Where To Stay in Madrid, Spain - Guide of Best Areas and Hotels

Madrid is undoubtedly one of the cities worth visiting at least once in a lifetime, although trying to discover the whole city and all of its attractions, as well as inhaling the genuine beauty of Madrid in one single visit might require a long vacation. An absolute home to diversity, Madrid offers a wide variety of accommodation options, from any - price, service, comfort or location points of view.

Madrid (correctly pronounced as [ma’drɪd]) is older than its first official mentioning in historical documents, and its architecture features marks left by each historical era. Even though the attractions are located in different neighbourhoods, you can observe the contrasts between examples of medieval architecture (such as San Pedro el Viejo church towers or the church of St. Jerome), Renaissance architecture (e.g. Bridge of Segovia) and the most recent contemporary buildings (e.g. Rapsol Campus or the Four Towers).

Officially, Madrid comprises 21 districts, further subdivided into 128 “barrios” (neighbourhoods). Here we highlight some of the most traveler welcoming neighbourhoods to stay in in Madrid from an insider’s point of view.

Table of Content


Part 1. A quick glance at Madrid’s neighbourhoods

Sol - the heart of the downtown, where you can find all kinds of accommodation options at various prices, in the closest proximity to the main attractions, providing lots of types of catering and shopping venues.

La Latina - located in the center of the city, makes it easy to both have access to the most of attractions and fun and be in the midst of events

Barrio de Las Letras - host to many famous writers at different times, now it is the literary quarter of Madrid with plenty of hotels and a nice bohemian vibe

Madrid de Los Austrias - a very old neighbourhood delivering a traditional vibe, it hosts a series of buildings from the Habsburgs era and varied accommodation options

Salamanca - a luxurious yet very authentic neighbourhood, offers a wide variety of boutiques, eateries and hotels

Lavapiés and Anton Martin - a diverse and multinational neighbourhood, it offers cheaper accommodation options close to downtown and the opportunity to experience Madrid as locals do

Chueca - a very vibrant and lively part of Madrid, this is the LGBT friendly neighbourhood with lots of bars and restaurants, and a fervent nightlife

Malasaña - a “hipsters’ ” neighbourhood, which will welcome you with a wide variety of accommodation options and vivid cafes, and an intense nightlife


Part 2. Recommended neighbourhoods and hotels to stay in Madrid

Sol

Pronounced: [‘sɔl]

- Overview

Sol is the heart of Madrid, and its Puerta del Sol is the square where all the roads in Spain start. For your first trip to Madrid, this would be one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in, as it assures a wide choice of accommodation options, adjacency to main tourist attractions, plenty of stores and public catering and entertainment venues. Usually, here the hotels are located on the main streets, and most of the apartments and hostels, as a budget accommodation option, are on the back streets. Regardless of your choice, you will be surrounded by lots of people humming as they take pictures, enjoy a cocktail or look for something or someone.

- Main Attractions

* Puerta Del Sol (must see)
* Carrion Edifice
* Edificio Gran Pena
* Gran Via (must see)
* Grassy Edifice
* Metropolis Building (must see)
* Museo de la Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Fine Arts Museum) (must see)
* Plaza de Callao (must see)
* Plaza de Isabel II
* Restaurante Sobrino de Botin (must see)

- Recommended Walks

As a big city with a rich culture and history, Madrid displays attractions and architectural masterpieces influenced by various cultures and eras. Whether you are planning to stay here for a while, or just for a single day, Sol has plenty to offer, and here are some guides and tips for you to take the most out of your time spent in this barrio:

* Gran Via and Sol Walking Tour
* Sol Souvenir Shopping
* Gran via and Sol Nightlife

- Pros of Staying Here

- Great location
- Most popular attractions within walking distance
- Wide range of accommodation options available for varied prices
- Plenty of shopping venues
- Many bars, restaurants, cafes and authentic taverns
- Easy access to all types of public transport
- Plenty of pedestrian streets

- Cons of Staying Here

- Noisy
- Always crowded

- Recommended Hotels within $313-$450

Catalonia Gran Vía (4*) - a chic hotel featuring great views and plenty of on-site facilities

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

Intur Palacio San Martin (4*) - a beautifully decorated hotel with a great location on a relatively quiet pedestrian street and a notable on-site restaurant

Other hotels worth mentioning: B&B Hotel Puerta del Sol (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

