If you’re planning a trip to Spain and wondering where to stay in Madrid, you’ve come to the right place. Often overlooked in favour of other Spanish cities like Barcelona and Sevilla, Madrid is a melting pot of culture, popular attractions – that includes one of the best museums in Europe -, tapas bars and world-class restaurants. With most things to see in Madrid being so centrally located it’s the perfect place for a European weekend away full of good food, wine and culture.
With so many luxury hotels, mid-range stays and good value options in the city center, the hard part is simply deciding where to stay in Madrid.
With so many epic neighbourhoods to choose from, in this post, I’ll share a little about each one so you can decide where to stay and which hotel or VRBO to choose for the best stay possible to suit your needs, whether that’s right next to the Museo del Prado or within easy access of Retiro park for your morning jog.
*This where to stay in Madrid post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you.
The Best Areas to Stay in Madrid
The Spanish capital is full of vibrant and colourful neighbourhoods, each with its own vibe and style. One of the best things to do in Madrid is to simply walk around each neighbourhood aimlessly and discover new places as you go. For first-time visitors in the city, it’s best to stay in the Centro. Here, you’re always never too far from the action and most points of interest are within walking distance or a short metro ride.
Within Centro there are many different neighbourhoods each with their own draws. They are:
- Las Salesas
- Barrio de Las Letra
- La Latina
- Sol-Gran Vía
Which one of these best neighborhoods you choose will depend on what you look for in an area normally when you travel and the purpose of your trip. You will no doubt visit most of these areas during your stay in Madrid as Madrid’s most famous places to visit are all scattered between them.
Madrid is not a big city and it really does have a large town feel to it compared to the world’s big cities like London, Tokyo or Mexico City. It does, however, have something for everyone and each neighbourhood, for the most part, is perfect for couples, groups, party-goers and families.
Let’s talk about each neighbourhood one by one so you can make the decision as to which area in Madrid is best for your needs and travel style.
Malasaña is one of Madrid’s trendiest and hippest neighbourhoods but that wasn’t always the case.
Historically known as the heart of the ‘Movida Movement’, a countercultural movement that started just after Spain’s return to democracy after Franco, Malasaña has always been a little ‘rough around the edges’.
Since those times it’s seen rapid gentrification of chic shops and hip eateries and nowadays it’s just a cool place to hang out with nice public squares, new gastro bars opening on every corner and plenty of street art to admire.
If you love staying in shabby-chic areas with all the hippest offerings make sure you stay in Malasaña.
Known throughout the city as the LGBTQI neighbourhood, Chueca is a primarily old residential neighbourhood full of historical buildings juxtaposed next to modern cultural venues. Plaza de Chueca is the hottest meeting point here, especially at night when the area comes alive with the hottest nightclubs and parties in Madrid. This is definitely where to stay if you’re in Madrid for the nightlife.
Between Chueca and Salamanca, you’ll find the small neighbourhood of Las Salesas- a small extension of Chueca. This is the perfect place to stroll around at the weekend- so this might be a place for you to stay if you’d like to spend the weekend in Madrid just walking around the city. It’s full of cute designer boutiques and Instagrammable cafes and restaurants you’re going to want to try at least once for brunch or a late lunch.
Barrio de Las Letras
Barrio de Las Letras is Madrid’s most culturally significant neighbourhood. Both Miguel de Cervantes and Ernest Hemingway regularly stomped through these streets to their favourite bars and handouts.
Today you’ll still find plenty of bars here- a lot of them spilling out into the wide streets and plazas making it the perfect place for some afternoon people watching. You’ll find most of the action in and around busy Plaza Santa Ana where you can grab a drink and some tapas after the end of a long day of exploring.
This neighbourhood is ideal for those who like a quieter and more traditional bar and restaurant scene.
Salamanca is a place to stay for luxury travellers. Here you’ll find most of the city’s grand, 5-star hotels, fancy avenues and all the top designer boutiques, both international and Spanish.
It’s one of the best places to indulge by going out for a designer cocktail and finish the night at the number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the area. Not everything here is for the luxury traveller, however, and the area is still worth exploring even if you are on a budget.
There are many cheap but great restaurants in the area, especially at chic Mercado de la Paz where you can enjoy some of the city’s best tapas and fresh produce.
Home to the park of the same name, Retiro is a great place to stay if you’re after a quieter Madrid vacation. It’s a little further away from the centre and other neighbourhoods, especially when staying towards the eastern side, but being so close to Madrid’s most famous park does have its advantages.
