Ignacio Alvarado is having siestas again. For the 57-year-old IT specialist, it is “a pleasure” to be able to walk less than a kilometer and have a short nap right in the heart of Madrid’s financial district. “I’d stopped taking siestas but now I’ve started again,” he explains. Alvarado, who works for different businesses in the area, has become a loyal client of Siesta and Go, the only company in Spain dedicated to providing people with a place to rest.
Only bosses could have a siesta in their offices
Siesta and Go owner María Estrella Jorro De Inza
Not all Spaniards are as lucky as Alvarado. While sleep experts at Spain’s Center for Research say siestas are good for a person’s health, only 58.6% of people in Spain have one, according to the latest study carried out in 2009 by the San Carlos Hospital Foundation of Health Education (Fundadeps) and the Spanish Sleep Association (Asocama). Indeed many Spaniards not only miss out on siestas, they also fail to get the eight hours of sleep recommended by experts.
Alvarado does not live or work in one place. He divides his time between Madrid and Malaga, and has a half-hour siesta whenever he can – which, unfortunately, is not every day. “Before going shopping, I put my head down for a while,” he says. He typically sleeps in a bunk bed and has a quick shower after his nap.
Siesta and Go, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on Tuesday, has a long list of loyal clients. But despite its success, owner María Estrella Jorro De Inza has rejected offers to turn it into a franchise. Since it opened, little has changed at Siesta and Go; except the price, which has been lowered so that more people can enjoy its services, says De Inza. The cost of having a siesta varies depending on the length of time and type of bed. One hour costs €8 in a room and €6 for a bunk. The cost is half for half an hour. The place is simple without any bells and whistles. As well as the 22 beds, there are lockers, showers, a few tables for reading or working and a small cafe. Silence is its most valuable quality.
The idea for Siesta and Go occurred to De Inza when she discovered similar businesses on a trip to Japan. Seeing as “only bosses could have a siesta in their offices,” De Inza decided to open a place where more people would be able to enjoy a moment of rest. Now the business attracts not only city workers but also tourists, such as Sung Jae.
Many Spaniards not only miss out on siestas, they also sleep less than eight hours
Jae, a 25-year-old student, discovered Siesta and Go a year ago on his first trip to Madrid. In his home country South Korea, it’s unusual for people to have a siesta. “People don’t have time for a siesta. It’s all work, work, work, study, study, study,” he says, after waking up from a one-hour nap. Jae is well known at Siesta and Go having returned three times since his first visit. On each occasion he has chosen a bunk bed.
Catalina Campos also prefers bunks. The 21-year-old student, who works as an intermediary for electricity and gas companies, commutes every day from Belmonte de Tajo in the southeast of the region of Madrid to different point across the capital. If she’s in the area, she makes sure she stops by for half an hour or an hour of rest before heading home. It makes her “feel sharper,” says Campos.
Alvarado not only goes to Siesta and Go for a siesta, he is also one of the few clients who spends the night there. It’s better than spending money on big hotels or on places that are far from jobs,” he says. “Time is what’s most important,” he explains, before returning to work, refreshed after a quick nap.
English version by Melissa Kitson.