Where to sleep in Madrid

by Marcus.Waring

The Spanish capital has thousands of hotels, hostels and pensions to choose from. To help make decision-making easier, here are five firm favourites

Prices have risen fairly steeply since the euro came to Spain’s capital, where noisy bars serve cañas of beer by night and three of the world’s best art galleries are quietly admired by day. But compared with other European cities, Madrid hotel prices are still excellent value, even in summer.

Hospes Madrid

Dating from 1883, this Bourbon Restoration red-brick building is the latest word in quiet refinement. Hospes take over classic buildings and keep the original features while adding a few luxurious twists of their own. The 31 stately rooms are done out in elegant whites and greys and the duplex suites with beams in the attic are well worth splurging on. The Bodyna spa, set in a separate centre in the interior space, is ideal for getting lost in, especially the wonderful pool with twinkling lights set in the ceiling. The treatment rooms have Japanese-style sliding doors and relaxing treatments in quiet surroundings. Don’t forget to recover on a lounger in the room in the roof. The Senzone restaurant has sumptuous and beautifully presented cooking and a sommelier to match dishes with great wines. Located in the Plaza de la Independencia, on the edge of the wealthy barrio of Salamanca and overlooking the arch of the Puerta de Alcalá and the leafy Retiro park, the hotel is in an ideal location for the sights and shopping.

Hotel Vincci SoMa

On Calle Goya, in the swish Barrio de Salamanca, the Vincci SoMa (formerly Hotel Bauzá) is a calm and slickly-designed refuge from the busy street and its bustling shoppers. Wooden floors, red walls and black and white prints in reception give way to quiet corridors and very pleasant rooms. The beds are particularly comfortable, and bathrooms are large, with have a beach-shack feel to them thanks to the slatted wooden floor in the shower. Room 902, one of three suites, has a wooden-decked terrace with lanterns and views of the jumbled skyline southwards, which is pleasant for a pre or post-dinner drink. The library has internet access, a gas fire and squishy sofas but the star is the restaurant, serving superb Mediterranean cuisine on colourful retro crockery. The bar also becomes lively, as this is a well-known place to dine. If modern elegance and restful comfort is what you desire, make your way here.

Hotel Santo Mauro

Built in 1894 for the Duke of Santo Mauro, the AC Santo Mauro mixes the charm of a luxurious home with the effortless efficiency of a world-class establishment. It was also good enough for the Beckhams before they moved into their house during their Madrid stint. Hidden away among what were once the nobility’s 19th-century mansions in Chamberi, and are now mainly old-money houses and embassies, contemporary interiors mix with French architecture. Wooden floors creak, the spiral stone staircase is fit for princesses to sweep down and the 51 rooms are wonderfully spacious. Beds are vast, bathrooms are large and well-equipped and there is a pool and a fitness room in the quiet basement. The book-lined and atmospheric library has been converted into Faisandé, an intimate restaurant serving breakfast or supper, and the scrambled eggs are delicious. In summer, you can dine outside in the garden, which, despite a bit of background traffic noise, is lovely and cool.

Room Mate Alicia

If you want luxury but at a better price, try the Room Mate Alicia. Part of a chain, it has that rare accolade of being stylish and affordable. The hotel is tucked away in the south-east corner of the Plaza de Santa Ana, a square in which well-turned out Madrileños and tourists sip drinks. The exterior facade consists of large windows topped off by ornate balustrades encircling the roof, where the two duplex suites are positioned. Spread over two floors, these have spacious terraces with views of the square and a mini swimming pool each, which is heavenly in summer - but they're only 1x2 metres in size, so keep your butterfly to yourself. The standard rooms are comfortable and well-equipped but the three junior suites are the ones to go for. The curved sofa in the window means unlimited people-watching and fake black slate bathroom tiles make it functional and minimalist, but with character. Hemingway used to drink in the nearby CervecerÍa Alemana. For theatregoers, the Teatro Español lines the eastern side of the square and Calle de las Huertas is close and packed with bars and restaurants.

Hotel Puerta America

Close to the airport and the IFEMA exhibition centre, the Hotel Puerta America is out on a limb but at the top of the design tree. Twelve unique floors, each designed by a different world-class architect, mean that people avidly ride the lifts all day just admiring the different floors as they skim past. Staying here is like visiting several film sets, from cutting-edge Asian to pure Star Wars. It’s also an extraordinary experiment in seeing how differently Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid think. The latter’s floor is all white, with rounded walls, pulsing lights racing up and down the corridors, and futuristic rooms where the television unfolds out of the ceiling at the touch of a button and you can watch films in the bath. Even the basement car park is attractive. There’s also modern Spanish cuisine in the restaurant, Lagrimas Negras (literally ‘black tears’), where they have top-end creations and wines. Try out the rooftop pool and bar, which is marvellously cool in summertime.


Marcus Waring went backpacking through India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the Cooks Islands in 1998. Following a journalism postgraduate at the former London College of Printing in 1999 he has worked as a freelance travel journalist. He has written for the Guardian, Independent, Sunday Telegraph, Evening Standard, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Marie Claire, Wanderlust, easyJet, Ryanair, expedia.com and thehotelguru.com. He was commissioning editor on bmi´s Voyager magazine in 2007. He is now based in West Sussex and is the resident travel writer for nowfly.co.uk, which he writes a weekly travel column for. Other recent work includes editing a Frommer's Day by Day guide to Madrid and writing a spoof of The Dangerous Book for Boys aimed at the 60+ called The Deranged Book for Old-Timers (Summersdale). Upcoming projects include another humorous book and a UK-based travel novel and putting the finishing touches to his website, marcuswaring.com. Favourite places include West Sussex, Hampshire, Devon (especially Dartmoor, which he visits twice a month), Finland, British Columbia and Australia.