Hotel Europa (3*) - a nice hotel offering a very central location
Way Hostel Madrid - a very social hostel offering a great location and bike rental service

Other hotels worth mentioning: Petit Palace Puerta del Sol, Los Amigos Hostel


Barrio de Las Letras

Pronounced: [‘bʌrrɪo ,de ,lʌs ‘letrʌs]

- Overview

Barrio de Las Letras (aka Huertas) is also called “the literary neighbourhood” by the locals. Many writers lived in this barrio and hence the names of the streets: Calle Lope de Vega, Calle de Cervantes and other. Although it is right close to Sol, the barrio has a homey vibe of a small-town neighbourhood with many pedestrian streets and can be a good choice if you are visiting with a family. Foodies will also be delighted by this neighbourhood, and savor some of the best tapas in Madrid or other traditional Spanish food. More, if art is your passion, this is the barrio to choose to stay in, considering its location right next to the Madrid’s Art Triangle. On top of it all, regardless of its central location, you will find plenty of accommodation options, even under $70 per night.

- Main Attractions

* Caixa Forum (must see)
* Casa museo Lope de Vego
* Cerveceria Alemana
* Hotel Suecia
* Vinoteca Barbachera
* Westin Palace Hotel
* Museo Del Prado (must see)
* Museo Naval (must see)
* Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza (must see)
* Reina Sofia National Museum Art Centre (must see)
* Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid (must see)
* Museo Nacional de Antropologia

- Recommended Walks

To find your way through the amenities and tavernas easier, check this guide:

* Hemingway’s Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Relatively quiet
- Varied accommodation options for different prices
- Foodie-friendly, with plenty of restaurants serving traditional Spanish food and international flavors
- Lots of cafes and restaurants

- Cons of Staying Here

- Few clubs
- Fewer public transport options available

- Recommended Hotels within $313-$450

NH Collection Madrid Paseo del Prado (5*) - a stylish hotel with a great location, on-site bar and bike rental

Other hotels worth mentioning: Westin Palace Hotel (5*)

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

Hotel Villa Real (5*) - a well-located hotel hosted in a historical building offering various on-site facilities and a great value for the prices charged
Hotel NH Madrid Nactional (4*) - a high-quality hotel offering great service and views

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hostal Atelier (3*), Hostal Lisboa (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

Tryp Madrid Atocha Hotel (4*) - a lovely hotel with nice and comfy rooms providing great value to guests

Other hotels worth mentioning: Mola Hostel


Madrid de los Austrias

Pronounced: [ma’drɪd ,de ,los a’uθtrɪas]

- Overview

Madrid de los Austrias is a neighbourhood that can fascinate anyone with the mesmerizing beauty of its architecture. It’s a historical barrio, a big part of which was built by the Habsburgs, and hence the name of “the Austrian Madrid”. Staying in this barrio has one main advantage: if you get lost around the city, you should look for buildings with peaked roofs, as they are most likely to be in Los Austrias. Having the Royal Palace right by your side, accommodation is more expensive in this neighbourhood, which is also the reason for fewer tourists as compared to other barrios. This is why this barrio may suit you if you are travelling with a family or if you are looking forward for a quieter stay. You can still spot a few hostels and pensions, but consider that many of them are usually sold out far in advance. Despite generally higher prices for hotels and restaurants, you will still find several relatively cheap places to have some tapas with beer. Gourmets can enjoy the fancily presented gastronomic inventions in the local restaurants, and if this is your guilty pleasure, it might be the perfect neighbourhood for you.

- Main Attractions

* Arco de Cuchilleros
* Catedral de la Almudena (must see)
* Chocolateria San Gines
* Libreria Luis Bardon
* Libreria San Gines
* Mercado de Monedas y Sellos
* Mercado de San Miguel (must see)
* Palacio Gaviria
* Palacio Real (must see)
* Plaza Mayor (must see)
* Plaza de Espana (must see)
* Plaza de Oriente (must see)
* Plaza de Santa Ana (must see)
* Plaza de la Villa (must see)
* Sabatini Gardens (must see)
* St. Michael's Basilica
* Teatro Real
* Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

- Recommended Walks

If you need some tips to explore Madrid de los Austrias, take a look at the guides below:

