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Madrid

Where to stay in Madrid

Not sure where to book in Madrid? We've got you covered with our area guide to the best hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions all over the city

By Time Out Madrid
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Great accommodation is the cornerstone to every dream vacay, and that means location, location, location. In Madrid, every neighbourhood has its own character and feel, so we’ve created this guide to help you choose the area that’s just right for your taste, needs and preferences.

That’s right, from the nightlife in Chueca to the tranquillity of Chamberí; the classic architecture in Los Austrias to the alternative Malasaña; from multicultural Lavapiés to the epicentre of tourism, Sol – Madrid has a barrio that'll fit your vibe. Check out our selection of the best neighbourhoods in Madrid. 

Looking for more options? Check out the best Airbnbs in Madrid.

Malasaña

From the heart of the Madrid ‘La Movida’ countercultural movement to the trendy neighbourhood it is today, Malasaña has seen some huge changes in the last century. Today, contemporary eateries and chic shops live alongside the traditional bars and markets that have populated the neighbourhood since the dawn of time. It’s also one of the top areas in town for going out thanks to its central location. The graffiti art you’ll find around this neighbourhood hasn’t only been passed over by the city government’s clean-up crews but it’s treated as real art (some works truly are). What’s more, a new restaurant or gastrobar opens nearly every week in the neighbourhood, and most of them now serve Sunday brunch (something relatively new to Spain), offer the latest in gastronomic trends, let you bring your dog along with you, and even provide an indoor space to park your bike.

EAT

Casa Macareno

Casa Macareno isn’t trying to be anything other than itself. The menu is built on classic tapas and snacks honouring traditional Spanish tastes, but there’s always something new and exciting to try. Dishes like fresh fish crudo, tartares and inventive vegetable preparations marry convention and innovation and leave adventurous diners wanting more.

DRINK

Santamaría

If you’re searching for crisp gin and tonics, personable bartenders and plenty of yummy snacks, look no further than Santamaría. This cosy cocktail bar - with great music and a central location - is a staple for both locals and tourists.

DO

Plaza del Dos de Mayo

Here in Malasaña's most well-known square is where you'll find local partygoers meeting up regularly (although gone are the days of the free-flowing public drinking, thanks to a greater police presence). All the merriment is presided over by a great fenced-in arch that represents the entrance to the Cuartel de Monteleón: the square is located on the site where the Palacio de Monteleón was built, and was then made into the Parque de Artillería in 1807. This spot was later razed during a battle against French occupation on May 2, 1808.

STAY

7 Islas Hotel

One of our favourite hotels in Malasaña is the 7 Islas. Its rooms are designed by the Kikekeller firm, one of the most well-known design studios in the neighbourhood. Three of them feature a private terrace with city views, a bathtub or shower, and a yoga kit, as well as artisan rugs by Gan Rugs and therapeutic and natural amenities from Malin + Goetz. A paradise in the centre of Madrid that also boasts its own art gallery and a lobby bar.

If you do just one thing…

You can't leave town without trying the cracking croquettes at La Gastro Croquetería de Chema.

Chueca

Chueca is known for being Madrid’s gay neighbourhood. Shops, bars and even travel agencies focus primarily on their LGBTI clientele, who have revamped the area and now live happily alongside some of the older locals who have called Chueca their home for decades. The area’s Gay Pride festivities are world-famous, and it’s also where tourists who love the big nights out book in for central accommodation. The heart of the neighbourhood is Plaza de Chueca a regular meeting place with its own metro stop. You’ll notice the progressive transformation of the area in the modernization of its cultural venues, such as the Mercado de San Antón, for example, which, with its art gallery and bar with terrace, isn’t just a market, though you can still enjoy perusing the stalls for fresh meat, fish, and fruit and veg.

EAT

La Buena Vida

This restaurant might have a sparse interior, but that only allows the the food to shine brighter. Intense attention to seasonal ingredients and a great wine cellar are two of the reasons La Buena Vida is one of our favorite spots in both Chueca and all of Madrid. 

