The best clubs in Madrid
Whether you fancy chic cocktails, a pub crawl, or dancing the night away, these are the best clubs in Madrid for exploring the city's incredible nightlife
Tue Apr 22 2014
Madrid's nightlife never stops. From Monday to Sunday, you can go out until the early hours of the morning and end up eating churros with chocolate for breakfast in any café, along with taxi drivers starting their shift. You'll have no trouble finding just the right spot to fit your mood among the myriad bars, big nightclubs, and small pubs that have earned their place on the scene. Here's our selection of the best clubs in Madrid so you can head out and not worry about a thing except having a good time, whatever your taste in music and ambience.
A steady flow of top live acts passes through El Sol, another remnant of the Movida. The décor is not up to much, but the vibe and the programme make up for that. A mixture of rock, rhythm and blues, punk, soul, and hip hop from national outfits are complemented by visits from international acts such as the Bellrays, Snow Patrol and Gigolo Aunts. After the concerts, at weekends, you can stay until dawn enjoying a drink and a dance to classic rock and pop mixed with more current music. The average age of the clientele is late-20s to 30s.
Run by the same owners as the now-defunct RRR Bar, ThunderCat preserves the same spirit and is here to stay. Its speciality is rock with pop tinges. Local bands play covers of international groups like The Beatles, and Thursdays see Jam Sessions dedicated to pop-rock sounds influenced by the classics of the genre. There are also live concerts and DJ sessions at weekends. But don’t expect to find sweaty long-hairs and speed metal in this bar for middle-class kids, where the subdued red lighting gives the place an intimate and interesting touch. The clientele is usually thirtysomethings nostalgic for the sound of the '70s, '80s and '90s but open to new rock styles.
Unusual in that it retains some original trappings of its former incarnation as a 19th-century theatre, in every other respect this is an ordinary high-street club. The vast crammed dancefloor runs the gamut from teenage tribes through to housewives, enjoying staple disco house. One of the classic venues in Madrid where you’re likely to see some famous faces, Joy Eslava also hosts live performances that range from concerts to monologues.
The musical programming here runs from reggae on Thursdays to black music sessions on Fridays, and features plenty of local and Spanish soul singers and bands. Sirocco has two very different environments at weekends: more relaxed on the upper level and more intense, dance-oriented electronic sessions below.
- Critics choice
The Godzilla of Madrid clubs, with splendid views of the main dancefloor from many of the upper balconies: dance voyeur heaven. Of seven storeys, each has something different to offer – the main dancefloor and bars are at ground level; the first floor has karaoke; the second, R&B and hip hop; the third, cosy cocktail bars; the fourth is Spanish disco; the fifth has a cinema and more cool sounds; and at the top is a terrace with a retractable roof. Though you'll be doing a lot of walking, wearing trainers will leave you standing out on the street.
- Atocha, 125, 28012
The fact that this is one of the best-known nightclubs in Madrid means that you’ll often find queues at weekends. But the wait is worth it. The great acoustics, variety of styles, two ambiences and great music make Barco the go-to venue in Malasaña. It’s the perfect place to finish off your night out in the centre. They schedule frequent concerts, and the Friday and Saturday DJ sessions are always popular.
- Barco, 34, 28004
If it's a bit of glamour you're looking for and you actually feel up to the challenge of getting through the door, then you should probably check out Moma 56. Multifunctional in a New York style, the venue is a restaurant, bar and nightclub, with stylish decor and a semi-celebrity crowd. When you set foot on the dance floor, you’ll be dazzled in equal parts by the brands sported by the patrons and the pink and green LED lights moving to the beats of dance and pop music. Be prepared to dig deep into your wallet when heading to any of the four bars. There's even a valet parking service to offer the posh a completely worry-free experience.