Start the morning with a run around the park in the summer or why not end the day with a picnic dinner as the sun sets. Retiro is also close to the Botanical Garden and the Prado Museum so if those are high on your list, consider staying in Retiro.
La Latina encompasses the oldest area of Madrid and it’s here where you’ll find old buildings, grand churches and the famous El Rastro flea market. Walk down the narrow streets and come out onto large plazas full of people enjoying outdoor tapas bar terraces. If you want to be close to all the major sights- La Latina borders Plaza Mayor- then this is where to stay. Most hotels here are old and charismatic with a colonial flair.
If you’re looking for a more edgy and up-and-coming area to stay in, Lavapiés is another great central option. Bordering El Rastro flea market and just minute’s walk away from El Retiro Park this neighbourhood has something for everyone.
Also known as being one of the most culturally diverse areas of Madrid, Lavapiés is where you’ll find many immigrant-owned bars and restaurants- a great place to come if you’ve already had your fill of Spanish food. There are some pretty hip bars in the area too.
For a real mix of accommodation options, Sol-Gran Via is Madrid’s busiest hub full of narrow historical side streets as well as the grand boulevard Gran Via, lots of traditional Spanish restaurants, tapas bars and food markets. This is also the area to stay in if you’re in Madrid for some shopping as you’ll find all the main high-street brands here. It’s a great place for walking and many of Madrid’s sights are a short walk from here.
Where to Stay in Madrid for Sightseeing: Sol- Gran Via, Chueca and Retiro
Where to Stay in Madrid for wellness: Retiro and Salamanca, La Latina
Where to Stay in Madrid for the Coolest neighbourhoods: Chueca, Las Salesas, Malasaña and Lavapiés
Where to Stay in Madrid for the best food: Anywhere in Centro. All the neighbourhoods we mention have so many great restaurants.
Where to stay for luxury travel: Salamanca
Where to stay in Madrid for family travel: Sol-Gran Via and Retiro
Where to stay for Madrid nightlife: Chueca, Malasaña, La Latina, Lavapiés
WHERE TO STAY IN MADRID, HOTELS BY AREA:
The iconic hotel Riu occupies almost the whole block right on Gran Via, on the edge of the neighbourhood of Malasaña. Combining elements of modernism with art deco, this well-designed hotel has everything you need for a fine stay in Madrid. A modern restaurant, cocktail bar, fitness center and heated pool and rooftop bar that offers stunning views over the city and simple and comfortable rooms make Riu a grand choice while in Madrid.
Minimal, chic and oh-so-cool, if you love minimal design and great views, a stay here is a must. This small boutique hotel located in Malasaña and close to everything you might need, has one of the best rooftops in the city, with amazing views, a rooftop restaurant, lounge and plunge pool for those long summer days. This hotel is simply beautiful and my personal top choice when in Madrid.
For traveller’s seeking comfort and value, Hostal Palacio Luna doesn’t disappoint. Located close to many bars restaurants and points of interest, this small hostal is comfortable, cosy and virtually noise-free. It’s been well-thought-out in the details- hello plug sockets on each side of the bed and you’ll find everything you’ll need here for the perfect rest after a long day of exploring. Rooms here are rather small, so best for weekenders or those without a lot of luggage.
For a stay at one of Madrid’s most vibrant hotels, try Room Mate Oscar in the heart of Chueca. This brightly coloured, stylish hotel is perfect for couples looking to get the most out of this part of the city. Each room comes with a large double bed, desk area and chillout area, air-conditioning, TV and free wifi. On the rooftop, there’s a restaurant/bar with fantastic views over the city, especially at sunset. Make sure to book early to not miss the rooms with a free-standing bathtub.
Check availability and rates here booking.com
Simple, clean and modern is what you can expect from this fantastic B&B style property. Rooms here are modern, new and sparkling clean with equipped en suite bathrooms, minibars, TV and wifi. The hotel is located in a converted 19th Century with a rooftop perfect for sundowners and each room is soundproofed for maximum rest. In the immediate area, you’ll find lots of lovely boutiques, restaurants and cool bars.
For modern elegance with a bit of a speakeasy vibe, this ornate hotel is full of stylish corners to relax in and have a drink or savour your morning breakfast. Located just a 10-minute walk from Puerta del Sol, this hotel is close to everything and its cute restaurant offers both wine and tapas for when you can’t get enough or when you’re too tired to go out. The rooms are bright, airy and the beds are super comfortable. They are also equipped with everything you might need throughout your stay.
