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Need Suggestions for Christmas (Madrid) and New Years (Barcelona)


We just booked our trip to Spain. We will arrive in Madrid on Christmas Day. I understand most things will be shut down due to the holiday and that any restaurants that will be open will be booked ahead. That is why I am asking now...any suggestions for where we can get some dinner on Christmas Day in Madrid and New Year's Day in Barcelona? We are adventurous eaters...so nothing really off limits. Thanks for any help!

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  1. My experience living here is that there are very few places open for lunch on those days. In addition, transportation is also limited. Spanish restaurant workers and cab drivers want to spend the day at home. My suggestion would be that you resign yourself to eating at your hotel those days (or some other nearby hotel to which you can walk) as their dining rooms will be open. You could probably reserve in advance for the restaurants. Some places will be open in the evening but since Christmas and New Year's fall on Tuesday this year, those too will be few. If you like, I'll check around for you; post a message with the area in which you are staying. And perhaps some other Madrid resident will have another idea.

    4 Replies
    1. re: kathinmadrid

      In Madrid, I have been looking at apartments in the Austrian Quarter. In Barcelona, we'll likely be in the El Born area or the Gothic Quarter. Any suggestions are appreciated, restaurants or markets (since we have a kitchen). It doesn't have to be fancy, since we'll have other evenings to dine out. Thanks for your help!

      1. re: chefsofee

        If I don't hear of anything else there will at least be a restaurant open in the Hotel Tryp Ambassador which will be near you (as well as all the other major hotels in the Puerta del Sol and Gran Via areas). Since you arrive on Christmas Day, of course no stores or markets will be open to get anything for that day. But the next day you'll be able to go to the San Miguel market which is next to Plaza Mayor and the El Corte Ingles (big department store) grocery. Sorry I can't make any comment about Barcelona and if I hear of anything interesting in the next few months I'll let you know.

        1. re: kathinmadrid

          I believe Mercado San Miguel is closed for renovations (at least it looks that way when I walk by and it has been dwindling for the past years as they closed stands down to do some kind of regime change). Mercado de la Cebada is nearby. Also, not far, the market near metro Antón Martín or Mercado de los Mostenses near the Gran Vía.

          Some restaurants are open for lunch on Christmas day. I think fewer are open for dinner.

        2. re: chefsofee

          What sites have you used to look for apts. in the Austrias quarter? For raw materials for cooking, go to the Anton Martin traditional market. Or for upscale everything (fruit, veggies, cheese, ham, shellfish, jamon) go to the traditional Mercado de la Paz on Calle Ayala in the Salamanca district. Great tapas and shopping around that market as well.

      2. Kath and Butterfly,

        Thanks for all your suggestions. Looks like we have an apartment booked in Madrid (still working on Barcelona). It is on Calle del Almendro. It is very close to Cava Baja. I was looking at the following places: Posada de la Villa, El Schotis, Taberna los Lucio or Taberna Tempranillo. Do you think any of them would be open on Christmas Day? Any opinions on them?

        4 Replies
        1. re: chefsofee

          Hi chef, Cava Baja is a great area with lots of good restaurants and tapas places. Those you name are all very well-respected and good choices. Casa Botin (oldest restaurant in the world) is also just a few blocks away and since it's big may well be open on Christmas. I'll check on schedules for you as December nears; it's still too soon to ask. Do you speak any Spanish? Two forum-type websites I like with information about restaurants are: www.salir.com and http://11870.com

          1. re: kathinmadrid

            That's just a few blocks from where I live! Tempranillo is just a wine bar (with tapas and other dishes, but not a full-service restaurant). I very much doubt that it would be open on Christmas day. A place like Posada de la Villa might be a good bet, since as Kath says it is a big restaurant and has a tourist appeal. You might also look into Julian de Tolosa, Asador Frontón, Botín...

