Cheap Madrid

Faro Vallecano: a beautiful, no-frills diner in Vallecas

The sun pours through the smokey windows of this upstairs diner and is intercepted by half a dozen coconut palms, casting exotic shadows on the terrazzo floor. Everything – and I mean everything – is a shade of brown, as it has been since its last refurb a few decades ago.

The Duck Church of Lavapiés

Unless you live on this quiet, narrow street in Lavapiés, there's almost no reason for you to walk down it – that is, unless you're going to the Duck Church. Nestled into the ground floor of a centenarian building lives a tiny temple devoted to the rubber duck, and its priest is Leo Bassi, a 66-year-old clown who was born on tour.

No-frills bars in peculiar places (Vol. I)

Much like a municipal bin, a no-frills bar is never more than 50 metres away from you in the centre of Madrid. Going for an impromptu caña was never easier, be it at a train station, on a train, in a hospital or even next to a funeral parlour.

Bar El Jamón: the Godfather of Lavapiés

In the thick of bustling Indian restaurants and foreign food stores, a jazzy facade with bold retro lettering stands out from the crowd. This neighbourhood veteran is Bar El Jamón, the Godfather of Lavapiés.

Madrid city in bloom

The Spanish spring is finally upon us and the almond and cherry trees are blossoming! This spectacular honey-scented force of nature only lasts a few weeks, but don't worry, you don't have to hurriedly plan a trip out to Andalusia – you can see it right here in Madrid. Here are six places to find them…

Chocolate con churros at Los Pinchitos

Suddenly the pace picks up. Stacks of hot churros and porras rush out of the kitchen while the waiters frantically steam chocolate and place together dozens of cups and saucers. In this churrería, the staff know their customers' routines well: suddenly hordes of classy old ladies walk in, order vast amounts of chocolate and churros and kick off their Friday evening with a bit of scandalous family gossip. 

Bar Lozano: One of Malasaña’s last no-frills bars

We've already declared our love for Bar Lozano but, after spending some time there recently, we noticed that its popularity seems to be waning once again. It might seem like we're fighting a losing battle at times, but I for one refuse to give up.

Cafetería Rocablanca: classic Spanish bar food done perfectly

Have you ever been walking along the street in Madrid and thought to yourself: 'Quick caña and tortilla?' Me too. If you happen to have that thought whilst on Calle de Fuencarral, you're seconds away from making it a reality. But if you're half way across the city, jump on a metro - it's worth the ride.

Eight eccentric museum-worthy collections found only in El Rastro

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday in Madrid than strolling around El Rastro, but if you don't have time to explore this 400-year-old market as many times as we have (possibly into three figures), then let us help you hit the ground running with seven of our most eccentric finds.

Latest obsession: ghost buildings

We’re in a surreal time in Madrid, somewhere between crisis and post-crisis. With the economy in motion again, the city’s charming madrileño hum is being shattered by the crash-bang-drill-beep of construction work and, for a brief moment, a peculiar phenomenon is appearing.

El Rincón de Marco: Lavapiés’ foodie portal to Cuba

One end of Calle Cabestreros opens out onto the buzzing 24-hour Plaza Nelson Mandela so you'd be forgiven for not paying much attention to the opposite end. But illuminating the dimly lit end of the street with a distinctive dusk-pink glow is a little Cuban bar blasting Caribbean music through its sealed windows.

Madrid’s no-frills station bar

Since 1961, El Brillante has been the first and last port of call for millions of Atocha's passengers. A first caña stood at the bar sets the tone for the rest of your stay, and that final bocadillo de calamares leaves you with a belly full of fondness for Madrid.