel feature!

Madrid

Gay people here know how to fiesta

Madrid sits high on a baking plain in the center of Spain and is full of cultural and artistic highlights. Well-known art galleries worth a visit include the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia. The city's royal heritage is evident in its palatial architecture and lovely monuments.

Spain is a country of fiestas, and the capital Madrid really knows how to throw a party. Throughout the year there are a host of festivals including. El dos de Mayo, celebrated on -- not surprisingly -- May 2, marking the anniversary of Madrid's uprising against Napoleonic forces.

The Gay Europride event last summer saw an estimated two million people on the streets of Madrid. This year's pride events run from June 28 to July 6, with street entertainment, stages, and DJs. The parade through the city is on Saturday July 5, when the streets will bubble-over with excitement and clubs will fill with revelers. See Cogam.org for more on these events and other gay activities in Madrid.

For those who like more kink, get along to the Madrid Sleazy Festival, which attracts an international gathering of fetish followers. This year's ran April 30 to May 4 -- check out Sleazymadrid.com for future events.

Arriving in Madrid by plane is simple, and the airport terminals are connected to the metro by moving pathways. From the airport, the Metro takes about 20 to 30 minutes to the city center for only two euros. The majority of gay venues are situated near Plaza Chueca and Gran Via.

Accommodations

Heranfu Apartments & Suites (Caballero de Gracia 8) hosts luxurious self-contained apartments and suites right in the center of Gran Via. Host Abraham Garcia's concept is to create a place for rest and entertainment. Each suite is themed: "Contact" is futuristic, and comes equipped with a jacuzzi and ozone-therapy, while "Bassora" is styled in Arabian decor with rich reds and natural wood finishes; the Turkish hamam ceramic bath area is huge, holding 1000 liters of water -- you could fit four people in here! All apartments have kitchen areas and state-of-the-art entertainment systems. Heranfu can also supply food and drinks for special events and parties.

Hostal Puerta del Sol (Plaza Puerta del Sol 14) overlooks the huge and lively square of Puerta del Sol. They offer clean and comfortable rooms, some with private baths and televisions. Prices start at as little as 36 euros. They have free wi-fi, and there's a computer in the lobby for guests' use, too. They serve breakfast until midday and you can help yourself to tea and coffee throughout your stay here. The staff speak English and create a homey and relaxed ambiance.

At Hostal Adriano (Cruz 26) all the newly-decorated rooms have private bathrooms, telephones, digital safe, and internet access. The service here is highly professional and Alberto's perfect English (and Spanish!) will make everyone feel at home. The Adriano is connected to two other hostals: Hostal Adria and Hostal Adria Santa Ana.

Hostal Hispano (Hortaleza 38) is right in the heart of the gay zone; for those who don't do stairs, there's an elevator here. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and well equipped with AC, television, and ceramic bathrooms.

Hostal Odesa (Hortaleza 38), on the next floor, is renovated to a great standard, and boasts bright decor, AC, and television.

Hostal La Zona (Valverde 7), in a newly renovated 19th-century building, is a neo-classical hostal that houses clean, bright, and modern rooms just steps away from Gran Via. This is a gay hostal which is straight-friendly, and run by the cute Arnaldo and Vicent. The staff are gay and knowledgeable about the local area. They also rent apartments, which are fully equipped with washing machines, DVD players, fridges, and cooking facilities. Wi-fi is free.

Casa Chueca (San Bartolome 4) has six rooms with balconies that overlook the street, as well as rooms overlooking an interior courtyard. This hostal is right in the center of the gay district. Elizabeth makes all guests feel welcome and speaks fluent Spanish, English, and French. Chueca Pension (Gravina 4) offers clean and bright rooms, and is run by Elizabeth's mother, Beni. The nine rooms are equally inexpensive, with free internet and laundry service.

Dining

The choice in Madrid is vast for food styles and preference. The Spanish love small portions -- known as tapas -- of meats, fish, and vegetables. These are often served casually day and night with beer or coffee, and at reasonable prices. But there are many more luxurious ways to eat, too.

At Vinoteca Barbechera (Gravina 6) wine bottles line the walls, and the tapas will amaze you with unexpected taste combinations (salmon with honey, slices of rump roast in a fig sauce, hazelnut bisque).

Tepic Urban Mex Restaurant (Pelayo 4) sits in the gay street of Pelayo. Its modern and bright design is sparse and decorated in crisp pinks and whites. They have an extensive Mexican menu and also cater to vegetarians.

