Where to Stay in Madrid: Best Areas & Hotels
Although Madrid's metropolitan area is the third largest in the European Union, it's not intimidating for tourists because nearly all the major attractions lie within the relatively compact city center. This area stretches from the vast Retiro Park on one end to the Royal Palace on the other. Near Retiro is the Passeo del Prado, known as the Mile of Art for all the major art museums that lie along it. Across this park-lined avenue begins the old city center, filled with narrow streets of shops and restaurants. Here, you'll find Plaza Mayor and Plaza del Sol, two lively spots you'll want to visit. Beyond these, the Royal Palace and cathedral are bounded by another large park. Along the northern edge of this central area runs Gran Via, a busy shopping street. Hotels near any of these landmarks are well-located for sightseeing.
Happily for tourists, finding a hotel in this area is quite easy, and some of Madrid's best places to stay are right in the historic heart of the city. And although you can, you don't need to walk between all these points, for Madrid's efficient Metro has stations at or within a few blocks of almost all the attractions. Those arriving by train or on the bus from the airport will find several hotels along the Paseo del Prado, close to Atocha station. Even along this art-filled boulevard, you'll find hotels in all price ranges. Whatever your budget and whether you're traveling with the entire family or visiting Madrid on your own, this guide will help you find just the right place to stay.
Where to Stay for Sightseeing
On the Gran Via between Retiro Park and the Royal Palace, The Principal Madrid is a stylish hotel with modern decor and a rooftop terrace and serves guests a sumptuous, free afternoon tea. It's within walking distance of Puerta del Sol, Retiro Park, and the art museums. Locations don't get much more central to attractions than that of the highly-rated Catalonia Las Cortes, halfway between the Prado and Plaza Mayor. Although you can walk everywhere from here, rooms are quiet at night. Throughout the late afternoon and evening, the hotel offers guests free tapas, sandwiches, and tea cakes.
The moderately priced NH Madrid Nacional is on Paseo del Prado, opposite the beautiful botanic gardens. It's handy to get here from the Atocha rail station. Another NH branded hotel, the NH Collection Paseo del Prado is on the same street. Its small gym is on the roof, with great city views.
Where to Stay for Luxury
Madrid doesn't lack luxury hotels, many of them in the new business and commercial neighborhood near the stadium, and not handy for sightseeing. But there are a number of good choices for tourists. Overlooking Plaza De Colon in the smart Salamanca district, Gran Melia Fenix is close enough to stroll to Paseo Prado and its art museums. Its luxuriously furnished rooms and stunning rotunda lobby are just what you'd expect from a member of Leading Hotels of the World. A bonus for shoppers, the hotel is one minute from the high-style shops of Calle de Serrano.
Surrounded by the museums on Paseo del Prado, Hotel Ritz, Madrid lives up to its name, with sumptuous and elegant guest rooms and old-world grace. The botanic garden and Retiro Park are only a few steps away, and the hotel offers free parking.
For a boutique hotel in the Salamanca district, a few blocks from Retiro Park and Alcala and handy to high-end shops, Hotel Unico Madrid has a Michelin-starred restaurant. Dedicated shoppers will also like the ultra-luxe Hotel Villa Magna, on Paseo de la Castellana, near the high-end shopping area and connected to the Corte Ingles department store.
Where to Stay for the Best Value
Between the Royal Palace and Porto del Sol, a few minutes' walk from Gran Via, Room Mate Laura is near several metro stations and has interesting shops and restaurants nearby. Guest services are excellent, with plenty of advice, free walking tours, and a complimentary Wi-Fi hotspot to carry around with you.
With luxury facilities and services (think plush robes, slippers, and a well-equipped gym) at mid-range prices, Only YOU Hotel Atocha borders Retiro Park, opposite the Atocha train station, where airport buses arrive and leave. Some rooms overlook an attractive inner courtyard, and the hotel has jazz nights in the lobby.
The mid-range Ibis Styles Madrid Prado has comfortable, basic rooms, some of which have balconies, near Paseo del Prado. South of the historic center and a 10-minute walk from the Reina Sofia Museum and Atocha station, Artrip Hotel has large modern rooms and a boutique atmosphere.
Where to Stay on a Budget
Just across the street from Atocha and overlooking the Reina Sofia Museum, the hospitable Hotel Mediodia offers good-sized comfortable rooms at budget prices. The excellent location is close to all the art museums and the botanic garden, at the edge of the historic center. Close to Plaza Mayor in the heart of the historic center, Mayerling Hotel has large rooms with a minimalist décor and excellent service.
On the upper floors of an older building, the modest Hostal Luz bed-and-breakfast has comfortable rooms and a small elevator to help get luggage to your room. The location is very convenient, a short walk from the Royal Palace in one direction and to Plaza Mayor in the other.
Between the Royal Palace and the Gran Via shopping district, Room Mate Mario is chic and modern, with cutting-edge design and a cool young vibe. Also in the area between the Opera, Royal Palace, and Puerta del Sol, Hotel Francisco I is surrounded by shops and restaurants on a traffic-free street.
Where to Stay for Couples
In a former noble mansion beautifully renovated into a hotel and overlooking the impressive Puerta de Alcalá arch, Hotel Hospes Puerta de Alcala has rooms in quirky shapes, stylishly decorated in lush fabrics, with large free-standing bathtubs and glass-enclosed rain showers. High-end shopping and fine dining are just around the corner, and across the street is Retiro Park for romantic strolls. The hotel also has a spa and pool.
In an elegant Belle Epoch building on Paseo del Prado, The Westin Palace Madrid is opposite the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and a five-minute walk from the Prado. Sit under the stained-glass dome of the Rotunda to savor breakfast of fresh-baked pastries and juice freshly squeezed from Valencia's famous oranges.
Balconies of the nicely decorated rooms of the luxury Hotel Atlantico, on Gran Via in the heart of the shopping district, overlook the busy shopping street. There's a rooftop terrace with romantic city views at night. The hotel is an easy walk from all the major attractions and offers free airport pick-up. The boutique Orfila Hotel is a Relais & Châteaux property on a quiet street at the edge of the Salamanca neighborhood, but within walking distance of The Prado and Retiro Park. Romantic rooms are furnished in antiques and original art, and there is a charming patio.
Where to Stay for Families
A short walk from Gran Via and the Metro, Splendom Suites Gran Via offers apartments with well-equipped kitchens and plenty of space for families. Luxury details (Hermes toiletries, Nespresso machines, and fresh flowers) include little touches for kids, like Mickey Mouse pillows.
At the end of the gardens surrounding the Royal Palace, ApartoSuites Jardines de Sabatini is a bit of a walk from the Metro, but it's within walking distance of the palace and on a bus line. Breakfast is included in the rate, and the apartments have kitchens. A supermarket is also nearby. Between Plaza Mayor and the Prado, Catalonia Las Cortes has spacious family rooms and offers free snacks throughout the day, good for children who haven't adjusted to Madrid's late dining hours. This luxury hotel was once a palace and retains some of its frescoed ceilings in the public rooms.