As Old As The Stone Age: Exploring The Historic City Of Madrid

As Old As The Stone Age: Exploring The Historic City Of Madrid

DE 307 | Madrid


Madrid, the capital of Spain and the second largest city in the EU after Berlin, is a financial and cultural hub located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. With its renowned museums, delicious cuisine, and year-round sun, it’s no wonder why it is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 6 million visitors a year.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth explore Madrid with Fiorella Simoes, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Rosewood Villa Magna Hotel. Sharing the stage with her is Maria Jose Jorda, the CEO of GastroCult, a company specializing in curated gastronomy and cultural tours of Spain. We are excited to explore this great European capital city on this episode of Destination Everywhere: Madrid.

Watch the episode here.

As Old As The Stone Age: Exploring The Historical City Of Madrid With Fiorella Simoes and Maria Jose Jorda

Madrid, the capital of Spain, is called the Paris South of Europe. Founded in the 9th century, it is considered one of the most sustainable cities in the world by Madrid is a walking city where you can wander for days, traversing its wide streets and taking a quick bite in local restaurants. It is also home to the Golden Triangle of Art, the three best European museums: Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Reina Sofia.

Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill highlight the major attractions and the best cuisine the city has to offer in this episode.

Fiorella Simoes, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Rosewood Villa Magna Hotel

Fiorella is privileged to manage Rosewood Villa Magna Hotel. This establishment opened for the first time in 1972 as an independent hotel and the largest property in Madrid back then. The hotel takes pride in its concept of ultra-luxury, which gives off the feeling that you are comfortable staying in a private residence instead of high-end accommodation.

Notable Rosewood Facilities

  • The signature restaurant Amós run by a three-star chef who elevates Spanish cuisine while keeping its authenticity.
  • A great spa location with a skilled staff trained by Turkish therapists.
  • An extensive function and events space suitable for up to 500-people cocktail events and even breakout gatherings.
  • A unique accommodation called “houses” that has a welcoming ambiance similar to a private home.

New Amenities In Rosewood

  • Seven fireplaces in the entire lobby level that welcome guests. It was done by Bar Studios together with four other designer studios.
  • A redesigned façade that changes in appearance depending on the time of the day by playing with light reflections.
  • Redesigned gardens and terraces.

Fiorella’s To-Do List

  • Walk the streets surrounding the hotel. Drink some coffee, go shopping, eat at restaurants, and make new friends.
  • Go into a culinary adventure. Try tapas, go to bars, and share food with other people.

Todd and Andy’s Destination Favorites

  1. The Prada Museum Spain’s national museum houses work from the 12th to 20th centuries, including Ruebens, Goya, Velasquez, and El Greco.
  2. Sobrino de Botin is recorded as the world’s oldest restaurant in the Guinness Book of World Records. It has never changed locations since 1725 and is famous for their roasted suckling pigs.
  3. La Cava Baja is known for authentic Spanish cuisine.
  4. El Rastro, Madrid’s Sunday open-air market ongoing for 400 years straight. This is where clothes, collectibles, food, and books are bought.
  5. Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s famous square. A plaque on the ground is labeled Kilometer Zero, marking the geographical center of Spain and the starting point of the six roads branching out of the city.
  6. Chocolatería San Ginés, home to the city’s best churros and hot chocolate, is open all year round.
  7. Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple gifted by Egypt to Spain in the 1960s.
  8. The Palacio Real de Madrid is the largest royal palace in Western Europe. Tours of this historic building are one of the city’s top attractions.
  9. Retiro Park, Madrid’s version of Central Park. A walkable park with different access points suitable for hanging out.

Maria Jose Jorda, CEO of GastroCult

Maria is the brilliant mind behind GastroCult, a company offering experiential food tastings and cultural tours around Madrid and Spain. Her team works with hotels, restaurants, and even chefs to provide memorable services to their clients.

Maria’s To-Do List

  • Eat at Saddle, a place that serves Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. Though it can be a bit pricey, you can be assured of quality as it has two Michelin stars.
  • Visit Café Comercial, an old place from the 19th century. This is a perfect breakfast place, especially for their pancakes and coffee.
  • Check out Café de la Luz, an old establishment that looks like a house from the 18th century. This is suitable for romantic dates.