El Rincon de Pelayo (Pelayo 19) is not a tapas bar but an excellent restaurant with a small terrace out front. The menu del dèa is a great way to have a three course meal with wine or coffee for around 10 euros.

Con Mucho Amor (San Marcos 1) is a small boutique of a Moroccan restaurant serving a selection of hot and cold food to eat in or take away. Homemade hummus with whole chick peas and warm bread are four Euros, and a range of tagines -- couscous with natural herbs, flavoring, meats, and vegetables -- can be had for around five.

Sama Sama (San Bartolome 23) has a simple yet gorgeous decor, done in the rich earth tones of the high plains. This describes their cuisine as well. Don't miss their wild boar entree, served by some of the friendliest, cutest waiters in town.

Mama Inez (Hortaleza 22) is busy all day with locals and tourists. They serve beers and snacks as well as teas and coffees. Salads have huge portions of veggies and start at six euros. This is more of a coffeeshop with food available.

El Estragón (Plaza de la Paja 10) is a vegetarian restaurant that aims to impress even non-vegetarians.

Bars and nightlife

LL Bar (Pelaya 11), open everyday from 5 p.m., hosts drag shows which include sing-a-longs; later in the evening they have strippers on stage. Downstairs is a small bar area. There is a cruising area which sits beside the toilet.

Bebop Café (Chueca 9) is a new bar with modern decor, a trendy vibe, and an international feel. Seating is inside at the bar or in a neat booth area -- a calm escape from the bustle. Or for those who like to be in the heart of the action, Bebop has large seating areas outside, busy day and night, and perfect for enjoying a cold beer on warm days.

Truck Disco/Pub (Libertad 28) is a small basement pub and dance bar in the Chueca Zone, with shows until dawn, and estupendos sandwiches to keep you going through the night.

La Lupe Chueca (Hortaleza 51) is elegant and lavish; they have two-for-one happy hours during the week.

A Noite (Hortaleza 43) is an elegant bar in the style of a small European nightclub. There's a different performer on each night here. Be warned: they prize themselves on making everyone part of the act!

Liquid (Barquillo 8) is a chic music video bar with a handsome crowd of mostly men that's busy on weekends.

Black and White Bar (Libertad 34) gets busy from about 1 a.m. and features lively dancing and shows at the weekend. They host the yearly "Hoscars" award ceremony: you'll see the Most Popular Bartender in Madrid, the Best Bar in Madrid, and the Best Drinks in Madrid. Black and White has a mixed crowd, old and young, with lots of cuties -- some for hire.

Cruising (Perez Galdos 5) is an enormous, aptly-named space. Downstairs is a maze of dark areas and videos playing, with some private lock up areas. Lots of pleasurable noises can be heard in the dark, as people flick lighters to see what's going on! There is a small dance-floor playing happy house and pop, and they have weekend strippers here, too.

Delirio Dance Club (Libertad 28) is an upscale disco with three bars and lots of clean white space

At Eagle Bar (Pelayo 30) expect chaps, leather, and denim. The space is small but gets a good crowd and atmosphere.

Mito Disco (Augusto Figueroa 3) is a mixed place: ladies, men, and in-betweens all welcome -- a party zone without a specific demographic.

O'Clock Bear's Bar (San Marcos 11) is frequently busy with locals and tourists, music play from current to past decades -- as people sit on stools and sing.

Hot Bar (9 Infantas) is a small venue, but big on friendliness and fun. Angel (Campoamor 11), also part of the Hot group, is a dance club for a variety of people, with live performances by comedians, musicians, and dancers, and also home to the annual Mr. Bear Spain contest.

Copper Bar and Sex Club (San Vicente Ferrer 34) is a great place to let go of everything. Check in all your clothes and sit and enjoy the atmosphere of this nude/fetish bar. It's just a five minute walk from Chueca, and is situated in a quiet area of town. On Sundays the place is packed with underwear lovers, and on Wednesdays it's X-Naked night. Take the Metro to Tribunal and walk down San Vicente.

Bear's Bar (Pelayo 4) is another friendly place where you'll get to know everyone in no time. The second room features bear porn, and offers private space where bears can frolic.

Strong Center (Trujillos 7) hosts nightly parties and hard-core fun, lots of cruising and drinking, and man-on-man action.

Leather Bar (Pelayo 42) is another men's club to find sex, with darkrooms, cabins, porn videos, slings, glory holes, and no dress code.