* City Center Walking Tours
* Madrid’s City Centre Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Royal park
- Fascinating architecture
- Relatively quiet
- Varied accommodation options
- Foodie-friendly, with plenty of fancy restaurants

- Cons of Staying Here

- Pricier accommodation and food
- Few clubs
- Fewer public transport options available

- Recommended Hotels within $313-$450

Petit Palace Plaza Mayor (4*) - a nice hotel with a great location and big rooms, offering free use of bicycles

Other hotels worth mentioning: Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques (5*), Francisco I (2*)

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

VP Plaza Espana Design (5*) - a luxury although homey hotel offering various on-site facilities
The Citadel by Pillow (1*) - a well-located hotel on a relatively quiet street in close proximity to many eateries and offering much more than a usual one-star hotel

Other hotels worth mentioning: Room Mate Mario (2*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

Hostal Comercial (1*) - another atypical hostel with a good location and small rooms with basic facilities
Hostal La Casa de La Plaza (1*) - a cozy hostel with a good price-quality ratio

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hostal Las Fuentes (2*), Hostal Abaaly (1*)


Salamanca

Pronounced: [‘sælæ,mʌnkʌ]

- Overview

Salamanca is the “high-class” barrio of Madrid, being the most expensive and posh neighbourhood. Although it offers a slightly off-centered location, it is still close to many of the main attractions. The Royal park - El Retiro adds to the luxury of the barrio and you can feel the royal authenticity of the place as you walk in. You can find plenty of the finest eateries and shops, while the main streets also host foreign embassies. If a high-end vacation is what you are up for, this will be the best neighbourhood for you to stay in. Besides, as it is less filled by tourists, you might consider staying here if you are visiting with a family. You can also find a few cheaper accommodation options in this ritzy area.

- Main Attractions

* Biblioteca Nacional (must see)
* La Chinata
* Mercado de la Paz
* Museo Arquelogico Nacional (must see)
* Museo de Escultura ai Aire Libre
* National Mint Museum
* National Museum of Natural Sciences
* Plaza de Colon (must see)
* Plaza de Dali
* Plaza de Toros Las Ventas (must see)

- Recommended Walks

Try this guide to get the real feel of Salamanca:

* Salamanca Walking Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Royal park
- Relatively quiet
- Varied accommodation options
- Finest eateries and shops
- Easy access to many types of transport

- Cons of Staying Here

- Expensive accommodation and food
- Few clubs

- Recommended Hotels within $313-$450

Hospes Puerta de Alcalá (5*) - a luxurious and comfortable hotel in the closest proximity to the Retiro park and plenty of delightful on-site facilities
Petit Palace Art Gallery (4*) - a charming hotel offering pleasant experiences and various on-site facilities

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

NH Madrid Principe de Vergara (4*) - a quiet hotel with comfortable rooms, on-site restaurant and parking

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hotel Serrano by Silken (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

VP El Madroño (4*) - a neat hotel with big rooms and a nice on-site garden
Abba Madrid (4*) - an interestingly decorated hotel with various on-site facilities

Other hotels worth mentioning: Hostal La Nava (1*), Hostal Salamanca (2*)


Lavapiés and Anton Martin

Pronounced: [‘lʌbʌpɪeθ] and [ʌn’tɔn mʌr’tɪn]

- Overview

Lavapiés has been attracting immigrants with its cheap rent and food. In time, it has become so diverse and multicultural, that over 90 nationalities live here side by side, giving a unique vibe to this neighbourhood. Hence the multitude of cultural events that take place here. Along with traditional taverns, you’ll find Indian, Middle Eastern, African and other national restaurants and shops. This multicultural neighbourhood with its underground vibe becomes more and more popular among tourists. If you have a limited budget or if you are young and restless, visiting Madrid on your own, with your mate or with a bunch of friends, this might be the perfect neighbourhood for you to stay in.