DRINK

Angelita

At Angelita, you can take your pick from over 500 wines from in and around Madrid (and the rest of Spain), as well as impressive French and Portuguese selections. You can also check out the cocktail list for something different, and don’t forget to order some snacks from the small (but mighty) menu.

DO

Museo del Romanticismo

If the works of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Goethe, Lord Byron or Rosalia de Castro touch your heart, youll definitely want to visit this museum that shows how people lived in the Romantic era in Spain, during the 19th century. The Romanticism Museum contains a charming collection of over 1,600 pieces including furniture, paintings, china, pianos, and more. It’s all on display to the public after major refurbishing kept it closed for eight years until its reopening in 2009. Be sure to grab a cup of coffee at the Café del Jardín (Garden Café), one of the best kept secrets in the capital.

STAY

Only You Boutique Hotel Madrid

This lovely four-star hotel is housed in a small palace that was restored in the 19th century. Its interior design combines the modern with colonial details, and each room has its own unique and cozy decor, along with a 42-inch television, dressing gowns, an iPhone dock and a well-stocked minibar, among other amenities. The lounge offers guests a relaxed ambience with background music, ideal for enjoying any of the variety of cocktails and gourmet dishes.

If you do just one thing…

Be sure to head up to the rooftop of the hotel The Principal Madrid, where you can take in stellar views of Gran Vía.

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Andén Cero
Andén Cero

Chamberí

From hunting grounds to a district of aristocracy, Chamberí has always been an area in constant flux. This is a traditional, serene neighbourhood that’s free from the touristy hustle and bustle of the city centre. With wide streets and flats going for eye-watering prices, it has become a hotspot for fine-dining and classy restaurants. Not just thanks to the revitalization of C/Ponzano – an obligatory pilgrimage for fans of tapas crawls and good food – but also because of the traditional restaurants and taverns that have withstood the test of time. What this area lacks in green spaces (parks are few and far between) it makes up for in awe-inspiring architecture, as well as its cultural spaces that survive especially thanks to an older population that still go to the cinema, the theatre and art museums. What you’ll find here is an eclectic equilibrium between tradition and the avant-garde that’s missing from other areas of Madrid.

EAT

Lakasa

Everything’s very nice as soon as you cross the threshold. Before you’ve had time to scoot your chair up to the table, a staff member approaches with a tempting trolley. Generous pours of wine, a selection of vermouths and more to prepare the palate. It’s hard to say no to a Barbiana sherry or a Galician vermouth. You look over the menu while waiting for your drink to arrive. Everything looks good. You spot the house speciality – potatoes mashed with gizzard and jowls – along with seasonal recommendations and some 20 other dishes (starters and mains) that, thanks to their half portions, let you choose your own adventure through the outstanding and polished kitchen of César Martín, who moves about happily here and there in his open workspace.

DRINK

Arima

A Basque tavern promising any vermouth fan a good time, Arima combines past and present in their unpretentious space. Try some casual ‘pintxos’ with your drinks or explore the off-the-menu specials in the six-table dining room. Classic recipes like Iberian pork jowls with baby fava beans showcase the restaurant’s dedication to tradition and execution.

DO

Andén Cero

Though Andén Cero (Platform Zero) is the official name of this historic corner of the district, everyone calls it the Estación Fantasma de Chamberí (the Chamberí Ghost Station). This station used to be part of Line 1 on the metro (between the still-active Iglesia and Bilbao stations) and seeing how it would have been in the first half of the century, advertising posters and all, is a moment worthy of a scene in 'Back to the Future'. No movie set could match it. An exhibition about the metro and its effects on the city and citizens round out this visit to the past.

STAY

Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection

Discretely tucked away in the Chamberí neighbourhood, this hotel is the old residence of the Duke of Santo Mauro. Nowadays it boasts 51 luxuriously decorated rooms, with extra large beds and bay windows adorned with silk curtains. The palace’s old library has been converted into a distinguished restaurant, and the former ballrooms are now conference rooms that open on to carefully goomed gardens.

If you do just one thing…

Don’t miss taking a peek at the impressive Hospital de Maudes.

