The Salamanca area of Madrid, and South through Recoletos and Justicia, is interesting and fun for a few days stay. From here some excellent sightseeing can be done: the major art museums are a walk away, perhaps via the Retiro park; the Plaza Mayor is a bit further; more local Madrid life, particularly nightlife, in Chueca is also accessible.
Salamanca itself boasts an area for good shopping, on foot, in a more relaxed and uncrowded atmosphere than in comparable areas in, say, Paris or London. Department store El Corte Inglese, not a Selfridges, is nonetheless a store to satisfy most shopping tastes, in a relatively hassle-free environment. Calle de Serrano, and streets off it to Calle de Velazquez, house many unusual small shops as well as those of familiar brands. The food market on Calle de Ayala is especially appealing, with foods delightfully presented in smallish stalls, including, among various cafes, a simple Italian restaurant of outstanding quality in a buzzy casual setting for lunch, but booking is often necessary.
There are numerous stylish restaurants in the area. More casual and exceptionally popular with local office workers, is La Maruca on Calle de Velazquez. Lively with a not too big menu, from which the dishes such as pork, anchovies or squid are excellent and reasonably priced for the area. Sagardi on Castellana is reliable for Tapas, also at reasonable prices. Booking is advisable everywhere.
Salamanca hosts various boutique hotels. The Icon Casona (Petit Palace Group) on Calle de Don Ramon De La Cruz has some good rooms, and a nicely served breakfast offering, there is a small bar but limited communal space. Unico on Calle de Claudio Coello is stylish. Hotel Bless on Calle de Velazquez has a spacious bar, “Versus”, which is comfortable for lounging, with an interesting mix of music; a sizeable restaurant, serving a good breakfast; its roof terrace with a small pool and bar area, though sometimes busy, is a venue for tanning in summer and a lazy afternoon. None of these hotels is, however, an all-round must go to and they can be expensive at peak Madrid times.
The South end at Calle de Alcala, brings you to the Retiro park, which is delightful for strolling, bustling at weekends, particularly around Estanque lake, with various groups of musicians, from Jazz to classical, and other entertainers- this is a fun place.
Salamanca is a feelgood area of Madrid and a good base from which to explore the rest of this City, as well as a place to be and take what comes from walking its streets. Wherever one stays in Madrid, even if one might think it a cliché, if possible, a Flamenco show is worth including in the schedule too