With its combination of elegant Madrilenian buildings and stellar shopping, not to mention a healthy dose of culture and a selection of gourmet delights that will have even the most discerning foodie waxing lyrical, the Salamanca district of Madrid is not to be missed. At the heart of the area, the elegant Calle de Serrano shopping street and its noteworthy neighbours offer the most covetable international brands as well as unique Spanish labels.
The Manolo Blahnik store on Calle de Serrano is a great place to start your tour of Salamanca. Blahnik’s footwear designs always pay tribute to his Spanish heritage and this season’s collection is no exception. Inspired by the prickly pear cactus, a common feature of the Canary Islands where the designer was born, the Mandinga sandal is a unique choice for spring/summer. With spiked toes and ankle details, intriguing hourglass heel and rich shade of green, these shoes are ideal for teaming with a pure white sundress and a perfect tan. For those who prefer flat sandals, the Andaluxflat model boasts gaucho-style pom-poms in either a red and black or black and gold colour scheme, while the vibrant yellow Ondina style will certainly add a little sunshine to your step.
Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada
Calle de Serrano also boasts a store from Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, a Spanish designer renowned for her vibrant aesthetic. Her latest collection has a beachwear focus, with watermelon-print swimming costumes and heart-print towelling cover-ups, as well as a host of more avant-garde options. If you are looking for a one-piece that is guaranteed to turn heads on the beach, this is the store for you.
In addition to Spanish designers, there is a wealth of luxury international brands in Salamanca. Calle de Serrano offers high-end jewellery from Bulgari, Cartier and Chopard, while Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Valentino and Hermès are among the luxury labels available on the exclusive Calle de José Ortega y Gasset shopping street.
On Calle de Claudio Coello, the Isolée department store is well worth a visit, especially for its beauty area which features some of the best-loved international brands, from Aesop to Diptyque and Malin & Goetz. Further along the street, you’ll find a wide variety of Spanish brands, which you’re sure to enjoy discovering. Highlights include the time-honoured espadrille-maker Castañer, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and visionary jewellery designer Chus Burés.
Chus Burés is famed for his striking collections, such as Buttons from 2000 and his 1985 Madrid range in silver, which featured the Matador hairpin, designed for the Pedro Almodóvar film of the same name. The groundbreaking jeweller has recently released a new book of his work, Chus Burés: Portraits & Jewellery, so there has never been a better time to visit his store. ‘The book is an homage to my collectors, my clients, my friends. The idea is to portray people and the way they wear my jewellery in a real situation, the way they are,’ he explains.
Featuring photographs of key names in the art scene, the stunning book is further testimony to the jeweller’s accomplishments and reputation. Portraits include Miguel Zugaza, who leaves his directorship of the Museo del Prado national art museum this year to return to his former position at the helm of Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao fine arts museum.
Burés decided to open his store in Salamanca because of its central location and proximity to great cultural locations. ‘We have the Parque del Buen Retiro park nearby and access to major museums. To be in central Madrid is crucial for work meetings and having major brands and great hotels nearby makes it easier for my clients and collectors,’ he says. When it comes to other must-visit spots, Burés has a host of favourites: ‘Yusty for men, Casaflorida for flowers, Chantilly for fantastic cakes, La Paz food market, Lavinia and La Tintorería for excellent wines, Loewe with its new collections for men…’ The list, it seems, is endless. Look out for the designer’s three new collections, Dans L’Univers, Past/Future and Subverted Jewellery, at his charming boutique.
There are plenty of cultural discoveries to be made in the Salamanca area, from the Puerta de Alcalá monument and the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in the south of the district to the Museo Lázaro Galdiano in the north. When it comes to culinary delights, the Mercado de La Paz market, as mentioned by Chus Burés, is a local institution and the perfect place to pick up ingredients for a picnic in nearby Parque del Buen Retiro park. For dessert, choose from a delicious range of pastries at Mallorca, a chain with several branches in the city. If you’re looking for an upmarket dining experience, visit Platea – a dining experience which comprises gourmet food stores, bars and no fewer than 12 restaurants. We recommend Restaurante Arriba for a truly memorable meal.
Whether you prefer to discover top designers, marvel at archaeological finds, take in artwork by Goya and Bosch, simply enjoy the delicious food on offer, or combine all of these, the Salamanca district has something for everyone.