IN PICS: How one British woman revived Spain’s love for its own no-frills bars

IN PICS: How one British woman revived Spain's love for its own no-frills bars
Leah Pattem has documented 100 bars for her Madrid No Frills project. All Photos: Leah Pattem / Madrid No Frills
Two years ago, Leah Pattem, 33, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, embarked on a mission to photograph every fading, no-frills bar she ever visited in Madrid.

When her collection finally reached 100, she decided to share them on her blog, hoping to show others what was so special about such everyday places. What she hadn’t expected, however, was that her project would capture the hearts of an entire nation.

“Madrid’s no-frills bars evoke a deep sense of nostalgia in every Spaniard. They were built to last, to be passed down in the family, generation after generation, making them accidental time capsules to the real, working-class Madrid – a side of the city that most foreigners never get to see, but also that local people take for granted,” the founder of Madrid No Frills told The Local

“Despite being lovingly nicknamed ‘lifelong bars’ by locals, they’re increasingly being overlooked in favour of modern, trendy, globalised chains. With low footfall, ageing owners and soaring rent prices, these pretty neighbourhood bars are closing down at unprecedented speeds.”

READ MORE: 'Madrid is a humble city of overlooked treasures and untold stories'

Pattem’s project seems to be working, with her collection of 100 no-frills bars reaching millions of people all around the country and attracting write-ups in several Spanish language media.

“The vision is that of a foreigner, who effortlessly detects the extraordinary in spaces that, to Spaniards, are simply normal,” was the opinion of  one Spanish journalist writing in Yorokobu.

Check out the selection of photos from her collection of 100, below, and next time you see one of these “Paco bars” as they are fondly termed in Spain, spare a moment to contemplate their value…before they disappear forever.

El Palentino on Calle Pez has already closed down after the death of its owner in March 2018. 

Follow Leah's adventures in Madrid on the Madrid No Frills blog, on Facebook and in Instagram