            1. re: butterfly

              Chefsofee---we did that same trip 4 years ago. Madrid was DEAD on Christmas Eve---I made reservations by e-mail for dinner at a fancy hotel that was written up in an NYT article on "hotel dining on Madrid" (sorry, can't remember which one). It was a set menu, two seatings, with different wines at each course. I would say hotel dining may be your best bet; as we were walking back to our hotel, we ran into tourists who were starving and who asked US if any restaurants were open. Christmas Day was pretty dead too---we went to Toledo where almost everything but the shops were closed, had a mediocre lunch at the only open restaurant.

              I also e-mailed Botin for a Christmas day reservation. I know Botin gets mixed reviews but we loved it---surprisingly it didn’t feel full of tourists and we had a great meal---my family still talks about the garlic soup and the roast pork. Christmas Day night Madrid seemed back to normal---8 grillion people on the streets, it seemed like most of the bars and clubs were open---maybe people had had enough of family time.

              We were in Barcelona for NYE---I had again e-mailed Sette Portes for NYE reservation, and it too was wonderful. We could not get a taxi---our hotel called twice, and we finally gave up and took the subway---so we were really late for our reservation. They couldn’t have been nicer! Great meal (again set menu, including splits of cava) and even though we had planned to be out on the town at midnight they didn’t rush us out---so we were there for the 12 grapes at midnite ritual. My memory of New Year’s Day is understandably foggy---but I think I remember Barcelona being wide open.

              Anyway, long winded way of saying I think e-mailed rezzies are the way to go.

              This year we’re doing the opposite---we land in Barcelona on Christmas Day and be in Madrid for NYE. I’m thinking of doing a nice late lunch on NYE, or visiting Sergovia that day, and then going back to Botin for New Year’s Day.

              I know it's "not about food" but how did you find your Madrid aparment? I'm having a hard time...

              1. re: corndog1

                If you decide to try to get reservations via email (which really can be dicey for a lot of places), I recommend calling to double-check when the date gets closer--especially if you do it way in advance. Also, if you don't get a response in the first few days, try calling. Here in Madrid, reservations are still mostly handled over the phone or in person, so that's always safest unless you are dealing with a place with an international sort of mindset.

                Botin is quite touristy, but for good reason. It's got a great history, location, and lots of charm. If you don't get a response via email, I'd be happy to drop by and ask them if they are open that day. I walk near there almost every day.

        2. Good suggestions there from Corndog. Botin does indeed have a website, www.botin.es so trying for a reservation on Christmas day by e-mail is a good idea. I love the place and take all my visitors there. The food is always good and the place has a lot of character.

          1. Thanks guys! You have all been SO helpful. Looks like the apartment I wanted on Almendro is a no-go. So now I am working on one on Conde de Romanones. Looks like we won't starve on Christmas Day ;) I just can't tell you how much I have appreciated your suggestions.

            I sent an email to Botin. It looks intriguing! I'll let you know what I hear back!

            4 Replies
            1. re: chefsofee

              I have reservations on Christmas Day at Botin! WooohoooO!

              1. re: chefsofee

                When you are in barcelona, check out this unique tapas place called commerc24. Outstanding. Also, check out Cal Pep in Barcelona. I think it is in the El Born section. Again, amaxzing tapas. These were my two favs in Barcelona

                1. re: italiana3

                  Commerc 24 was my favorite spot in BCN, I wouldn't miss it! Especially their cuttlefish ravioli, and their rice with ink!

                  Also there is a place that is pricey that has a great view, it sits on top of the cable car, it might be cool for New Years if it is open. It was called Torre D'alta Mar the view is incredible. The entrees were good too, but I didn't like the apps.

                  Also if Pinotxos is open in the mercat do go!

                  We got an appartment in BCN I think from friendlyrentals.com it was wonderful it was a couple blocks up from plc. de catalunya we loved the location.

                2. re: chefsofee

                  Hi - I just emailed Botin today and was told they are closed Dec 24-31st. You may want to check again to see if that reservation is valid. Good luck!

