Shops, culture, fine food, the latest trends and fun in a neighbourhood that’ll never go out of fashion
What to see
Where to sleep
Food & drink
In the deep heart of Madrid, next to Gran Vía, Chueca is globally famous, courtesy of its high-spirited atmosphere and lively nightlifescene. Art and history contribute to its being a tourist attraction as well.
Chueca accommodates the Museum of Romanticism, housed in the former palace of the Marquis of Matallana, built in 1776. The museum contains an interesting collection of paintings, furniture and decorative objects from the nineteenth century that give you an idea of how Romantic Madrid used to be. It has works by Goya, Esquivel, Madrazo, Alenza, Gustavo AdolfoBécquer and his brother Valeriano, among other artists. Porcelain dolls, 15 pianos, furniture in the Fernandino and Isabelino styles (named after King Ferdinand VII and Queen Isabella II of Spain, respectively), and the gun used by writer and journalist Mariano José de Larra to kill himself help recreate a genuine Romantic atmosphere.
A few steps away is the Longoria Palace, one of the few fully Modernist buildings to be found in Madrid. Today, crowned by an impressive stained glass dome with a cast iron frame, it’s home to the Spanish Society of Authors (SGAE). Between Chueca and Malasaña, the former Municipal Museum, now converted to History Museum, is worth a visit too. Although the building, in the Baroque style of Madrid, is still being renovated, the temporary exhibition room is accessible to the public, as is the hall dedicated to urban topographies and narratives, which boasts a spectacular scale model of the city made by León Gil de Palacio in 1830. The museum’s collection comprises as many as 60,000 pieces: paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, porcelain objects, coins and postcards that give visitors an idea of what the arts, industries and lifestyles were like when the city was named the capital of Spain in 1561, and how they evolved through time.
While you walk across Chueca, have a look at the Casa de las Siete Chimeneas, home to the Ministry of Culture.
The range of places to sleep in Chueca includes everything from gay-friendly hotels to luxury properties in a contemporary style to bed and breakfasts for travellers on a budget.
La Zona is a gay-friendly hotel with all basic services and affordable rates; it has several apartments for a more independent stay. The Hostal Colors, with rooms painted in different colours, also welcomes gay visitors. Other establishments you can choose from are Room007 Chueca Hostel and the guest house Madrid House, decorated in an adorable kitschy style.
Designer hotels abound in this district. The Room Mate hotel chain owns four establishments in Madrid, one of them in the heart of Chueca. If you like contemporary décor, book a room at the Room Mate Oscar. This hotel, which serves healthy natural breakfast, is great to meet friends at night for dinner or for a drink. Two other places to stay in when you come to Madrid are thePetit Palace Ducal Chueca, a boutique hotel that’s been recently renovated, and the Only You Hotel & Lounge Madrid.
Refurbished and re-opened in 2012, the San Antón Market has become a meeting place for foodies. It has stalls offering fresh produce, a bodega and a dozen show cooking/takeaway businesses where you can buy Greek or Japanese food, seafood, sweets, smoothies and fruit juices. At La Cocina de San Antón, on the upper floor, they’ll cook the products you buy in the market. The rooftop terrace affords nice views of the area.
Modern design and décor are the second name of Chueca’s many cafés, cocktail lounges and restaurants. There’s food from almost anywhere on Earth: Udon and Janatomo (Asian), La Piazzetta, Vesuvio and La Casa dei Pazzi (Italian), Gastromaquia, La Barraca, La Casa Escondida and El Mandil (Spanish), Mythos and Dionisos (Greek), Sabor a mí, Tepic and La Panza es Primero (Mexican), La Cocina del Desierto and Arabia (Arab), and many others.
Finally, in a modern, casual neighbourhood like Chueca, takeaways couldn’t be missing.
Around Plaza de Chueca, one of the main commercial hubs in the area, are a series of stores quite popular with the gay community. Chueca is open to all types of fashion shops, attracting people from Madrid and visitors from other towns and countries.
Calle Hortaleza looks like a huge shop window that exhibits tight-fitting clothes for the most daring, or the youngest. Also, there are gyms, sex shops and bookstores specialising in gay literature, like Berkana; comics, like Panta Rhei; or cookbooks, like A Punto, which has a space for cookery classes as well.
Typical of this neighbourhood are the good number of shoe outlets in and around Calle Augusto Figueroa, where you’ll find fine footwear for men and women from previous seasons at clearance prices.
Interested in getting around Chueca guided by an expert? Book an official guided tour and have a good time!