48 Hours in Madrid: The Best Shopping in the World?

Madrid is reaching a new level of luxury as “The New Miami”


When it comes to luxury shopping in Europe, Paris, Milan, and London come to mind. But a new contender has joined these ranks. Dubbed “the new Miami,” Madrid is now attracting the upper echelon of Latin American society, attracting an influx of tourists and seasonal residents ready to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the Spanish capital. 

Traveling to Madrid from Miami isn’t a novel passage. Many travelers pass through Europe’s fifth largest airport, Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas, as a gateway to the continent. But thanks to the city’s culinary transformation and investment in luxury hospitality, more international visitors are making Madrid their destination. Beyond visiting renowned cultural institutions and admiring the architecture, visitors are loosening their purse strings for unique shopping experiences. Over the course of two days, we traversed the city to discover if it lives up to its self-proclaimed title, “The Best Shopping in the World.” For accommodations in the heart of the city, we stayed at the five-star VP Plaza España. Our fifteenth-floor room provided breathtaking views of Madrid and the Plaza de España itself. Compared to its surroundings, the hotel presents a sleek and light aesthetic, from its modern exterior to its contemporary interior design. And the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, Ginkgo, gave us front-row seats to picturesque sunsets during our stay.


We prepped for our first day’s excursion at the hotel’s breakfast lounge, before heading out to the Salamanca neighborhood, a collection of 19th-century boulevards lined with fine-dining restaurants and designer boutiques. Strolling down the Golden Mile – the epitome of luxury shopping in Madrid – we walked into Matarranz 1911, a fourth-generation linen store. The Matarranz family’s philosophy is one of quality and tradition, producing a vast range of high-end home textiles. Miguel Matarranz, the founder’s great-grandson and frontman for the store, explained how they work as homeware tailors for local and international clients. With a tactile display of various cottons, he walked us through different quality levels and benefits, giving us a better understanding of what it means to “dress up” your home. 

After a traditional late-morning coffee, we continued on the Golden Mile to Loewe, the renowned Spanish luxury fashion house that specializes in leather goods, clothing, perfumes, and accessories. Their flagship boutique, spanning three stories inside a 19th-century building, integrates art and interior design to bring their products to life. From the grand spiral staircase and stained-glass ceiling to the pieces of confetti adorning their latest in-store activation, visiting Casa Loewe is as much sightseeing as shopping. With a glass of champagne in our hands, we inhaled their signature scents and browsed for a new wallet.  

The Flagship Store of Loewe, the Spanish luxury fashion house which spans three stores inside a restored 19th century building

We walked next to El Retiro Park, the 19th-century public park that was formerly the grounds for King Felipe IV’s palace and gardens. In 2021, it was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with el Paseo del Prado, the central avenue that is home to Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art: the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. As the name suggests, a visit to the park is a retreat from the bustle of city life. We leisurely passed fountains, statues, and green landscapes to take our midday break along the Great Pond, watching row boats glide by.

With our energy recharged, we made our way to Spain’s commercial retail giant: El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store group in Europe, founded in 1940 and headquartered in Madrid. Throughout the multi-story building, hundreds of Spanish and international brands, from Dior to Carolina Herrera, showcase their latest collections. The store is divided into levels by product, from ready-to-wear and accessories to cosmetics and jewelry, with VIP concierge services and private shopping lounges. 

As international shoppers, we took advantage of El Corte Inglés’ tax-free shopping program, which allows all the purchases from different brands to be added to one tax-free invoice. At the Castellana location, we were even able to receive our tax refund in-store. El Corte Inglés also provides a Gourmet Experience market and dining hall, where we picked up truffle oils and a few bottles of wine. Skipping the food hall, we saved our appetites for nearby Quinto Elemento, a rooftop restaurant offering a fusion of Mediterranean, Latin, and Asian flavors. As we walked in, an overhead screen was partially opened, displaying an array of changing hues. As we dined, the screen closed, displaying a galaxy of stars. 

El Corte Inglés, the biggest department store group in Europe, founded in 1940 and headquartered in Madrid.


We began our second day in the center of Madrid. Our first stop was Galería Canalejas, a three-story luxury shopping mall located inside one of the city’s most important set of historical buildings. Less than two years since opening, the mall houses more than 40 fashion, fine jewelry, perfumery, and accessory items from the world’s most prestigious brands, as well as an elaborate food hall with more than a dozen restaurants. Walking past various boutiques, we were given a tour highlighting the smallest details of the buildings’ restoration, where items from the original tenants were restored, including a 19-ton bank vault door from the 1920s. After a quick peek into the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid, which has direct access to the Galería, we went to the food hall for champagne and freshly shucked oysters. 

Inspired by Madrid’s commitment to historic preservation, we continued to Mercado San Miguel and Plaza Mayor, two major tourist attractions in the city center. The market, which opened its doors in 1916, hosts a diverse selection of Spanish gourmet bites, from jamón serrano to paellas. The atmosphere is casual and lively, with tourists and locals alike consuming culinary delights from the various booths. A key reason to stop at the market, other than for authentic cuisine, is to admire the vintage iron and glass facade. Adjacent to Mercado San Miguel is the iconic Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square with a landmark statue of Philip III at its center and cafes and restaurants lined along its arches. 

The Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s main square with a landmark statue of Philip III

South of the plaza, we walked past Sobrino de Botín, reputed to be the oldest (still-operating) restaurant in the world. Founded in 1725, this picturesque eatery has kept its charming traditional tavern atmosphere. The kitchen specializes in Castilian cuisine, with wood-oven roasted lamb and suckling pig fan-favorites. Just ask Heminway, who frequented the restaurant. In his book about bullfighting, “Death in the Afternoon,” he writes: “But in the meantime, I preferred to dine on suckling pig at Botín than sit and think about the accidents which my friends could suffer.” 

Madrid’s juxtaposition of the old and the new continued as we walked into Capas Seseña, original manufactures of Spanish capes. The shop has spent the last 120 years perfecting its craft, with skilled artisans handcrafting each cape from first cut to final tailoring. The capes, sported by the likes of Picasso and Hillary Clinton, maintain a regal look elegant enough to wear to the opera, but modern enough to blend with contemporary fashion. 

Walking along La Gran Via, referred by some as the “Spanish Broadway,” we shifted to 21st century immersion shopping at the WOW Concept. This six-story store is a one-stop shop for the latest trends, from streetwear and beauty to technology and interior design. Each floor is designed for its products, from the glowing aura surrounding the latest tech gear to life-size art bringing a whimsical feel to home decor. From sought-after kicks to collections by up-and-coming international designers, WOW Concept caters to our modern needs. 

There was no better way to close out our time in Madrid than with a traditional flamenco performance at Las Tablas Flamenco, right off Plaza de España. Here we sipped sangria and nibbled tapas as we listened to the sounds of Spanish guitar meld with passionate Andalusian singing. We watched the dancing duo strut the stage in traditional outfits, transporting us to the out-of-body experience that is flamenco.  

Las Tablas Flamenco, just off Plaza de España, for sangria, tapas, and the sound and dancing of flamenco

After the final curtain call, we walked back to our hotel, reflecting on our short time exploring Madrid’s culture and lifestyle. We could appreciate both the new and the old of the city while shopping for unique finds and luxury experiences. With a glimpse of what it has to offer, we’ll be returning to the best shopping in the world.

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