These funky places to stay, all in buzzing downtown locations in Madrid, offer simple yet stylish accommodation with no expensive frills
Hostal Santo Domingo
Just behind the Gran Vía and near Chueca, on a not-yet gentrified street (yes, I mean it’s a bit grungy - dead handy, though), the Santo Domingo is a breath of fresh designer air. The place was totally revamped in 2007, and now there are 18 rooms with latex mattresses, plasma televisions, wooden floors, clean lines and contemporary furniture in crisp colours. Double rooms start at around €70, depending on the time of year (there are bargains over the summer months), but you might want to splash out a bit more to have a red-tiled Jacuzzi right in your room, as well as a dramatic black-and-white bathroom. All the rooms are ensuite, with free wi-fi and something called chromotherapy, which means you can twiddle knobs to change the hue of the lighting.There’s no breakfast, but snacks and drinks are available, and anyway in Madrid it’s much more fun to have your coffee and croissant in a bar – there are literally hundreds within a five-minute radius
Around the corner from the Santo Domingo, so also on the edgy side of urban, the 20 rooms in this traditional building are all black, white and bold colours. The bars and restaurants of Malasaña are five minutes’ walk up the hill – but at least it’s downhill all the way to get home – and the gay hub of Chueca is also a short stroll away. You can have breakfast here if you want, and there’s also a chill-out area with mags, coffee and wi-fi. Unlike a lot of hostales, there is a proper reception area, which is open 24 hours, so no problems about rolling in at 5 am – which is pretty much par for the course in Madrid. Some of the rooms are suitable for people with disabilities, there is a lift, and parking is available in the basement. Rates go from €50 to €150.
The 10 rooms are all different here, ranging from silvery minimalism to frilly Frenchness, with some stark stripes, poppy spots and bland beigeness thrown into the mix, too. This place opened two years ago on the third floor of a characterful building in the old town, following the success of the Argentinian owner’s two other hostales in the same area. And what an area – Santa Ana is packed with tapas bars and pavement cafés, and is where the playwrights and poets of Madrid’s Golden Age in the 17th century lived, so you’re having a cultural experience just being there. The shops around the Puerta del Sol are a five-minute walk away, and the Prado, Thyssen and Reina Sofía museums are less than a mile away, too. You can have three or four beds in a room here if you like, so it’s good for families or a group of friends, and there is free wi-fi, too. No breakfast, but again, you’re spoilt for choice around here. Rates range from €60 to €110, with discounts in summer.
The chic&basic crew have form when it comes to creating Mayerling in a great location just off the Plaza de Tirso de Molina, which means you can do the traditional yet trendy scene in Los Austrias, Lavapiés with its fab Indian restaurants and Moroccan tea houses, or tapas-central Santa Ana, without resorting to sensible footwear. And if you get carried away with the romance of the moment, there’s a flower market in the square. A converted fabric warehouse, the Mayerling has 22 rooms, with rates according to size, starting from around €75. All chic&basic hotels have a ‘help yourself’ area where you can make coffee and pick up snacks whenever you fancy, and you also get a goody bag with munchies in your room.
You feel like you’ve fallen asleep in Ikea, but there are worse things in the world of budget accommodation, let’s face it. The hostel is situated right on the so-hip-it-hurts Calle Fuencarral, so if you stay here you can watch all the action from the vantage point of a rather elegant glassed-in balcony – which is a very typically Madrilenian way to behave. With dozens of boutiques and bars and a never-ending stream of cool, cool people, you couldn’t be more in the thick of it, particularly if you think you might want to spend time hanging out in Chueca. There are nine rooms, each a different colour, on the 4th floor, with a lift, and breakfast if you can resist the lure of going down to the street. Rates start from around €55.