Where to stay in Madrid

What is the best location for tourists?
Choosing the best location to stay in Madrid. The pros and cons of various areas to stay, and other important things to know before booking a hotel, apartment, hostel, etc. Find the right place to make your stay better! Travel tips by Talusha.
iHotelFinder.infoWhere to stay in Madrid? Best Areas, Places, etc.

It might sound obvious and not original but Madrid is a large city and you have to choose accommodation there wisely, otherwise, you will face the risk of having to walk much more than it is absolutely necessary. First of all, you have to decide what is your goal of visiting Madrid. Based on that you will choose a place to stay.

If you dream of the Madrid’s cultural heritage, then it would make sense to stay in the area of the Prado Museum. You will have not only the Prado Museum but also its neighbors – the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum within an easy reach. If you like fresh air and walking, then this district is absolutely your best bet – right beyond the Prado Museum there is the Buen Retiro Park with the botanical and the zoological gardens where you can have a pleasant time during the Madrid’s heat. If museums and fresh air aren’t all you want from Madrid and you want some shopping, then you should check out Calle de Alcalá and Gran Via. Do you like tapas bars and similar authentic places? Then you should look into hotels in the area of the Anton Martin metro station. Each time you go to the market to purchase some fresh produce you will get a chance to walk the same streets once walked by Cervantes himself and Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s characters. If you are interested in more than just exploring Madrid, and want to visit Toledo, Avila, Segovia, and other cities of Castilla, many of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list, you can reach them easily by trains departing from the Atocha station – there is a number of really decent hotels in this area. Finally, if Real Madrid is the love of your life, it would make sense to take a look at hotels around the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. As a matter of fact, below we will discuss hotels in these and some of the other districts in Madrid.

Hotels in the Downtown of Madrid:

Hotels beyond the Downtown of Madrid:

Besides, we will discuss some of the characteristic features of hotels in Madrid, and the option of renting apartments.

What Area is the Best to Stay in Madrid?

Prado Museum Neighborhood

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As it was already mentioned above, the district of the Prado Museum (Museo Nacional del Prado) has a very convenient location if you are interested in the museums of Madrid. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) and the Reina Sofia Museum (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía) are within a 10-minute walk from here. Additionally, you can enjoy the benefit of having the Buen Retiro Park (Parque del Buen Retiro) in close proximity: here you can spend quiet time in the open air. There are also tapas bars and stores nearby. But you have to take into account that Paseo del Prado, the street where the most famous museum of the Spanish capital is located, is quite a busy road. The area on the other side, north to the Prado, between the Paseo del Prado and the Buen Retiro Park, is very green, quiet and peaceful, which almost makes you feel as if you were in the country. Here you should pay attention to such hotels as Hotel Ritz Madrid, Petit Palace Savoy Alfonso XII and Petit Palace Lealtad Plaza. One significant disadvantage of the above-mentioned hotels is probably the high cost. This applies, however, to the most hotels located around the museum.

Salamanca District

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North to the Prado Museum and the Buen Retiro Park there is another respectable middle-class district Salamanca. You will find a lot of parks and gardens, cafes and shops here; and most of tourist attractions are still within a close proximity. However, hotel rates here are not exactly budget-friendly. Yet, there are a few interesting options which you might want to consider: Jardin de Recoletos, Adler and Hospes Madrid, for example.

Atocha Station

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If you want to stay in the center of Madrid but at the same time would like to save some money, you can take a closer look at hotels in the area of the Atocha station (Estación de Atocha). Despite the proximity of the railway station, streets here are clean, there are no beggars, museums are within an easy reach, and in order to reach the station you just have to cross the road. The station building is also fascinating because of the green house inside, which makes tickets purchase and waiting for the train quite pleasant. Besides, staying in this district makes sense if your goal is to explore not only Madrid but also other towns of Castilla (interesting options are among others Toledo, Avila, Segovia, Salamanca, Cuenca, the Escorial and Aranjuez palaces). In terms of moving around the city this district is also very convenient: there is a same-name metro station nearby and a few stops for the above-ground transport; right across the road there is the Buen Retiro Park; the Prado Museum is in close proximity (just a 10-minute walk), to reach the Plaza Puerta del Sol you will need around twenty minutes. In this area you will find a lot of tapas bars and small shops, there is a food market nearby (it closes around lunch time, that’s why you should come here in the early morning) and vegetable stands, so you don’t have to worry about starving. The only disadvantage of this district is probably the intensive traffic around the station, so when you book a room, ask for one that does not face the street. Actually, the views here aren’t really impressive: that’s either the station, or the square nearby. So, it will either be too loud in the room, especially if you love fresh air and don’t love air conditioners, or it will be too dark, with a non-impressive view to the courtyard, but quiet. Good options for accommodation in the Atocha area are, for example, hotels Agumar, Hotel Mediodia, NH Nacional, Husa Paseo del Arte and apartments Eric Vökel Atocha Suites.

