OCCUPATION: Director of Fundación Aladina
MY STYLE: I love simple lines and clean proportions—well-made things with a twist. During the day I dress very casually (jeans, t-shirts, blazers, ballet flats), but tend to get more sophisticated at night (red lips and high, high heels!).
I LOVE MADRID BECAUSE: Even though it gets cold, the sun shines most of the year. It’s a great city to just walk around in, because it’s full of cultural activities (museums, music, etc.), great food, and interesting people. The quality of life is fantastic, too; we work hard, but we also get to enjoy our friends and family.
The name of this bar might be misleading—that is, unless you’re used to drinking cocktails in museums! The founder of Museo Chicote (who also had his hand in the nearby Del Diego bar) is known throughout Madrid for inventing his own experimental cocktails, and—as legend has it—Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, and Ernest Hemingway all dared to taste his boozy concoctions.
Cooking Club’s low-key courses (Cooking for Kids, Christmas Cookies, and Vegetarian among them) are all about having fun and meeting other people. The class sizes run small—no more than 12 people per kitchen—so each participant can have easy access to stoves, ovens, and other top-notch facilities.
Parque del Oeste
Spanning the acres between the nightlife-oriented Moncloa district and the City University of Madrid, this scenic park is far less crowded than Retiro. “The views of the city are spectacular from Parque del Oeste, especially at sunset,” says Ishtar Espejo. “We’ll walk or ride our bikes around, always making a stop at the Templo de Debod—an ancient Egyptian shrine that was given to Spain by Egypt.”
During lunch hours, this sophisticated eatery attracts a healthy crowd of 9-to-5’ers on business lunches. With kids, it’s best to go at night, when the crowd is younger and more laid-back, and the food—often with an Asian twist—is just as good. “This place is a must!” says Ishtar Espejo. “The food, decoration, and atmosphere are great, and the terrace is marvelous—a little garden right in the middle of the city!”
Mi Pequeño Lucas
Quality is the focus at this delightful kids’ boutique, which sells bath towels, swim accessories, and shoes in addition to clothes. Frequent customers will always find something new, as Mi Pequeño Lucas releases a collection each season to compliment the store’s signature v-neck sweaters (complete with mini elbow pads), simple dresses, and brightly colored plaid.
If and when you tire of Madrid’s culinary standbys, you’ll love the blatantly international menu at VIPS—featuring everything from lasagna to burritos to hamburgers. While many come for the classic American-style breakfast, Ishtar Espejo goes for any meal of the day. “Our whole family loves it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!” she says.
Bikram Yoga Center
Heat is what distinguishes Bikram from other types of yoga, and Madrid’s Bikram Yoga Center has sweating down to a science. The studio rooms reach 60 percent humidity, and the ideal fat-burning temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Ishtar Espejo likes to intermix these 90-minute intensives with other types of yoga.
Don’t hesitate to ask the staff for guidance at Lavinia, as the amazing selection can also be overwhelming. Indecisive shoppers will also love the company website, where wines are classified by such helpful categories as bio wine, top ten favorites, bottles under ten euros, novelty wines, and wines by region. For true aficionados, Lavinia offers a club, through which members can enjoy events, lectures, and, of course, retail bargains!
When Ishtar Espejo needs a lamp, rug, or any touch of home decór, she’ll go to Passage Privé. “This vintage furniture store brings in tons of fun stuff from France, like garden furniture and mannequins,” says Espejo. What’s more, the boutique also has an impressive collection of old posters and signs from the 1950s and ’60s. Signage featuring such logos as Michelin and Campari comprise a surprisingly chic feature of the store.
Art Lab’s highly trained stylists might help models and actresses on set, but they also make house calls to their customers. “I have them come to my house when I need help before a party,” says Ishtar Espejo. “And if Nicolas or I need a haircut, I always trust Art Lab. The world-renowned stylists and make-up artists always use Aveda products… and are incredibly nice!” she adds.
Madrid may be known for its sherry and cañas, but you’ll want to branch out at Del Diego, a cocktail bar with a namesake signature drink combining vodka, apricot brandy, and advocaat (a brandy and egg liqueur). Be sure to try the summery daiquiri early in the season, as Del Diego closes up shop for the month of August.