IN PICS: Madrid’s newest rooftop terrace bar has the best views of the capital

Madrid has its fair share of swanky rooftop terraces offering views across the skyline of the capital.

IN PICS: Madrid's newest rooftop terrace bar has the best views of the capital
All Photos: Riu Plaza Hotel.

It’s where the young hip crowds go to drink cocktails at sundown, where professionals meet for an “afterwork” and where parents take their 18-year-olds to celebrate a graduation.

It started with Bellas Artes and Palacio de Cibeles with their unrivalled views up the Gran Via and soon every hotel worth its salt was converting their unloved space once full of air conditioning units and TV aerials into a Scandi-vibed lounger-filled rooftop terrace.

Some offer swimming pools, others tempt with late night DJs, and now anyone who has spent a summer in Madrid knows that there is no better place to catch the evening breeze.

READ ALSO:  Madrid's best rooftop bars

So who would have guessed that yet another lofty spot could create such a buzz?

If you’ve been at the bottom end of the Gran Via recently you’ll have seen the crowds of people lining up to gain entrance to the Riu Plaza Hotel, the newest 5-Star establishment in the city.

The hotel opened its doors in September after a massive renovation within the Edificio España, a polemic building that epitomises Francoist architecture.

When the Edificio España was opened in 1953 it was Spain’s tallest building at 25 floors and with a height of 117 m (384 ft). Designed by General Francisco Franco’s favourite architect Julián Otamendi and his brother in the Neo-baroque style it took five years to build and was considered a “symbol of prosperity” of the Franco-era.

It then became a symbol of the Spanish real estate market’s collapse in 2008. After being sold off to an investment fund just before the bubble burst and standing empty for more than decade, it was then bought by Chinese investor Dalian Wanda for a third of the price, who after wrangling with the city authorities over planning permission, sold it on to the RIU Hotel group.

The hotel has been fully restored to accommodate 583 rooms, some suites with private terraces overlooking the Gran Via, and a swimming pool for guests on the 21st floor. But the cherry on top is the Sky Bar and 360º bar.

Free for hotel guests but open to everyone with an entrance fee of €5 before 6pm rising to €10 after, a lift will take punters up to the top floors where there’s a choice of swanky bar/nightclub ‘De Madrid al cielo’ on the 26th floor below and the open air 360º on the 27th floor.

The views are the best you’ll find in Madrid from every angle. Take in the impressive fortress that is Conde Duque and gaze over the jumble of Malasaña rooftops on one side, while the other gives unrivalled views of the Royal Palace and Casa de Campo stretching beyond to the distant mountain horizon.

Plus there’s views up the Gran Via and stretching all the way to Madrid’s Four Towers up in the business district.

But what has people extra excited is the glass walkway stretching between two wings of the building that gives the sensation of walking in the air – and provides the ultimate location for an instagram snap.






A post shared by Riu Plaza España (@hotelriuplazaespana) on Nov 1, 2019 at 7:07am PDT

Check out these pictures of the view from the top: 

Conde Duque on the left of the image and the towers in the distance.

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‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”