One of Madrid’s Hidden Treasures: El Horno: a uniquely welcoming dance and fitness center

Classical Ballet, Flamenco, Contemporary, Zumba, Acrobatics, Kung Fu, Hand Balance, Pole Dancing, Tango, Yoga, Pilates, Crossfit, Jazz, Hip-hop, Bollywood, Afro-contemporary, Workshops, Studio-rentals, Castings and everything else…

El Horno, meaning “the oven”, is a funky and fantastic three-story fitness and dance center near metros La Latina, Lavapiés and Tirso de Molina. A family-run business, El Horno is serious about fitness, offering more than 80 activities taught by highly-trained instructors at affordable rates. But what really stands out for me is its down-to-earth feel and welcoming décor.

Tucked within a typically-old, red-shuttered Madrileño building on Calle Esgrima (esgrima means fencing, and they offer that too), you’ll find a mix of 19th century charm with 21st century amenities. Like a fantasy treehouse, a labyrinth of staircases leads you to dance studios of varying sizes while music wafts through the halls from every corner. Framed photographs of teachers and overflowing bulletin-boards line the walls. Colorfully tiled indoor and outdoor plant-filled patios with free WIFI invite you to sit, relax, mingle, read, stretch or rehydrate between classes.

In addition to dance classes, El Horno also has a full-service gym with workout machines equipped with individual TV screens and Internet, as well as a wide array of fitness classes for all levels (if you really want to sweat, try Crossfit, wow!).

The bilingual staff will help you choose from the myriad of classes and payment plans; from drop-in dance classes to long-term fitness programs. And if you just want to explore, El Horno offers different open classes every week that cost 5E so you can try out the regularly-scheduled activities without breaking the wallet or making a commitment.

I’ve been going to El Horno for more than two years now. I used to have the Fitness Plus plan which includes access to dance classes and the gym. I enjoyed it because I knew I could go there at any time of day and there would always be a dance class I could take, from Jazz and Classical Ballet, to Bollywood and Afro-contemporary. Now I’m pushing myself to try things I never saw myself doing, such as Acrobatics, Pole Dancing and Hand Balance.

3 Monthly Plans: Schedules & Rates

  1. Tarifa Fitness: gym access + fitness classes

  2. Fitness Plus: gym access + fitness classes + numerous dance classes

  3. Ciclo Indoor (Spinning) (can be added onto the other two plans)

Outside the Monthly Plans: Full Class Schedule + Prices

  • 5E: open classes

  • 93E: 12 class coupons (1h=1 coupon or 1.5h=1.5 coupons)

  • 10.50E-15E: drop-in classes

Information:

Address: C/ Esgrima, 11

Metro: Tirso de Molina, Lavapiés, La Latina

Website: www.centroelhorno.com

Telephone: +34 91 527 57 01

Email: info@centroelhorno.com

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Drink like a Spaniard

drinks

Madrid certainly has a thriving drinking tradition and the vibrant neighbourhood of Malasaña is one of the best in the city in which to take part. Nestled in its narrow streets is the ever-bursting Casa Camacho, renowned for its knockout concoction of vermouth, gin and soda water, which goes by the name yayo.

Casa Camacho, Image via El Pais

Casa Camacho, Image via El Pais

The drink earned its name – a colloquial term for ‘grandpa’ – through its traditional popularity amongst the older generation. But it’s recently been given a new lease of life by many young madrileños owing to its high alcohol content, low price and surprisingly sweet taste.

The bar is an experience in itself. There’s a photo hung proudly on the wall, dated some years earlier, of the brothers who still run it today. Along with the ancient bottles gathering dust behind the bar, it’s a testament to yayo’s stoic popularity. No doubt at some point during the night, probably a few yayos in, you’ll find yourself crawling under the counter and squeezing between the bar staff – not through pure drunken confusion (though this is inevitable after the third), but because that’s where you’ll find the in-house toilets! Casa Camacho is unique, always friendly and unfailingly lively.

For an experience further south in the city, head to Venencia. The building’s façade being little wider than the door itself, this antique bar is easy to miss. Upon entering, its near 100 years are visible in the cracked walls, discoloured posters and battered wooden furniture. There’s such a sense of history that you feel as though time’s stopped still.

Inside La Venencia, image via TourismoMadrid.net

Inside La Venencia, image via TourismoMadrid.net

Here, the speciality is sherry (Vino de Jerez to the locals), and can be tried in five different varieties. As you work your way through them the bar staff will mark your tab up in chalk on a blackboard behind the bar! Even the resident cat, who can be found docile and curled up in a corner, appears to enjoy the effects of the wine, perhaps a little high off the pervading oaky haze!