- José Abascal, 56, 28003
This is a large and rather select club offering 1,800 square metres for your dancing pleasure. Thursdays begin with hot Latin beats in the ‘Rumba sessions’; Fridays are for ‘Yo Soy Bohemia’ with more commercially-oriented music that have bodies sculpted in gyms moving to a selection of dance beats and top 20 hits. New Garamond is full of the beautiful and the glamorous, peppered with the occasional gold earring and excessively revealing top. You might come across the odd familiar face from the world of television on the dance floor. There are two VIP zones with sofas and a chill-out area upstairs with views of the goings-on below.
- Rosario Pino, 14, 28001
One of Madrid's clubs converted from an old theatre, Changó never falls out of fashion in the city. They've got a session for every night of the week, with a different DJ hosting each, where you can find whatever you're into: deep house, break beat, funk, indie, pop or trance. Though not elegant, this place is a lot of fun. Instead of rich boys dressed in shirts and posh girls wearing top brand names you’ll find a more varied crowd, some even on the grungy side. That explains why the spectacular go-go dancers show off all their muscles and the dancers’ intimate areas are covered by the skimpiest of thongs.
- Covarrubias, 42, 28010
Truly postmodern, this place is outrageously kitsch but with a pop art sensibility that saves it from crossing over too far into tackiness. The fake fur, Star Wars pictures and the faux-cool 1970s psychedelia hang together surprisingly well, and there's a pleasant anything-goes music policy that brings all kinds of sounds from acid jazz to house to soul. The crowd, slightly older and with less to prove, tend to chill out in the easy-going vibe, so the armchairs are a constant temptation, and are always conducive to romantic encounters. Plaid shirts and beers abound in this alternative Malasaña establishment.
- Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26, 28004
Not all the nightclubs in the Salamanca neighbourhood serve expensive gin and tonics to well-dressed clients looking for quiet conversation. On the contrary, Keeper is synonymous with a lively crowd, fun music and dancing till dawn. Its two floors are populated by a mix of students in their last years at college and thirtysomethings looking for fun. Drink prices are in line with other spots in the area, but at least Keeper stays open till the early hours of the morning.
- Juan Bravo, 31, 28006
Weekend is one of the longest-standing and most successful Sunday club nights, with a funky feel. Resident DJ Roberto Rodríguez downshifts a gear from the harder revolutions of his other appearances and cruises with Latin and nu jazz. Having been a haven of electronica on Sundays in Madrid for years, Weekend now also functions as a special session at After Goa, so the tireless masses can carry on dancing after the Goa macro festival. Here you’ll find quality resident and top-name visiting DJs, LED lighting, disco-style glass balls and a clientele that is as happy wearing stiletto-heeled boots as baseball caps and T-shirts.
- Plaza Callao, 4, Sala Bash, 28013
- Critics choice
While some nights come and go with alarming frequency, Trip Family's Ohm is one that's here for the duration. Strictly speaking it's a gay night, but it's too much fun (and too central) for the straight crowd to stay away. The result is a friendly party atmosphere with soulful, vocal-driven house tracks mixed to perfection by residents Kike Boy and Tetsu. It offers all the ingredients of a great disco: plenty of space, people eager to dance and multicoloured lights.
- Plaza Callao, 4, 28013
Rising up from the ashes of the old Medea, this lesbian venue promises a lot with its thematic party nights and afternoon cultural activities. The music here is varied, ranging from indie and revival sounds to electropop and DJ sessions. The owners are original thinkers and are constantly renewing the programme and trying to surprise their customers. Check out their Facebook page and Twitter account to find out about concerts and live performances.
- Cabeza, 33, 28010
This dance club exudes luxury and class. Its clientele flaunt their luxury cars and expensive clothes. That’s why one of its main strengths is its discretion. There’s an imposing stage, lit by a large array of LEDs and plenty of chairs lining the walls to sit back and have a drink. The long drinks list includes vodka and gin in Magnum, Jeroboam and Mathusalem formats and, of course, expensive champagne. There are also a number of VIP zones which are frequently occupied by celebrities.
- Velázquez, 6, 28001