Monasterio de Corpus Christi
A local legend. This monastery is also home to a clandestine pasteleria (a bakery) run by nuns! These nuns are known as “Las Carboneras” (The Coal Women) because of a painting of the Virgin Mary, which was accidentally discovered in a coal bin (you can also see this painting inside the Monastery’s Church).
When you pass through the quiet, dark hallways, you’ll reach a small, Alice in Wonderland-like door that opens to a “torno” (turntable). This is where you can place your cash while saying your orders to an unseen nun on the other side of the turntable. There’s a varied menu of lemon cookies, mantecados de yema (egg yolk cookies), mantecados de Jerez (sherry cookies) and naranjines (orange flavoured sweets), among others. A few seconds later, your cookies and change will appear on the revolving table! Can you imagine being a silent nun amongst all the tourists?
De Madrid al cielo and Ernest wuz here.
This is where you should head to impress all your visiting family and friends. A particular hotel somewhere near Gran via and metro Sevilla is home to two chic, secret spots.
The first is a rooftop terrace bar that offers a gorgeous, panoramic view of the city. The second is a speakeasy where Ernest Hemingway used to drink during his time in Madrid. Then again, I’m guessing he drank everywhere. To get to this secret lounge serving artisanal cocktails, you need to pass through the bathroom stalls of Hotel X. Thankfully, the hotel concierge is always happy to help.
In the unremarkable street, Barrio Prosperidad lies a treasure, the favourite paella restaurant of the locals in Madrid. Owned and managed by three generations of a Valencian family, it’s practically a speakeasy restaurant because it’s easy to miss if you’re not vigilant! You’ll feel like you’re entering Narnia. Knock once, and someone will open the door to usher you into this extraordinary place! Suspended laboratory equipment and Polaroid photos, “laundry” artfully hanging above tables, hidden private dining areas, and an autographed photo of the Spanish King, an old customer, are just a few things that might catch your eye. Although this place is known for its paella, what they serve isn’t exactly the traditional Valencian paella but “patella”, named after the brass pan patented by the owner, Norberto. The dish has an innovative twist that deserves to be kept a secret.
I’ve saved the best for last. In the old quarter near Plaza Mayor, you’ll find a gem serving excellent tapas and handcrafted drinks. A cosy, eclectically designed cave environment will keep bringing you back. The romantic, dimly-lit corners and cocktails are just perfect for secret meetings. If you’d like, hop over to Amicis, which has a beautiful private event space below its main restaurant floor.