- Main Attractions

* Reina Sofia National Museum Art Centre (must see)
* Cuesta de Moyano
* Plaza de Cascorro

- Recommended Walks

Here are some tips to help you explore this neighbourhood:

* Lavapiés Walking Tour
* Lavapiés Shopping Walk

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Cheaper accommodation
- Varied accommodation options
- Diverse eateries and shops
- Tavernas and clubs
- Access to many types of transport

- Cons of Staying Here

- Less suitable for families
- Few hotels

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

Catalonia Atocha (4*) - a modern hotel with comfortable rooms and pleasant on-site facilities, providing high value for the prices charged
Hotel Paseo del Arte (4*) - a well-located hotel featuring rooms with a minimalist decor and various on-site facilities

Other hotels worth mentioning: Catalonia Plaza Mayor (4*), Eurostars Plaza Mayor (4*), Tryp Madrid Atocha Hotel (4*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

OK Hostel Madrid - a cozy hostel with various type of rooms providing good price / quality ratio
2060 The Newton Hostel - a relatively new hostel with a nice social area and nicely designed rooms

Other hotels worth mentioning: Living Mad Hostel, Hostal Edreira (2*)


Chueca

Pronounced: [tʃu:’ek,ka]

- Overview

Chueca is an open-minded and vibrant barrio, keeping the party alive all night long. A neighbourhood with traditional architecture, Chueca is the epicenter of Madrid’s LGBT life having the most pride! It is also a foodie-focused neighbourhood hosting plenty of innovative tapas bars, restaurants and other venues to eat out or have a drink. Being LGBT-friendly, the barrio welcomes everyone who is willing to have a lot of fun. Accommodation here is quite expensive, but some apartments are large enough to host groups, making them a reasonable choice. This neighbourhood would be less recommended to families, as oftentimes parties are held in open air, making the barrio noisy.

- Main Attractions

* El Museo Nacional de Romanticismo (must see)

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- LGBT-friendly
- Intense nightlife
- Varied accommodation options
- Foodie-focused, with lots of restaurants, tapas bars and other fine eateries
- Plenty of clubs
- Access to several types of transport

- Cons of Staying Here

- Less suitable for families
- Pricier accommodation
- Fewer hotels
- Noisy

- Recommended Hotels within $313-$450

The Principal Madrid (5*) - a beautiful hotel with plenty of facilities and good value for the prices charged
Eurostarts Central (4*) - a nicely-decorated hotel with various on-site facilities

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

Lusso Infantas (4*) - a very-well located hotel providing various on-site facilities and good value for the prices charged

Other hotels worth mentioning: Petit Palace Chueca (3*), B&B Hotel Fuencarral 52 (3*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

Pensión Adeco (2*) - a nice and clean hotel offering a great location and all the basics you might need for your stay

Other hotels worth mentioning: Open Hostel Madrid, Room007 Chueca Hostel


Malasaña

Pronounced: [.mala’zanyə]

- Overview

Malasaña is a trendy barrio offering a very central location. It is not too tourist crowded. Here you will mostly meet local hipsters, students of various nationalities and many expats settled here for a while or for good. If you are up to spending time in a “cool” barrio, this is the perfect one for you. It is the neighbourhood where you get the chance to admire graffitis, choose from the multitude of charmingly designed eateries, visit record stores, have a drink in a traditional “old-style” bar, and party the night away! Accommodation prices are average, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Although it is not too noisy, if you are travelling with a family you might consider another neighbourhood to stay in.

- Main Attractions

* Edificio Telefonica

- Recommended Walks

Malasaña is a lively neighbourhood, and here are some tips for spending a great time in this barrio:

* Malasaña Walking Tour
* Nightlife Tour

- Pros of Staying Here

- Good location
- Less tourist crowded
- Intense nightlife
- Varied accommodation options
- Plenty of public catering venues, bars, pubs and clubs
- Access to several types of transport

- Cons of Staying Here

- Fewer attractions
- Pricier accommodation
- Few hostels
- Not recommended for families

- Recommended Hotels within $175-$312

7 Islas Hotel (4*) - an attractively decorated hotel featuring spacious rooms, good location and great value

Other hotels worth mentioning: Tryp Madrid Cibeles Hotel (4*), Hotel Life (2*)

- Recommended Hotels within $36-$174

Hostal Santo Domingo (3*) - a stylish hostal with good location and value provided
Woohoo Hostal Madrid (2*) - a nice hostal with a great ambiance and location

Other hotels worth mentioning: THC Gran Via Hostel (1*)


Not recommended neighbourhoods to stay in Madrid

Generally speaking, Madrid is a relatively safe city, having a very low crime rate. There are just a few neighbourhoods we would not recommend to stay in, from an insider’s point of view. All the other ones did not make it to our top 8 barrios due to location, and distance to downtown and to main attractions. What you should take care of is your pockets and personal stuff. If, for whatever reason, you still prefer to stay in barrios other than the ones recommended above, you will mostly get the chance to observe the day-to-day routine of locals and immigrants living a busy working life.