Hell Sex Club (Buenavista 14), open daily except Mondays, is (and I quote) "a new space where real men can fuck... for friends, travelers, and guests." It's membership-only, so see their website and get your invitation by email before going.

Rimmel (Luis de Gongora 2) is a local bar where owner Pedro still holds court and has stories to tell of the past and current news of Madrid.

Boite (Tetuan 27) is the new place in town and is proving popular. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are full and are hosted by club promoters Victor Pallas and Jose Lupe. This duo also host the popular Prive (21 Calle Aduana; Myspace.privemadrid.com).

Griffin's Dance Club (Mqués de Valdeiglesias 6) is a longtime favorite with shows Sundays through Wednesdays and disco party ambiance Thursdays through Saturdays.

Other bars include Sashas (Plaza Chueca 1) small mixed crowd dancespot; Rick's Bar (Clavel 8) a well-established nightclub; and Odarko (Loreto y Chicote 7), a gay fetish club near Plaza Callao.

Two big parties from the Trip Family Group (Tripfamily.es) have kept Madrid dancing for years: Ohm Dance Club (Plaza del Callao 4) takes place on Fridays and Saturdays from midnight, and "Goa" at Fabrik (Avda. de la Industria 82, Humanes de Madrid) has electronic sessions every Sunday from noon to midnight. There are shuttle buses from Plaza de España -- see their website for schedules.

Into the Tank at de Nombre Público (Garcia Molinas 11) is a pervy dance bash scheduled for Madrid's pride weekend July 6, with a strict dress code of leather, rubber, military, uniform, jockstraps, or naked with boots.

"Circuit Party" powered by Matinee held at Royal Cool Dance Club (Isobel la Catolica 6) is a pre-event for the circuit festival taking place in Barcelona August 4 to 11. The venue is glamorous, with a huge main dance floor and smaller rooms, too. Upstairs it's pop music and trashy sounds; downstairs the glamorous go-go's strut their bodies to hard house.

Saunas

Madrid has a dozen or so saunas to chose from. Here are a few to get you started, with others are listed on our website.

Sauna Paraiso (Calle Norte 15) is a large space with two hot tubs and a sauna and steam room. There is a small bar with drinks and a television. And of course, all necessary private areas, too.

Sauna Gran Via (6 Barco 6) is right off Gran Via and is a small place which gets going after midnight. There is a masseur on hand who charges for a thirty minute rub-down.

Sauna Adán (San Bernardo 38) is a busy place from late afternoon; it's full of gorgeous South Americans wearing mini- white towels and showing off their manhood. Most ask if you want a massage, so if you like to buy, this place is a paradise.

Sauna Octopus (Churruca 10) is only a short walk from Chueca, or the nearest metro is Tribunal. A glass roof separate the bar area and the small pool, so you can watch naked men swimming and relaxing as you sip a cocktail. The showers have a glass divider, so this place boosts an open-for-all decor. There are private rooms upstairs for those who wish for privacy or the company of just one (or two...) others.

Sauna Center (Cuesta de Santo Domingo 1) and Sauna Paraiso (Norte 15) are two more local tubs.

Shopping and such

SR Leather (Pelayo 7) vends leather, rubber, SM gear, and army and industrial clothes, as well as toys and art. Jose hosts a chamber of art along a long corridor with local artists including Neo displaying nude and semi-nude drawings. There is a small room at the back of the shop with crafted SM furniture for sale. Leather goods and clothes are made in-house.

Different Life Book/Sex Shop (Pelayo 30) offers a full range of play toys along with gifts, DVDs, music, and books -- open till 8:30 p.m. every day.

Sex Store Play (Pelayo 31) sells toys, gifts, music, art, and porn, and offers double or single cabins where you can view the DVDs on sale or just have a quickie.

There is a great coffee shop at the back of Berkana Book Shop (Hortaleza 64), Madrid's longest running gay-shop/bookstore, serving teas and coffee, beers, and cake. Downstairs there is more to explore.

Ovlas (Augusto Figueroa 1) is not to be missed. Leave all your sexy-wear at home and buy what you need here. You'll find the hottest, gayest fashion in the world here. Ovlas has three stores: in Madrid, Barcelona, and Sitges.

Juan, Por Dios! (Perez Galdos 3; Juanpordios.com) is a hair and beauty world and is the creation of Guille. You can book an appointment anytime Monday to Saturday between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. There is always a lively atmosphere here. Guille also owns their twin shop at Manuela Malasana 26.

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