Even in busy Madrid we can find a space to switch off and let time go by. The people of Madrid regard Zen Place as a landmark destination for a weekend break.
Zen Place is not only a place to stay, but seeks to introduce an eastern philosophy which explores the relationship between body and mind. They say that the people who try it come out with a new lease of life.
Zen Place brings the concept of relaxation to a new level in the centre of Madrid, next to the Retiro. The stars of its services are Ceremonies and Rituals. Ceremonies are 90 minute sessions using techniques from all over the world to produce new sensations.
They include Hot Stone Massage (from California, combining hot and cold stones), herbs from Thailand, pindas (little bags of pebbles) from Tibet, Chi Yang (with a special oil containing powdered gold), Bulgarian attar of roses or a chocolate massage.
Rituals are shorter massages, lasting 60 minutes, but just as effective for taking you away from the outside world and letting you find your centre. There are aromatherapy massage, decontraction and exotic massages such as the Lomi Lomi, originally from Hawaii.
For the less intrepid, Zen Place also offers facial treatments, with appliances or light, and body treatments such as exfoliation or tanning.
Although the treatments are manual, Zen Place also values technology. Its latest acquisition is the Narl Sonic appliance. Using ultrasound, it can visibly slim down parts of the body, without the fat coming back. Another point in the favour of this beauty and wellness centre is that its prices are reasonable.
Relaxing in Madrid
In the midst of the city bustle, you can find corners of Madrid where time seems to slow down. In Café Gijón, for example, on the famous Paseo de Recoletos, the atmosphere invites one to enjoy a moment's peace away from the noisy streets. Another excellent option is to wander around the Retiro park, strolling, sitting on the grass or rowing around the boating pond.
Finally, the Círculo de Bellas Artes is a historic location, home to a multitude of cultural activities, for some mental stimulation.
The technique of eating well
To continue with this feeling of wellbeing, what could be better than sitting down to eat in a good restaurant, of which there are plenty in Madrid. Very near Zen Place we find Kzen, which also combines the best of the East, with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes. The most popular is scampi in sauce.
However, if you want to sample the work of the young chefs who are bringing new fame to Madrid's kitchens, there are abundant options. Three sure-fire successes are Sergi Arola Gastro (awarded 2 Repsol Soles), La Terraza del Casino (awarded 2 Repsol Soles), presided over by Paco Roncero, and the renewed La Broche (awarded one Repsol Sol), with Ángel Palacios as head chef.
If one evening you want to try some of the best cocktails in the city, across the Gran Vía is the temple of the cocktail, Museo Chicote, offering drinks prepared superbly well and a lively crowd at any time of night. For a more laid-back evening, there is nothing like a good jazz concert. In Madrid, this is synonymous with Café Central, one of the must-visit spots in the bohemian Huertas district.