Here are some of the hotels of our choice in other, less recommended barrios to stay in:

Retiro
NH Madrid Sur (3*) - a comfortable hotel with spacious rooms and on-site parking

Arganzuela
Hotel Sancho (3*) - a nice and clean hotel with good location

Chamberi
Hesperia Madrid (5*) - a quality hotel with world-class service and plenty of on-site facilities
Hotel Sardinero Madrid (4*) - a well-maintained hotel with quiet and spacious rooms and many on-site facilities
JMG Hostels Madrid - a tidy hostel with a modern design

Castellana
Hotel Vía Castellana (4*) - a modern hotel featuring spacious and nicely decorated rooms
Hotel Weare Chamartin (4*) - a hotel with an on-site restaurant and a great location in the financial district
Barceló Imagine (5*) - an avangard-style hotel with plenty of on-site facilities, offering good value for the prices charged

Princesa (Moncloa Aravaca)
Hotel Aravaca Village (4*) - an impressive well-located hotel with big rooms providing great value for the prices charged

The not recommended neighbourhoods to stay in Madrid are: Tetuan, Carabanchel, Vallecas, Usera, Barajas.


Part 3. Getting from the airport to your hotel

There are several way to get from the airport to the area close to your hotel or to downtown.

Bus

Each terminal of the Madrid-Barajas Airport has bus stations, but note that not all buses stop at all terminals. Besides, some of the buses will take you to Madrid, others are interurban, so make sure to take the right line. The downside is that buses that stop at the airport terminals will take you to the Eastern part of Madrid, and to get to a more central barrio, you’ll have to transfer to other lines. From the airport, line 203 (aka N27 Exprés Aeropuerto in the night hours) will take you to Atocha, and line 200 - to Avenida de América. If you take line 101 you will end up in Canillejas, which is pretty far from downtown.

Metro

The metro line 8 will take you from the Airport the Nuevos Ministerios station, which is not too far from the central barrios, and from where you can change to other lines that will take you to your hotel. Note, that line 8 might be closed in certain seasons of the year.

Train

From the Airport you can also take the train of the local railway company RELFE. The only line passing here is C1. You will have to change at Nuevos Ministerios station to either line C3 or C4, which will both take you to Sol. Metro tickets cost a bit more, so train is a fast and cheap way to get to downtown without a lot of hustle.

Taxi

The priciest, but still the easiest way to get straight to your hotel is to get a cab. The most fair tariff will be the one indicated on the taximeter, so make sure your driver switches it on when your ride starts.


Part 4. A Few Tips to Choose the Right Neighbourhood for You

Depending on the goal and duration of your visit, as well as your accompaniment, Madrid’s barrios can be more or less attractive to you.

If your visit is short, and you would like to take the most of it, Sol would be the best barrio for you to stay in. It offers varied accommodation options, keeping you in the closest proximity to the main tourist attractions and fun.

If your are planning on a longer stay, and cheaper accommodation is what you are looking for, you can choose Lavapiés and Anton Martin. However, do not forget that most of the neighbourhoods offer plenty of accommodation options, and you can find cheap accommodation in most of the barrios recommended above.

When visiting with a family, you should better choose between Barrio de Las Letras, Austrias or Salamanca. These are quieter than other neighbourhoods and offer a central location. Get ready, however, to pay higher prices.

Foodies will fall in love with Madrid considering the multitude of restaurants serving traditional stew and culinary innovations. In any of the recommended neighbourhoods you’ll find a place to delight even the most picky gourmet. To those who love shopping, Madrid has plenty to offer too: lots of pedestrian streets with stores and various markets, different barrios featuring something specific.

If you are in love with arts, consider staying in Barrio de las Letras, as it is the closest to Madrid’s so called “Art Triangle”. If architecture is what attracts you the most in a city, consider staying in Madrid de Los Austrias.

If you are young and restless, traveling alone or with your friends, and partying the night away is the kind of fun you are looking for, you should definitely choose Malasaña, La Latina, or Chueca for your stay. Besides offering a wide variety of clubs, Chueca is the LGBT friendly neighbourhood welcoming everyone eager to have fun. Here the nightlife is the most intense.