About Fiorella Simoes

DE 307 | MadridFiorella Simoes had lived in Madrid since the end of 2008 when she joined the team at the Hotel Villa Magna to prepare for the hotel’s reopening as an independent property part of the LHW portfolio after two years of closure undergoing an extensive renovation.

She is absolutely in love with the city, the one considered the best-kept secret in terms of the quality of life, the genuine hospitality of the people, the architecture, the cuisine, the nightlife, and the world heritage sites. She finds Madrid a city full of activity and charm and indeed a city of life!

Born in Milan, at six years old, she moved with her parents to Lisbon, Portugal, where she was raised. Lisbon was the nest of her passion for hotels, as when she was a little girl, her mother, with a degree in hotel management, used to tell her stories about hotels. This sparked Fiorella’s interest and drove her passion for working in a hotel like the Villa Magna one day.

She just refreshed her studies and finished last year a Master’s in emotional Intelligence and, this year, a Digital Marketing Master’s that she felt was necessary to be updated with the new business demands and requirements. She started as a receptionist in a Spanish chain in Vilamoura, in the Algarve. This position evolved to a sales role, then a banqueting position, then back to Sales & Marketing, where her heart truly lies.

She considers the area of Sales & Marketing the department of her choice, as it is very versatile and offers the opportunity to be in touch with clients; she manages a team of twelve people and works with marketing, PR, revenue, and analytics.

About Maria Jose Jorda

DE 307 | MadridMy name is Maria; I was born in Spain, Europe. After my engineering studies, I left the country to work for the European Center of Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. After CERN, I worked in banking, living in the US, UK, and Switzerland.
During that time, I got fascinated by other cultures and gastronomies; I always wanted to taste the best of every region. People put so much love into cooking and telling stories about the places they know!

In 2019 I left my career in banking to create a network of international people who love traveling and eating well. That’s how GASTROCULT was born.

I traveled all over Spain to meet the best chefs and professionals to tell our country’s story. I wanted to become the reference for anyone who truly wanted to know Spanish culture.

GASTROCULT has welcomed many travellers, especially from the US, who have shared their stories, passions, and ways of doing things with us. The exchange has been very valuable for all; we are grateful for having this chance every day.

I GASTROCULT we moved from organizing single experiences to organizing multi-days trips in Spain and Europe. We now have a network of more than 200 partners and a lot of experience selecting the best for every region. From 7 days on, we are asked about unique tailor-made trips that we prepare with so much care.

Are you looking to travel to Spain and Europe? We would be very happy to advise you to get in touch; we are waiting for you.



DE 303 Michele | Boston


MHS President Catherine Allgor Shares Their Beloved Historical Collection And The Langham Managing Director Michele Grosso On The Beauty Of A Federal Bank-Turned-Luxury Hotel

Because of its pivotal role in the American Revolution, Boston became rich in both cultural and scientific aspects. This global city is home to delicious seafood, mesmerizing culture, and colorful traditions. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth delve into the heart of Boston with Catherine Allgor, President of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Michele Gross, Managing Director of The Langham Hotel. Andy and Todd also share their favorite things to visit and do when visiting Boston, from trying out various dishes to seeing historical artifacts that provide a glimpse of the past.

Watch the episode here.



Boston is one of the oldest municipalities in the country, founded by Puritan settlers in 1630. Its pivotal role during the American Revolution made it an intersection of rich cultural and scientific developments. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth go into the heart of this thriving global city, checking out its most interesting stories to tell and the most delicious cuisine to try.

Catherine Allgor, President of Massachusetts Historical Society

The nation’s first historical society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, promotes understanding of the history of Massachusetts and the United States. Founded by Jeremy Belknap in 1791, the organization collects historical materials and resources to preserve them for the next generations.

