Coming to Madrid soon and you do not know where to stay? There are many, many hotels to choose from, but why not try this apartment right in the heart of the city, in Plaza Mayor? With your own kitchen and all sorts of facilities, staying here will enhance your experience of Madrid and help you feel as a local.  The host, Mario, has raving reviews from his guests. 

If you are looking for a special present and would like to support local businesses and craftmanship, we recommend the following shops:

Lola Fonseca for gorgeous silk scarves and throws, to treat yourself (or somebody you care about) to something truly unique, of excellent quality and beautifully designed and executed. This workshop in the Huertas neighbourhood, in Calle Cervantes number 20, produces veritable works of Art to wear, display or frame. Their silk, velvet, crêpe georgette and wool creations are truly stunning.  They also have fans and evening purses lined in silk.      

If you are looking for great quality children and young adults' books, look no further than the independent bookshop La Mar de Letras.  This award-winning bookshop will assist you with professional advice taking into account the young reader's age and tastes.  Rated amongst the 50 best bookshops in the world, La Mar de Letras is an unmissable port of call for anybody looking for good materials in Spanish language. They are located in Calle Santiago number 18.  

For those of you interested in superb quality, ethically-produced clothing in organic cotton, look no further than Rikkitikkitavi.  This wonderful, sustainable business sells t-shirts with original designs for children and adults as well as artistic prints and stationery products.  Their shop is located near Plaza Mayor, in Calle Santiago, 4. 

Right in the heart of Habsburg Madrid, in Calle del Almendro 10, you will discover unique and original jewelry items handmade in brass or silver with semiprecious stones at Depiedra.  For the last 11 years, jewelry designer and artist Lucía has been finding inspiration in Nature and in the art produced in the 1920s and 1930s to create exquisite rings, pendants, earrings, necklaces and bracelets that render homage to Art Deco and to the essence of feminity as well as to the beauty found in natural shapes.  Her pieces combine perfectly with any outfit and they are the perfect present for a special occasion, with the guarantee that they have been handcrafted.

In the north-west neighbourhood of Chamberi, in Blasco de Garay 66, you will find Minimum Origami, the creation of Spanish architect and origami master Manuel Carrasco.  Entering his workshop is like entering Japan: there are all sorts of animals, characters, geometrical shapes and jewelry inspired by Nature, most of it made with imported Japanese paper.  Manuel teaches origami to fellow architects at the University and at COAM, and he runs small group workshops in Spanish for children and adults in his shop.  

Should you be looking for environmentally-friendly, non-toxic toys, delicious organic food and treats for babies and children in Madrid, head to La Cocinita in Calle Trafalgar 12.  This eco-store stocks all sorts of food, baby accessories and books.  La Cocinita also runs cooking and yoga workshops for children and babies as well as holding toddler playgroups, fabulous birthday parties with cooking experience included and parental support meetings.  

Finally, if you are searching for top-quality, hand-crafted leather goods, Taller Puntera is the place to go to.  The artisans working here have been creating and elaborating fabulous designs in Spanish leather in a wide range of colours since 2009.  Located in Plaza del Conde de Barajas 4, Taller Puntera sells backpacks, belts, wallets, leather-bound notebooks and photograph albums, handbags and shoes. They also hold leatherwork courses.

Across Madrid endorses these businesses and shops as an independent company, and there are no commissions whatsoever involved in our recommendations. We simply have been there and loved these places and resources!

© Almudena Cros, January 2015. Please print a copy of this article to use on your trip to Madrid. It may also be quoted in editorial contexts only, with source and author.