For the 50+ Traveler

Restaurante Botin is a cozy, family-owned restaurant in Madrid, Spain, located next to the Plaza Mayor and known for its traditional Spanish dishes. It also holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest restaurant in the world, operating in the same location with the same 18th-century interiors for nearly 300 years.

The restaurant was opened in 1725 by French chef Jean Botin, initially as an inn and tavern, under unique conditions and restrictions. Throughout the 18th century, it was illegal for tavern-owners to sell food themselves. Instead, diners would bring their own meat, wine, and food, and the restaurant would prepare it for them. This was a common Spanish practice not exclusive to Botin’s establishment, but Restaurante Botin is one of the few inns and taverns that has survived to this day, eventually transitioning into a modern-day restaurant.

El Botin, the world's oldest restaurant.

While Jean Botin and his wife had no children of their own, after their deaths the restaurant was passed down to a nephew and kept in the Botin family for generations. This is why the restaurant is also referred to as Sobrino de Botin, which means “Nephew of Botin.” The Botin family ran the restaurant until the 20th century, when ownership transitioned to a new family -- the Gonzalez family. It remains in their care to this day.

While the restaurant’s primary draw is its food, the beauty and history of the building itself are a close second. Antonio Gonzalez, general manager of Restaurante Botin, refers to his business as a restaurant museum. There are four floors, the original firewood stove, and a wine cellar that’s even older than the restaurant.

Interior of Restaurante Botin in Madrid.

Like most businesses in Spain, the restaurant had to temporarily cease operation due to the coronavirus pandemic -- a historic moment for the business, as the establishment had gone nearly 300 years without shutting its doors. This will not impact their Guinness World Record, but instead marks another period in history that the establishment has lived through. The building has been a witness to the Spanish Civil War and hosted famous figures such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Hemingway even references Botin and his roast suckling pig in his novel The Sun Also Rises. Known as cochinillo asado, the suckling pig remains the restaurant’s most well-known dish. The meals are cooked over the original firewood stove, and the delicious smell of the kitchen wafts throughout the restaurant.

Suckling pig at Madrid’s Restaurante Botin.

Restaurante Botin’s goal is to celebrate Madrid’s customs and history in every bite. The restaurant has reopened after its brief closure, and reservations are available again. By visiting this Guinness World Record-holding oldest restaurant, diners themselves get to be part of its history. For additional Madrid and dining-in-Spain inspiration, consider: