Like a toreador caught off guard, you’ll be knocked off your feet.

By day, Madrid is a city of extravagant palaces, majestic plazas and stately parks; by night, los gatos (the cats), as the city’s inhabitants are nicknamed, prowl the historic avenues until the early hours indulging their passion for decadent nightlife.

Adult chat espana-3

Contemporary Spanish cooking may well be progressive and forward thinking, but, as in most countries, it’s still dominated by men.

Elena Arzak, often lauded as ‘the world’ best female chef’, is a welcome exception.

Born in Orviedo, Patricia Urquiola is one of the most versatile and prolific designers in Europe today, with a roster of clients that many of her contemporaries would kill for: Dior, Louis Vuitton, B&B Italia, Salvatore Ferragamo, BMW and dozens more.

Over her career, her unconventional eye and warm aesthetic approach has turned from furniture to interiors to architecture, and have won her so many ‘Designer of the Year’ awards, it’s very possible she has had to design a cabinet to keep them in.

A gleaming-white, cortijo-style country house, with foot-thick walls and huge shuttered windows, the Hacienda offers grandeur without a whiff of ostentation.

The separate casitas offer real privacy: they're hidden from the main house and share a private pool and garden.

Here’s our current pick of the best hotels to book, as well as an insider guide to bars in Madrid, restaurants in Seville and shopping spots Barcelona.

This sunny Spanish region is best seen from a saddle; riding over scorching scrub-covered lowlands while gazing at the Sierra Nevada range is as romantic as it gets.

And don’t worry about lingering in the linens the morning after – staff will serve breakfast on your verandah no matter what time you emerge…As you might expect from a chef who trained under Ferran Adrià, Paco Pérez creates dishes that could pass as artworks, colourful culinary portraits painted in foams, jus and powders.

But these are not just hollow theatrics – Pérez has a gift for combining flavours that has bagged him a quintet of Michelin stars over the years.

Breakfast, meanwhile, is our signature buffet of hot and cold dishes.