Catherine’s Favorite MHS Items

  • The sword was carried by the Massachusett’s 54th Volunteer Infantry Regimen, the first military unit of Black soldiers to be raised in the north during the Civil War.
  • All papers of the family of John Quincy Adam
  • A copy of the U.S. Constitution
  • A copy of the Declaration of Independence
  • Thomas Jefferson’s papers, more than the entire State of Virginia
  • The pen used by Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation

What To Look Forward To

  • Hold various events at the MHS’s historic building full of rare carvings
  • Join curated tours for 5-70 people and immerse yourself in an unparalleled setting that feels authentic and magical, guided by MHS’s talented and knowledgeable staff

Andy and Todd’s Boston Favorites

  1. Visit the Quincy Market, full of traditional market stalls featuring local and international specialties.
  2. See the USS Constitution Old Ironsides, the oldest commission ship in the U.S. fleet, launched in 1797.
  3. Eat lobster rolls in Neptune Oyster, known for some of the best seafood in the world.
  4. Go to Chinatown, the third-largest in the country, located on the southern edge of Boston.
  5. Appreciate the personal collection of Isabella at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, composed of priceless European, Asian, and American art.

Michele Grosso, Managing Director of The Langham Hotel

Michele became The Langham’s new Managing Director in 2019, ahead of its historic $200-million renovation. A four-star and four-diamond property located in Boston’s financial district, it is only a 10-12 minute drive from the airport. The hotel’s main structure was the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

After the renovation, most of the building’s outside façade was left intact, but the rooms inside were rebuilt and redone. It perfectly blends classic and modern architecture, giving a strong Boston vibe to every guest or traveler.

Notable Facilities

  1. Wyeth Room
  • Used to be the office of the bank president
  • Other than a new carpet and fresh drapes, the room is restored like it was in 1922
  • Features two huge murals painted by N.C. Wyeth.
  1. Grana
  • A modern Italian restaurant
  • Named after the Italian word for grain and the slang word for cash
  • Used to be the Grand Hall of the bank
  • Features the original floor from 1922 with the seal of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston at the center
  1. The Fed
  • It has outdoor seating and a terrace perfect for summer
  • Very approachable and open to all locals
  • Has beers on tap outsourced from a local brewery
  • Provides an amazing cocktail program and New England fair

Places of Interest Near The Langham

  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace for shopping (8-9 minute walk)
  • North End, Boston, to grab a coffee, buy some cannoli, or have dinner (1-minute walk)
  • Seaport District to explore new restaurants (10-minute walk across the bridge)
  • Boston Common and T.D. Garden to catch a game of the Celtics or Bruins (12-minute walk)

Michele’s Boston Bucket List

  • Do the harbor and see the entire city from the water
  • Join the Freedom Trail

About Michele Grosso

DE 303 Michele | BostonMichele Grosso joined The Langham, Boston, in 2019 in advance of its historic renovation as the new Managing Director. Before joining The Langham, Boston, Grosso spent most of his career with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Over the last 28 years, he has worked at some of the most high-profile hotels and resorts within the Four Seasons brand, including Toronto, Milan, Prague, Singapore, Punta Mita in Mexico, and, most recently, Chicago.

A native of Italy, Michele spent part of his childhood living in a hotel in South Africa where his father was the general manager. After spending a summer working at the iconic Hotel George V in Paris when he was 17, he knew he wanted to join the family business and become a luxury hotelier.

About Catherine Allgor

DE 303 Michele | BostonCatherine Allgor is the president of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Previously, she had been the Nadine and Robert Skotheim Director of Education at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, and a former Professor of History and U.C. Presidential Chair at the University of California, Riverside. Allgor attended Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins Scholar and received her Ph.D. with distinction from Yale University, where she also won the Yale Teaching Award. Her dissertation received a prize as the best dissertation in American History at Yale and The Lerner-Scott Prize for the Best Dissertation in U.S. Women’s History. She began her teaching career at Simmons College and has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a Visiting Professor of History at Harvard University.

Her first book, “Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government” (University Press of Virginia, 2000), won the James H. Broussard First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and the Northeast Popular Culture/American Culture Association Annual Book Award. Her political biography, “A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation” (Henry Holt, 2006), was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize. In 2012, she published “Dolley Madison: The Problem of National Unity” (Westview Press) and “The Queen of America: Mary Cutts’s Life of Dolley Madison” (University of Virginia Press). President Obama has appointed Allgor to a presidential commission, The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.

Catherine Allgor also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Women’s History Museum and the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians. She is a member of the Gilder Lehrman Scholarly Advisory Board.

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