La Latina

La Latina is definitely Madrids top neighbourhood for tapas, mojitos and terraces, much to the dismay of some the areas local inhabitants. At weekends its nearly impossible to find a spot in the jam-packed bars and restaurants, although during the week its more like any other area, with residents shopping at the Mercado de la Cebada, and kids playing in any of La Latinas many squares. Its also full of lovely churches and basilicas sometimes hidden down narrow streets, which are worth stopping in for a look. A local Madrid tradition is heading to the Rastro market on Sunday mornings, and having a few beers nearby afterwards.

EAT

Gastronómico Corral de la Morería

Dinner and a show make the perfect pair if you ask us. And because Corral de la Moraría is the most iconic place in Madrid for flamenco, it follows that their restaurant is a standout in the restaurant scene. Pull up a chair, indulge in the nightly tasting menu and watch as food and art become one.

DRINK

La Osita

House-brewed beers, a curated selection of gins, whiskeys and wines, and snacks from restaurant partners? Sign us up. At La Osita, two best friends have created the perfect place to kick back in La Latina and we just can’t get enough.

DO

Basílica de San Francisco el Grande

This huge, multi-tiered church between Puerta de Toledo and the Palacio Real is difficult to miss. A monastery on the site, reputedly founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, was knocked down in 1760; in its place, between 1761 and 1784, Francisco Cabezas, and later Francesco Sabatini, built this neo-classical church. Most challenging was the construction of the spectacular dome, with a diameter of 33m (108ft). Inside there is an early Goya, 'The Sermon of San Bernardino of Siena' (1781), and several frescoes by other artists dating from the 17th century to the 19th century.

STAY

Posada del Dragón

Located on Cava Baja, one of the busiest streets in La Latina, this four-star boutique hotel was a municipal granary, a place where they stored bread and regulated its sale and distribution, at the start of the 16th century. Constructed as a guest house in 1868 for the Marquis de Cubas, today it enjoys protected status. The name comes from the mythical dragon that guarded the Puerta de Moros in the old Christian wall that once surrounded Madrid. The hotel has 27 cosy rooms, each one decorated differently.

If you do just one thing…

Enjoy watching the sunset from the Dalieda dahlia gardens next to the Basílica de San Francisco el Grande.

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Sol-Gran Vía

Puerta del Sol and its surrounding areas take a deserved place near the top of the list of places Madrid newbies want visit. As well as being the true centre of the city (and the starting point for all the motorways in the whole of Spain), this is a great meeting place for locals and tourists alike thanks to its location smack-dab in the middle of the Madrid and great public transport links. The oldest building in the area is the Casa de Correos, where youll find the seat of the government of the Community of Madrid; every New Years Eve hundreds of revellers congregate here to ring in the new year under its clock tower. This is also a big shopping district, and its home to the famous Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry Tree) statue, a symbol of Madrid. Just next to this emblematic square is the Gran Vía, the main artery of the city and where youll find big clothing brands like Zara, H&M and Mango.

EAT

AskuaBarra

This isn’t a place to go if you want a fork for each course or if you expect a black napkin to match your pants. But if you don’t mind tables without cloths and you do want to explore some of the most exciting cuisine and drinks in Madrid, head to AskuaBarra. We’ll see you there. 

DRINK

Gran Clavel 

With a central location and plenty of options in the way of food and drink, Gran Clavel is a can’t-miss spot for anything from Saturday stews to boquerones with kimchi mayonnaise. 

DO

Círculo de Bellas Artes

The Círculo de Bellas Artes occupies a superb building, designed by Antonio Palacios and completed in 1926. Despite its persistent funding problems, it is a key player in every aspect of the Madrid arts scene. The Círculo offers a plethora of classes, exhibitions, lectures and concerts in its theatre and concert hall, as well as an annual masked ball for carnival. Its café is well worth visiting, whether to see the marvellous 'El Salto de Léucade' by Moisés de Huerta or for its wonderful views, though it has received its share of criticism alleging a decline in quality. Its rooftop terrace is usually packed and is a good option for summer evenings.

