Destination overview: Madrid, Spain
As the third largest city in the European Union, only topped by London and Berlin, Madrid’s large size is better explored in its beautiful, intimate vignettes throughout the city. While there is much debate as to where the name “Madrid” came from, the ancient recorded name for the city, Magerit, comes from the name of the original fortress built on the Manzanares River, meaning “place of abundant water.” Thankfully for all of us foodies, it also is the place of divine macaroons, paella and tapas dishes. We think the best way to experience all Madrid offers means to come with an empty stomach and good walking shoes!
You’ll learn here at Jane, we are not lovers of the megaplex, massive hotels, but rather intimate settings that allow you to feel like a guest, not just someone renting a room! So nowhere in Madrid could be more perfect than the Hotel De Las Letras, with it’s delightful poetry decorating the walls of the rooms, and hallways. This 109 room hotel is situated in a building that dates to 1917, but has only been a hotel since 2005. We love the juxtaposition of the classic architecture with modern finishes, particularly in the gorgeous bathrooms, terraces off the “Superior terrace” rooms, and the entire, stunning first floor. The terraces are perfect for sharing a bottle of wine and looking through the digital images you took that day-we’re obsessed with this (good thing cameras have rechargeable batteries)! Increase your likelihood of getting a room upgrade to a room with a terrace by joining I Prefer. I Prefer is a complimentary guest benefit program shared by hotels around the world. The Hotel De Las Letras’ location is ideal for tourist needs, with proximity to the Prado and Reina Sofia (our favorite) museums as well as the popular Puerta del Sol square (Spanish equivalent to Times Square). While the Puerta del Sol is enjoyable for people watching, beautiful architecture and viewing the famous Bear and the Madrono Tree sculpture, push beyond it’s perimeter to the our favorite area, Plaza Mayor and the ancient cobbled streets surrounding it. Make sure to sample some tapas and gelato for lunch, but not too much, because you need to save some room for dinner at La Chulapa de Alcala. Order the paella, after all paella was conceived in Valencia, Spain. If you are fortunate enough to have several days in Spain, we say crash your weary jet lagged bones after dinner, (La Chulapa is close to your hotel)-and wake up refreshed the next day and ready for a morning run (or slow pokes can walk) at the nearby Royal Botanical Gardens, which has beautiful trails. Then head back to the hotel for their wonderful breakfast, load up on their yogurt, fruit and toast with jam and butter, because after all you did work out!