Anton Martin Station Area

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The district around the Anton Martin metro station (Antón Martín) is very comfortable for staying. The streets here still remember Cervantes and Lope de Vega; sometimes a 17th century monastery can be concealed between closely sticking together residential buildings, and tapas bars hide beyond dark windows and trees on the sidewalks (the look of this district reminds me of Seville). The hotels here have a very favorable location: they are just 15-20 minutes away from the Atocha station, 10-15 minutes – from the Prado Museum, you will need around the same time to reach the Plaza Puerta del Sol. Here I recommend you to pay attention to the hotels Vincci Soho and Catalonia Atocha, as well as to the apartments Madrid4Rentals Barrio de las Letras and Apartamentos Madrid Huertas.

Historical Center of Madrid

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Of course, we should not forget about the historical center of Madrid – the district around the Plaza Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace and Calle Mayor with the same-name square Plaza Mayor. Here I would pay attention to hotels like Ateneo Puerta del Sol, Petit Palace Posada del Peine and Petit Palace Mayor Plaza. However, in my opinion, the hotels here are overpriced, considering the crowds of tourists craving for souvenirs and attractions. Light sleepers will have a sleep problem because there are lots of bars and crowds of people who come here to enjoy the cool of the night after the parching heat of the day (it’s a little different in the winter, though). That’s why when booking a hotel in the historical center, you should ask for a room facing the courtyard, or arm yourself with ear plugs and patience.

If you plan to go to Madrid by car, you should keep in mind that many central streets are closed down for motor transport and more often than not you will not be able to drive up to the hotel – you will have to leave the car at the parking lot far from the center and then walk to the hotel with your luggage.

If you prefer hotels located in historical buildings you have to keep in mind the following. Old houses in the center of Madrid are often occupied by the hotels named hostals. Please remember hostals and hostels are not the same! “Hostal” is a Spanish word which means a simple (often run by a family) hotel, something like guest house or boarding house. A hostel is similar to a dorm, whereas a hostal will have separate rooms, even though you might have to share a bathroom. Hostels usually have a kitchen where guests can cook meals, or sometimes hostels might even offer you a breakfast; hostals either don’t offer breakfast at all, or direct their guests to the nearby cafes, sometimes you can order breakfast to the room. Compared to hotels hostals are as a rule cheaper. At the same time we can’t say that hostals are better or worse than hotels. Both, hotels (hostels, apartments, board houses, etc.) and hostals can be good and bad. That’s why always pay attention to the travelers’ feedback on the booking websites like www.booking.com and www.expedia.com.

Gran Via Street

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If you like to be in the middle of action, the best option for you will probably be to choose accommodation on one of the liveliest streets in Madrid – the Gran Via. You will not find here authentic “family-run” hotels, but there are more than enough clubs and stores. Madrid is a night city, the life here begins after siesta, and if you want to be in the center of this life, Gran Via is the best place to be. Besides, Plaza Puerta del Sol is just 200–300 meters away, and the Prado Museum is just a 15-minute walk away. Using public transport you can reach any place in Madrid from the Gran Via. One of the most original hotels in this area is Vincci Vía – 66 – a former variety theater building changed into the hotel which still keeps its playful and mischievous style. I also recommend taking a look at the Hotel De Las Letras, H10 Villa de la Reina and Vincci Capitol.