STAY

Dear Hotel

It’s hard to choose just one from among the magnificent hotels along Gran Vía. But we’ve selected the Dear Hotel for all it has to offer. Just a few steps from Plaza de España, the Dear’s rooms are elegant and sunny, with high-speed WiFi, robes, 40-inch TVs and a minibar with free mineral water, among other amenities. Up on the rooftop there’s a small swimming pool and a terrace, affording impressive views of the square below, and a restaurant, Nice to Meet You, whose menu features something for everyone, including croquettes and fried squid ‘rabas’ as well as Asian-inspired gyozas and baos, plus modern spins on fish and meat dishes.

If you do just one thing…

Try the churros with chocolate in the famous chocolatiers San Ginés, a favourite spot for snacks in the wee hours among the areas late-night crowd before heading home.

Lavapiés
Lavapiés
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Lavapiés

This part of town is a perfect representation of the eclectic mix of cultures Madrid has experienced in recent years. It’s always been a humble area, where, until the ’80s, mostly elderly people lived in the ‘corralas’, buildings whose apartment doors open up onto an interior patio of sorts, very typical in old Madrid. Thanks to the exciting multicultural vibe that has developed in this neighbourhood, as well as rent being a good deal cheaper than in other parts of the city, younger people have moved in and live together with the older locals. In total, the neighborhood boasts inhabitants of some 88 different nationalities. Indian restaurants are just as busy as their neighbouring traditional Madrid taverns – C/Argumosa, full of terraces, is one of the busiest in the area – and immigrants make up the social fabric that holds Lavapiés together. The San Lorenzo festival is celebrated here as well; the big party takes place every August, and fills the streets with locals and visitors. Tapapiés, the weeklong internationally flavoured tapas route has also become a must on the yearly calendar. 

EAT

La Lorenza

La Lorenza promises everything in the way of unmatched croquettes, a warm atmosphere and Galician influence. Add in fresh bread and a formidable wine list and you might begin to understand why this bar is so special; but the only real way to experience the true hospitality is to stop in, grab a stool and and drink whatever they serve you. 

DRINK

La Fisna

If you go to La Fisna, you won’t just get a great glass (or two… or three) of wine. What you’ll get is an education. Ask for staff recommendations and munch on classic snacks like fresh meats, cheeses and homemade sourdough. 

DO

Reina Sofía Museum

Located where Lavapiés meets Atocha, this is a must for art fans and one of the most important contemporary art museums in all of Spain. One of the features that draws us in is its impressive façade with glass and steel lift-shafts, designed by British architect Ian Ritchie. And it’s no less glorious if you come in through the back, where you’re greeted by three buildings, principally built of glass and steel, arranged around a courtyard and all covered by a triangular, zinc-and-aluminium roof, the work of French architect Jean Nouvel. This ambitious extension project adds almost 30,000 sq m to the already vast art space in the patio to the south-west of the main edifice. It includes temporary exhibition spaces. The Reina Sofías great jewel is unquestionably 'Guernica', Picasso's impassioned denunciation of war and fascism.

STAY

Hola Rooms

This boutique hotel is nestled inside a building that enjoys protected status from the City of Madrid, both its façade and its interior. Dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, the building was originally destined to house carriages. All the rooms feature Nordic design, private bathroom, WiFi, 32-inch TVs and daily cleaning service. In the same street, just a few feet from the Plaza de Tirso Molina, the famous poet and childrens writer Gloria Fuertes was born in 1918.

If you do just one thing…

Meander around the stalls in the Mercado de Anton Martín, between fishmongers and butchers, and corners of gastronomy where you can feast on sandwiches, sushi, ramen and more, and even try some craft beers.

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Barrio de las Letras

There’s a great link to literature in Barrio de las Letras. Youll find that the streets are scribbled on with clever lines (C/Huertas has famous quotes inscribed in the pavement), this area was home to some awesome authors from the Golden Age in Spanish literature, including Cervantes and Quevado. Because of C/Huertas’ heavy footfall, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat or a drink. Plus, you’ll find the Golden Triangle of Art here, a trio of important art museums, all within spitting distance of each other.