              2. Good job on the reservation, Chef. You're going to love the place; the food is so good. And it's good to know they're open on Christmas.

                8 Replies
                1. re: kathinmadrid


                  Thanks! We are very excited. All of you have been so much help.

                  It's been very hectic for the past few days trying to find a place to stay in Madrid. We have an apartment booked in the Born area of Barcelona. All the apartments in Madrid had restrictions regarding minimum nights to stay. So, we booked a hotel called Room Mate Alicia, do you know anything about it? It looks fine and central, but would love anyone else's take on it. We could also stay at a loft at the Hotel Plaza Mayor (with kitchen, etc.).

                  1. re: chefsofee

                    The "Room Mate" hotels are great. I'm across the street from the "Mario"; "Laura" and "Alicia" are others in the chain. A recent Fodor's article placed the Mario in the 10-best in Europe for price/value, etc. so I assume that all fall into that category because the other two are even newer than the Mario which opened two years ago. You're going to have a wonderful time in Spain, especially at the Christmas season which is non-stop activity. I don't recall if you said the date that you are leaving Spain but the holiday season runs until January 6 which is the biggest day of the Christmas holidays (the feast of the three kings) so the night of the 5th is a big deal (parades, etc.) and the 6th is once again a holiday like Christmas day and New Year's Day.

                    1. re: kathinmadrid

                      Quick question if you don't mind Kath! Of the 3 (Mario, Laura, and Alicia) are there any advantages of one or the other in terms of location in your opinion? I had read about Mario, too! They have a pretty cool website too.

                      I wish we were staying until the 6th. We actually leave on the 2nd. Now that I have the accomodation finally square away I am more relaxed and getting REALLY excited about our trip!!

                      Thanks always for your help!

                      1. re: chefsofee

                        Chef, you may also want to make a reservation for New Year's Eve in Barcelona, too. It was CRAZY when we were there!. Besides Sette Portes, our favorite restaurant was La Creme Canela, on Placa Reial (sp?)---we ate there twice!

                        1. re: corndog1


                          Set Portes LOOKS FANTASTIC. Love their menu! I have an email to them on the way. Will let you all know what I hear!

                          1. re: corndog1

                            We have our reservations at Set Portes! They were wonderful to deal with via email.

                          2. re: chefsofee

                            I've only seen these hotels from the outside, but they look great. The Alicia is in the most hopping location on the southeast corner of Plaza Santa Ana. A pretty, but touristy spot, with lots of late night partying going on in the nearby blocks. The other two locations are on quieter side streets in los Austrias/Ópera. They are all within 10/15 minutes walking distance of each other. I also recently walked by a new hotel, Oscar, that they are opening up soon on the edge of Chueca.

                            1. re: butterfly

                              Butterfly, "hopping" definately won't bother me. We are a "40-something" couple, will we feel out of place? :)

                    2. All three are in prime downtown locations near shopping, museums, monuments, restaurants, everything. I don't see an advantage of one over another. And Corndog's comment about making a reservation for New Year's is also a good idea. New Year's Eve, like Christmas eve, is a night in which Spanish people dine at home with their families. So again not many restaurants open. Those that do open on New Year's often put on a gib party for the diners with music, graps at midnight, etc. But that's what's available. Good luck and keep in touch. Kath

                      1. That was meant to say a "big" party and "grapes" at midnight!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kathinmadrid

                          I love the 12 grapes thing! I can imagine we'll be doing every New Years from now on! :)

                        2. I'll be in Barcelona for NYE with my family. We are 11, maybe we can all meet and have agreat party lol. I have a friend in Barcelona and she 's sending me info as soon as the restaurants start advertasing for New Years. I'll share it .

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Martha C.

                            Hey Martha!

                            Where are you from? We are only 2...so we'd definately be outnumbered! ;) Please feel free to share any information from your friend! Thanks!