Casa Camacho: Calle de San Andrés, 4 28004

La Venencia: Calle de Echegaray, 7 28014

Días Nordicøs

Image via Diasnordicos.com

Image via Diasnordicos.com

When you hear the word “Nordic”,  you might think of Ikea or Bjork.  But there is so much more to the Nordic culture and this festival is a fun and creative way to learn more about it. From now until October 31st, the Días Nordicøs festival is being celebrated in the cities of Madrid and Valencia.

Clothing home goods and more at Dias Nordicos

Clothing home goods and more at Dias Nordicos

This festival includes clothing, home goods, live music and even theatre performances from various Nordic countries.  Every night, you can attend these shows in various venues throughout Madrid and Valencia. Most of the events are free and some of the live music or theatre performances do charge a small ticket price and require that you purchase tickets in advance. Check their site for more information.

Image via Diasnordicos.com

Image via Diasnordicos.com

When: From now until October 31st

Where: Various locations, check Diasnordicos.com for details

 

6 Madrid blogs you should know about

Best Burger in Madrid! Where you know where to get it? Image via Lasmesasdevanessa.com

Best Burger in Madrid! Would you like to know where to get it? Image via Lasmesasdevanessa.com

Whether you’re passing through Madrid for a week or for good, here are some additional great English blogs about the city that will help you feel at home.

1. Lingobongo –language exchanges, meet-ups, job offers, etc.

Image via Lingobongo.com

Image via Lingobongo.com

Need a flat? A job? A blender? Lingobongo is by far the ultimate blog for foreigners in Madrid (and for Spaniards too!). Everything from hiking activities to language exchange meet-ups are posted here. Thanks to this site, I’ve personally found a number of English-teaching jobs and language exchange partners who are now my good friends.

2. Esmadrid.com – complete city guide

Image via Esmadrid.com

Image via Esmadrid.com

It simply has it all–from the latest Prado exhibit to Spain’s national dance and theater performances. Aside from its all-inclusive events calendar, you can also book tickets on the site.

3. Madridfree – free (or up to 3E) activities, updated daily

Image via Madridfree.com

Image via Madridfree.com

So this website isn’t in English, sorry. But it’s so good that you must use it anyway, and plug it into google translate if need be. Several free events are posted daily that are going on in all neighborhoods of Madrid, such as photography exhibits, movie showings, music concerts and city activities. I check it out twice a day, literally.

4. Las Mesas de Vanessa – a local’s guide to Madrid’s best eateries

Image via Lasmesasdevanessa.com

Image via Lasmesasdevanessa.com

When it comes to finding good food, nothing beats a local’s advice. Vanessa, a foodie from Madrid, has always eaten well, whether she’s in Tokyo, Chicago or Edinburgh, thanks to the advice of local bloggers. Now she’s returning the favor by creating her own blog about her favorite restaurants in Madrid, and her choices are divine.

5. My Little Madrid – favorite spots from a local

Image via Mylittlemadrid.com

Image via Mylittlemadrid.com

A female-friendly blog made by native Madrileñas, here you can find out about hundreds of great places to go to in the city–weekend getaways, bikram yoga classes, restaurants, you name it–all from a local’s point of view.

6. Cheapinmadrid.com cheap and free events in Madrid

Image via Cheapinmadrid.com

Image via Cheapinmadrid.com

As the name suggests, Cheap In Madrid posts about affordable and fun things to do all around the city, and is updated frequently by a group of contributing writers from South Africa, Australia, U.S., and Spain, who all call Madrid their home.

Do you know of any other useful Madrid blogs? Let us know so our list can keep growing!

 

Rústika Café ; A great pick for drinks and bohemian romance

The front of Rústika Café

The front of Rústika Café

Recently, I visited a bar called Rústika Café in the neighborhood of Malasaña. After nearly 4 years in Madrid, I can say that I’ve probably been to at least 100 bars or so and this is one is now one of my favorites. Its casual, yet very unique because they’ve managed to combine several different settings into one.

One of the rooms at the Rústika Café

One of the rooms at the Rústika Café

Its got three levels and each one is divided into rooms, each with its own theme and décor. At Rústika Café, the food, like the décor, is inspired by various countries and includes items like cous cous, tostones (fried plantains), and humus. They also offer a special brunch menu on Sundays.

Inside the Rústika Café at night

Inside the Rústika Café at night

This is the type of place where you can go, get a table and share a bottle of wine and simply stay for hours. The setting is very private and unlike a lot of bars in Madrid, they don’t have fluorescent lights. Between the music, the subtle lighting and the various themed rooms, this place is quite versatile. Whether you go on a date or with some friends to have one of their spectacular gin and tonics, this is a nice change from the usual tapas bars in Madrid.

Where: Located at Calle Minas 18

Metro: Noviciado or Tribunal

Hours: Open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7pm to 12:30am

Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 2:30am

Sundays from 1pm to 4pm