Chamartín Station Area

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Atocha is not the only railway station in Madrid, there is also the Chamartin Station (Estación de Chamartín). From here trains depart to the north of Spain, including Valladolid and Salamanca – places traditionally loved by tourists. Hotels in the area of the Chamartin station are significantly cheaper than those in the downtown: for just 80-90 euros per night you can book a room in a 4-5-star hotel with a complimentary breakfast. Not far from here there is Plaza de Castilla with its famous leaning towers – here you can also find some great hotels, such as Meliá Castilla, for example. This is the real residential Madrid – with restaurants for locals and shops where you can rarely meet tourists. The downtown is an hour long walk, but you can reach it by metro – it is just 20 minutes away. I believe you should only choose this district as an accommodation option if you already had your share of the traditional Madrid, or if you leave the capital in the early morning, departing from the Chamartin station or from the bus terminal at the Plaza de Castilla (or when you arrive here in the late evening).

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

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Another interesting district where you can stay in Madrid is the area around the famous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Estadio Santiago Bernabéu). If you are going to watch soccer matches here, that’s where you have to stay – not far from the stadium, plus, there is a good share of hotels with reasonable rates here (even during a high season you will be able to find a 4-star hotel for just 80 euros per night). For example, Gran Atlanta is worth taking a look at. The stadium is not the only remarkable thing in this district, the district is also known for its great shops (for example, the department store El Corte Inglés is located here), modern architecture. Besides, from the Nuevos Ministerios metro station you can easily reach the airport.

Madrid-Barajas Airport

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If you have an early morning flight, you have two options: either book a taxi with a night rate and wake up early, or check into a hotel closer to the airport (Aeropuerto de Madrid-Barajas) a day before your flight. You should understand that the taxi rate would be comparable to the hotel rate. If the second option is more suitable for you, you can easily find a few very decent hotels in the area of the Madrid-Barajas Airport. In particular, a good option would be the hotel täCH by ClementHoteles, which offers a free of charge transfer to the airport and has a reasonable rate of approximately 60 euros per room per night. Another advantage of this hotel is its proximity to the famous Las Rozas outlet.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Hotel in Madrid

When talking about hotels in Madrid we really have to mention breakfasts – as a rule they are rich and plentiful (not only in Madrid but in Spain in general). However, I assume there might be exceptions – after all, I have not had a chance to stay in all hotels in Madrid. In hostals, for example, breakfast menu varies from a rich buffet to a “French breakfast” (as I call it) which consists of cornflakes with milk and croissants with coffee. But you can always find information about the breakfast menu when you check the hotel reviews by other tourists. 3-star hotels and chain hotels usually offer a really good breakfast: almost everywhere there is fresh juice (in most hotels there are special juice dispensers), and in addition to eggs and bacon you will be treated with fresh salads, potato cakes, jamon and other delicacies. In some hotels breakfast even includes champagne and white wine. And if you are lucky to stay in Madrid in the night to the January 7th and see the Three Kings Parade (or Cabalgata de Reyes), there is a good chance that you will get a cake for breakfast. By the way, when you stay in Spain, it is recommended to have a substantial breakfast because siesta lasts from noon to 4-5pm and you will have a problem to find a good lunch options in this period of time.

Renting Apartments in Madrid

Many travelers prefer to stay in apartments rather than in hotels. There is a good choice of apartments in Madrid (the relevant list can be found here). As a rule, apartments have a fully equipped kitchen, a bedroom, a living/dining room and a bathroom. In the kitchen you will find a set of dishes and cleaning products. But not all apartments are the same. That’s why before booking an apartment you should thoroughly check all the services provided by it: what is included in the rate, and what should be paid for extra. For example, the rate of some apartments includes charges for final cleaning which is done after you check out, and it does not include any charges for additional cleaning during your stay, or you have to pay extra for such cleanings. Sometimes, you even have to pay for the final cleaning separately (in some cases only in cash). You should also be ready that you will be asked to pay 5 to 10 euros extra for dish washing. In the end you should decide in advance if you are ready to take care of household duties on your vacation. If you aren’t ready, it is better to choose a hotel with a standard package, including breakfast, daily cleaning, etc.

But at the same time we should also note that all apartments available for rent in Madrid can be divided into at least two categories. The first category includes regular apartments in residential buildings (the apartments are rented by the owners or specialized agencies). To the second category belong the so called aparthotels. They successfully combine advantages of staying in an apartment and all the benefits of the hotel services: aparthotels have a reception desk (sometimes it is even available 24/7), provide cleaning in the room/apartment, and also render other services, typical for traditional hotels.