Old-world luxury meets the modern in this swanky property north of Chueca. Here you’ll find four-poster beds, well-worn leather sofas and intricate armchairs to relax in and enjoy Madrid in style. You’ll also have access to the gorgeous fitness centre where you can get that early morning workout in, indoor pool, spa centre, elegant restaurant, bar and several beautiful communal nooks to relax in. The breakfast here is top-notch too and it’s always so highly rated online.
This is a luxury, whole apartment perfect for large families or groups that like to be self-contained. Able to sleep up to 10 people, this 140m2 apartment in Las Salesas is one of the top apartment stays in Madrid. With a great central location, this apartment features a clean, modern kitchen, large dining table and living area as well as three double bedrooms. The neighbourhood is quiet but close to all the restaurants and services you might need. Jessica, the host is brilliant at making sure you feel right at home from your arrival.
The perfect cool and stylish, townhouse-style hotel, perfect for the modern couple looking to get the most out of Madrid. Centrally located and very close to all the best restaurants in the Salamanca neighbourhood, it’s also close to the museum district and to Retiro park. The staff here are great and so are the large and fancy rooms, the best ones are located at the top and come with a private rooftop terrace overlooking the city.
Located just a few blocks away from Chueca’s main plaza and metro station, this lovely hotel, full of calming earthy tones and cosy touches is another great option for Madrid. Rooms are clean and modern with a minimalist feel, each room comes with desk space and a private bathroom. Beds are comfortable and with its excellent location, close to all the main sights and cultural hubs, you can’t go wrong with a stay here.
Barrio de Las Letras
For a chance to stay right on one of the grandest squares in Europe, Plaza Mayor Pestana is our go-to. Modern elegance meets Spanish royal splendour, this hotel is has a feeling of luxury without breaking the bank. With tremendous views of Plaza Mayor right from the bedroom, this hotel also has an indoor pool, spa and gym for all you wellness travellers out there. Rooms are spacious and super comfortable and the hotel has a great restaurant and bar on-site too- perfect for relaxing in the evening.
One of the best budget stays in Madrid, this no-frills hotel is simple, clean and has everything you need for a good stay. Rooms are equipped with wifi, TV, closet, minibar and safe in a beautiful old building in the Las Letras neighbourhood. The room rate also comes with breakfast.
Let’s face it, Hotel Unico is probably Madrid’s best hotel. If you’re looking for luxury and celebrity treatment in Madrid’s most exclusive neighbourhood then stay right here. This 5-star hotel occupies a beautifully restored 19th Century building inside which you’ll find Ramon Freixa, an incredible restaurant with 2 Michelin Stars, an inner-city courtyard and a modern gym. The hotel has its own wellness centre offering massages and a wide range of treatments as well as a library and plenty of other places to relax. The breakfast here doesn’t compare to anywhere else and the rooms are large, uniquely designed and modern. They can also organise a personal trainer and personal shopper if you need them.
For luxury on a smaller scale try TOTEM, another gorgeous property in the heart of Salamanca. The beautifully designed rooms are well-thought-out with both luxury and comfort in mind and arriving here feels like coming home- in style. Downstairs you find a chic, modern bar and restaurant and plenty of cool little spots to relax in during the day. The hotel also has a well-equipped gym with the most common machines and a good selection of free weights.
Probably my favourite hotel from the Petit Palace Group ICON Embassy oozes class and style. With continuous, superb reviews online, this design hotel features comfortable-sized rooms with great beds, stylish bathrooms and common spaces. If you need them, iPads are available on request and make sure not to miss the breakfast here- it’s delicious and offers plenty of choice for plant-based eaters.
Check rates and availability here booking.com
Located just opposite the Prado Museum, Paseo del Prado and close to Retiro park, the art theme continues throughout this property. Elegant and full of art both classical and modern, it’s the perfect place to stay for art lovers. With sleek, linear interiors and contemporary furnishings, this hotel is as comfortable as it is cool, a gorgeous space to call home when in Madrid. It also has a fitness centre, pool and some of the friendliest staff around.
If you’re a fan of art nouveau and green spaces, don’t miss this grand and elegant choice right opposite El Retiro Park. Make the most of evening park strolls and morning runs in this location while also enjoying this hotel’s stylish amenities, comfortable spaces and park views. They even have free bikes for guests to explore the city on two wheels for the day. Car parking is also available.
One of my personal favourites in Madrid, this hotel is just cool. With a retro feel throughout Only YOU is beyond snazzy and beckons to be explored from the cute, plant-filled restaurant to the retro gym. Inside you’ll also find a concert venue and on the roof, a spectacular restaurant/bar with a stunning view of the city. Rooms are modern, well-furnished and each with its own vibe. Stay here and you’ll feel like a child in a candy store attracted by all the bright lights and cool touches.