                            1. re: chefsofee

                              Hello, we are also planning a trip to barcelona for nye! We are staying at hotel grau, has anyone been there? Apart from the rooms they also rent apartments,are they worthy? Chefsofee, we as well have made reservations at 7portes but also considering "les caracoles", you might want to check it out!

                          2. Hi!
                            I'm also planning going to Spain for Christmas and New year this year. I will be in Madrid for Christmas and New Year in Barcelona and the restaurant stuff is also bothering me now..
                            I will be staying in room mate Oscar and Mario (Ha..wanna try both since both looks good in website) and I made the reservation in Botin in 12/25 (so at least I will have on meal that day..). But the problem is 12/24. I have tried several places and they all closed in Christmas Eve. Any suggestion? and I'm also wondering if shops in Gran Via or Serrano st. open in 12/24? as well as some other tourist spots?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: jerriechen

                              Hi! Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions/info about eating in Spain on Christmas Day. Four of us will be visiting the Granada/Malaga area Dec 19 to 27th.Does anyone know of any particular restaurants there that may take reservations for Christmas Day. Since these places are smaller than Madrid, is it accurate to assume that it will be even more difficult to find places to eat on both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve? Same for coastal towns like Nerja, Estepona?
                              Thanks! dchristina

                              1. re: jerriechen

                                Well Jerriechen, I think the 24th is even more of a problem than the 25th for food. I inquired of a hotel owner friend of mine for you and he answered the "Hotel Wellington". So perhaps not even all the hotel dining rooms are open? I'll keep checking and will post another message here. Perhaps one of the other madrid people could do the same. Shops will be open on the 24th either until 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. People are out shopping that day.

                                1. re: kathinmadrid

                                  Hi Kathinmadrid,butterly, thanks for the reponse!
                                  I looked at website for Hotel Wellington...Hmmm..5-star hotel, probably can't afford a Christmas dinner there..
                                  Currently I booked lunch at "Posada de la Villa" for 12/24. At least they open for lunch. So probably have more for lunch and find some snacks to eat later at night. Will some Tapa places or bar open that night? My tourbook introduced some like "Museo del Jamon, "Casa del Abuelo" and "Mesou del Champinon"..Will this kind of place open at that night and if they're good?!

                                  1. re: jerriechen

                                    Jerriechen---A few years ago we had Christmas Eve dinner at Hotel Europa---my memory is that it wasn't as much as Wellington---it was very festive, multiple courses, champagne to start, matched wines--prix fixe only, 2 seatings. We went shopping that day, everything was open till around 6. Then literally everything shut down---bars, stores---we didn't see a single place that was open either going to dinner or on the way back. P.S.---I booked via e-mail and they were very responsive and helpful)

                                2. re: jerriechen

                                  Definitely. The two nights of the year when pretty much everything in Madrid is closed are Dec 24th (Nochebuena) and, to a lesser extent, the 31st (Nochevieja--though many restaurants have special events this night). Even touristy places like Botin are closed. Not a creature is stirring in the streets until after midnight. It's eerie. I know of a good down and dirty Chinese place in that area that might be open on the 24th... Or you could have a big lunch and then get some good stuff to snack on that night. I would enlist the help of the hotel staff. They are sure to have some other ideas.

                                  1. re: butterfly

                                    Hello, we are also planning a trip to barcelona for nye! We are staying at hotel grau, has anyone been there? Apart from the rooms they also rent apartments,are they worthy? Chefsofee, we as well have made reservations at 7portes but also considering "les caracoles", you might want to check it out!

                                    1. re: butterfly

                                      yeah, my suggestion for christmas day would be to enjoy the burgeoning world of cheap simple neighborhood non-spanish restaurants, either in the emerging china-town near plaza españa/tribunal or in the new row of bangladeshi places in c/lavapies. its a whole different world from el botín and other tourist classics... but there will be time for those during the rest of your stay.

                                  2. My two college age sons are in Madrid looking for something to do also...any suggestions?