This restaurant and nightclub in the Parque del Retiro in Madrid is part of the park's iconic history. Originating as the "Casa del Contrabandista", or smugglers' house in 1814, the building has seen many different lives, having been built by the king, then handed over to the general public in the 1860s. The latest structural work took 25 years, and the complete internal reforms to turn it from a spa and tearoom into a restaurant and nightclub took almost two years. The results are spectacular.
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The updated design includes many of the historic elements of the building, although, being almost two hundred years old, naturally most of the inside has been completely renovated, only preserving the external structure in its older form. Part of that structure divides the Florida Retiro into four distinct dining spaces, plus one main events room.
In the restaurant element, executive chef Joaquin Felipe Peira works supervising all four dining spaces, which serve a variety of dishes depending on their theme. There are the kioscos, selling a variety of light bites focused on local cuisine; the galería, serving traditional Mediterranean food and tapas; the terraza, an open space in the treetops, on the roof of the restaurant, with amazing views and a bar; the pabellón, a typical restaurant overlooking the Parque del Retiro and serving Spanish haute cuisine; and the sala, a room where you can enjoy the various culinary offerings of the Florida Retiro whilst watching one of the many great shows they put on.
It is in the Sala that we can experience a phenomenal transformation by night. Completely renovated by esteemed Madrid interior designer Pascua Ortega, this room is perfectly designed to be completely cleared up to the walls, changing it seamlessly from restaurant to club. The main stage hosts the DJ, live band, or whichever performance is chosen for the event of the night.
The Sala has a truly international spirit, embracing cultural and linguistic diversity and providing a glamourous night out, with dinner and a performance followed by a night of dancing and revelry.
The full bar serves a wide selection of local wines, some big name bottles, and classic cocktails for individuals or for groups. But because of the layout and the show, you may prefer to reserve bottle service, so you know that your every need will be attended to for the rest of the night. One thing to make sure you do is find out what the show is going to be in advance. If it isn't to your taste, you may want to come back later just for the club, or visit another night. But if it is, you really need to make sure you make a reservation.
Because of the historic, cultural, culinary, and nightlife values of this venue, a wide variety of people attend it for many different reasons, and it is often completely booked. Make sure to make a reservation, and come dressed business casual. Men need to be in collared shirts, suit trousers, and smart shoes. Women need to be in heels and evening or cocktail dresses. No sportswear or streetwear.