If you’re looking for something a little more than just a hotel room, you’ve got to check out L&H La Latina. Specialising in hotel rooms and studios, this place is perfect for those wanting to get the most out of their stay. Each room and studio is equipped with coffee and tea making facilities and studios also have access to a small kitchen with a stove, mini-fridge and microwave allowing you to make a few meals yourself and make the most of takeaways. The decor here is modern yet retro and rooms are great value for money- especially if you’re not planning on eating out for every meal!
Another great budget option, this hotel might not be as chic as the rest but it does tick all the boxes. Clean and airy? Check. Comfortable bed? Check. Lovey staff? Check. Great location? check. Some rooms also have access to a nice traditional balcony area with a rooftop view over Madrid.
A simple and neat option in the southern Lavapiés neighbourhood close to some of the coolest restaurants and bars in Madrid as well as El Rastro flea market. It’s a great budget option with each room coming with a TV, ensuite bathroom, minibar and safe and work/desk area with spacious and modern bathrooms. All in all, a great hotel option in Madrid.
Check rates and availability here booking.com
If you’re heading to Madrid with a group of friends or as a family, then definitely consider this large penthouse apartment option in Lavapiés. Sleeping up to four people this 50m2 apartment has a large living and dining area, modern bedroom and bathroom as well as a fully equipped kitchen with microwave, coffee maker, dishwasher and washer dryer. The decor is stylish in an atmospheric building in this quiet part of town yet not far from all the major sights. This option is also perfect for those staying a little longer than just a few nights.
For a peaceful but trendy stay right in the heart of the city, don’t miss Hotel Regina. Rooms here are clean, airy and finished with stylish touches and modern lighting and some even have balconies overlooking the famous Gran Via. Downstairs you’ll find a solid dinner option at their Mediterranean restaurant and a tasty breakfast served the next day. A clear winner is the very heart of Madrid.
Hotel Liabeny has the be the best choice in this central area for value for money, here you’ll get much more than what you’re paying for. Rooms here are large, comfortable and simple- in natural tones that complement each other. You’ll find a super comfortable bed and pillows here, desk, armchair and TV in all rooms as well as a modern, ensuite bathroom. The staff here are great and willing to help out with any questions you might have about the city.
If you’re a fan of minimalist design then you’ll definitely want to stay at this B&B Puerta del Sol location. Each room here has everything you need including a work area and en-suite bathroom. Definitely go for a room with a private terrace where you can enjoy the outdoor furniture and Madrid city views. On the rooftop, you’ll also find a lovely bar with a gorgeous view of the city where you can relax after a day of exploring. This is definitely a great option when figuring out where to stay in Madrid.
For more hotel options use the form below to find the perfect stay
THE BEST VRBO VACATION RENTALS IN MADRID
If you’re not a hotel person and you much prefer VRBO apartment rentals and Airbnbs in Madrid then you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of those too. We prefer to support VRBO at the moment as they definitely have the best cancellation policies compared to Airbnb and with travel now being as uncertain as it is, a great cancellation policy is key to your peace of mind when booking a trip. Here are our top choices for where to stay in Madrid when it comes to VRBO rentals.
A cute little nature-inspired one-bedroom apartment in Malasaña close to Gran Via is the perfect place for couples. Light, bright and airy, it’s tastefully decorated with vines and plants in all the rooms bringing nature inside to you. The bathroom is gorgeous and the kitchen is large and perfect for cooking evening meals and breakfast the next morning.
An absolutely gorgeous apartment located in a convenient area, in the heart of Malasaña neighbourhood, five minutes walk from Gran Via and ten from Chueca.
The apartment consists of a big living room with two sofa beds and original wooden beam structures, an independent kitchen fully equipped for all your needs and two bedrooms furnished all with a double bed -one of them is located upstairs with an ensuite bathroom. One bathroom more completes the space. It’s perfect for up to eight people. Nearby you’ll find many different cultural spots, bars and restaurants right on your doorstep, yet the apartment is virtually noise-free.
This one bedroom newly refurbished apartment, equipped with everything you need for a great stay, this apartment is modern, fresh and well maintained. It will happily sleep four and the small kitchen is perfect for a bit of entertaining and preparing breakfast. Located in one of the best areas of Madrid that’s full of life and things to do.
Located in the Salesas, northern part of Chueca, this beautiful one bedroom flat is well furnished, comfortable and ultra-modern with all the mod-cons, including two TVs, a large bathroom and a spotless kitchen. A highly recommended apartment for a couple or small family.