EAT

Gofio

If you were reading through this list desperately hoping to find something about the food of the Canary Islands, we have you covered. At Gofio you’ll find some of the most exciting dishes in the city all churned out by the young chef, Safe Cruz. Choose between two tasting menus and crack open a beer and we bet you’ll be coming back for more.

DRINK

DisTinto Taverna

In a neighborhood of beer spots, DisTinto stands out for its focus on wine and locally sourced culinary offerings. Their cellar is sure to have something for everyone, whether you have your heart set on a glass of your favorite red or are down to finally figure out what skin-contact wines actually are.

DO

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Remember the Golden Triangle of Art? The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a vital member of that triad, along with Prado Museum and Reina Sofía Museum. The Thyssen flies the flag for contemporary artwork ad the collection is largely made up of pieces once owned by Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a renowned Dutch-born industrialist and art aficionado, who passed away in 2002. It’s housed in Palacio de Villahermosa, an eighteenth-century ducal palace that was remodelled in 1805 and again renovated in the ’90s by architect Rafael Moneo to serve as a museum.

STAY

ME Madrid Reina Victoria

This avant-garde design hotel situated in Madrid’s historic Plaza Santa Ana is beautiful to look at, even if its not your basecamp. Built in the nineteenth century, ME Madrid Reina Victoria gives off the vibe of a luxury ocean liner with a lighthouse at one end. The rooms are just a fancy as you’d expect them to be – all sleek design and mod cons. The rooftop bar, Radio ME, is also worth a visit, if only for the views.

If you do just one thing…

Go and marvel at the meticulously planted, 24-metre-high vertical garden beside the entrance to the CaixaForum cultural centre.

Los Austrias

The most historic neighbourhood in Madrid keeps the secrets of the great monarchs who once lived among its monuments, churches and palaces. From the Almudena Cathedral to Plaza Mayor, the stunning structures of Los Austrias attract armies of tourists who look up in awe at the incredible feats of construction that were built by the ancestors of Madrid. Restaurants in the area serve traditional Madrid stew (cocido madrileño), while the Sabatini Gardens is an awesome spot for travel-weary tourists so relax and take in some natural beauty.

EAT

Taberna La Bola

If you want to try the traditional cocido madrileño we mentioned earlier, then there’s no better place than La Bola. This family-run restaurant, which has been in the same hands since it opened in 1870, is famed for its Spanish stew. They also cook on an oak charcoal grill, which is another tradition of theirs. Be sure to pop in for lunch, as that’s the only time the cocido is served.

DRINK

Café Madrid

Cocktails named after iconic places in Madrid, flowing varieties of vermouth, tasty snacks and room for you to bring your dog. That’s right, Cafe Madrid offers all of this right between La Plaza de Ópera and La Plaza Mayor - if you’re anything like we are, you’ll never want to leave.

DO

Palacio Real

The entrance to the Royal Palace is awe-inspiring. You ascend a vast staircase and then enter the Hall of Halbardiers and Hall of Columns, all with soaring ceilings and frescoes by Corrado Giaquinto and Giambattista Tiepolo. While it still belongs to the royal family, hundreds of rooms in the building are open to the public. Explore the grand Throne Room, where there are some fine seventeenth-century sculptures commissioned by Velázquez that were saved from the original palace in 1734 after a fire decimated the building. Other highlights include the ornate private apartments of the palaces first resident, Carlos III; the the kings dressing room (Gasparini Room) covered in mosaics and rococo stuccoes by Mattia Gasparini; and the Porcelain Room, its walls covered entirely in porcelain reliefs.

STAY

Petit Palace Posada del Peine

Set down a quaint little street in the city centre, the Petit Palace Posada del Peine only gets better once you get inside. It’s housed in a building that dates back to 1610 and parts of its ancient walls and beams can still be seen around the place. Each room comes with a hydromassage shower, as well as the usual amenities, plus iPads are available on request. You can borrow a bike from reception (depending on availability) or take it easy with a coffee in the bright restaurant.

If you do just one thing…

Pay a visit to Mercado de San Miguel, the only cast iron covered market that has survived the mists of time in Madrid.

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