Barrio de Las Letras
Located almost on the edge of Barrio de la Letras, feel the luxury in this ample apartment in a lovely historical building. With high ceilings, large windows and a fireplace, this apartment is large, atmospheric and unique. Nearby you’ll find all the comforts of being in the centre of historical Madrid and a short walk away you can enjoy the Royal Palace, the Almudena Cathedral, Plaza España or get lost in Madrid de Los Austrias.
A 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment of pure luxury in Salamanca that feels just like a modern luxury hotel. Featuring a living room with a gas fireplace, marble dining table and large TV, it’s a great spot to relax in in the evenings. The bedrooms are beautifully decorated both with ensuite bathrooms. Ideal for a family or group of friends this is an opportunity you’re not going to want to pass up.
Just one block away from Retiro Park, this charming warehouse-style conversion is an amazing option for your Madrid stay. With exposed brick walls and high, industrial ceilings, this huge studio is a real gem and ideal for a couple but it sleeps up to 3. It’s so cool in fact it’s been featured on the covers of a number of interior magazines. If you’re a design lover make sure to snap this one up quick.
A great budget studio in La Latina for the travelling couple. Bright, airy and colourful, this studio is a small but cosy space- all that you’ll need if you’re out exploring all day. It’s clean and modern, the kitchen has everything you need to cook basic, healthy meals, the bathroom clean and modern and the bedroom/living area has a comfortable sofa to relax on and a separate sleeping area. A winner for the budget couple.
A lovely modern apartment in the centre of Lavapiés, this place is full of five-star views and we will definitely be staying here on our next trip to Madrid. With a large living room with a TV and two leather sofas, an ample kitchen and dining area and a separate bedroom with a double bed and ensuite bathroom. It’s a great space for two and in one of the best neighbourhoods of the city. At this price, it’s a steal too.
An eclectic, modern apartment a block away from Grand Via. Ideal for shoppers that will have all the major stores on their doorstep, this apartment is a lovely mix of green and gold that’s bright and full of character. It has 2 bedrooms but can easily accommodate 6 with the addition of the comfy sofa bed. Close to all the shops and main sites of Madrid, this apartment really is a steal- especially between 6.
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING MADRID
↠ Get used to Spanish eating hours. One of the biggest differences between Spaniards and other non-Hispanic cultures in the world is eating times. While you might be used to having lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 7 pm- this is virtually unheard of in Spain, so don’t be surprised if you go to a restaurant at 7 pm and find it empty or even closed, especially at the weekend. Spaniards typically have lunch at about 3 pm and dinner at about 9 pm during the week and at weekends when going out, it’s not unusual for the restaurants to be full at 11 pm. If you’re planning to go to a nightclub, don’t expect the party to get going until about 2 am. This oftentimes catches a few first-time visitors off guard and it does take a while to get used to, especially if you’re an early bird.
↠ Brush up on our Spanish. The majority of locals in Madrid, actually know quite little English (apart from those working in tourism of course), but even still, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your language skills. While you shouldn’t stress too much about trying to be fluent in Spanish, a few basic phrases will definitely help you to get around the city smoothly.
↠ Pack comfortable shoes and walk. Walking is a great way to see any European city and Madrid is no exception. Not to mention that it’s also one of the best ways to keep fit during a city break. Most sights are located pretty centrally and you can often go from one place to another on foot. There is also Retiro Park, which makes for a lovely stroll on a Sunday afternoon so make sure you have good footwear to be able to take it all in.
↠ Watch your belongings! While violent crime in Madrid is not at all common, pickpocketing, unfortunately, is. Make sure to watch your belongings especially in crowded, touristy places like El Rastro market (pickpocketing heaven), Gran Via and Puerta del Sol.
↠ Go to a tapas bar. When it comes to food, Madrid is the king of tapas and you simply cannot leave Madrid without having experienced a tapas bar. The busy ones full of locals are always the best, where you can secure yourself a nice spot at the bar and people watch.
↠ Stay clear of touristy centres to eat. If you really want to try some local and delicious Spanish food you’ll want to steer clear of Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, for eating that is. While those outdoor terraces look so inviting, the food is often overpriced and below par.
↠ Have a siesta. There’s nothing stopping you from following traditional Spanish culture and traditions so why not take the customary nap after lunch. You won’t however find most Madrileños joining you. Modern city life now means that almost everything stays open all afternoon and few people still indulge in the idea of the siesta, especially during the week.
Ready for your trip to Madrid? Check out some of these amazing things to do during your stay.
Where are you thinking about staying in Madrid? Let me know your comments and questions in the comments below.
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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