Welcome to the enchanting heart of Spain — Madrid! As you embark on a journey through this vibrant city, choosing the perfect place to stay becomes an integral part of your experience.
We’ll unveil the hidden gems and iconic neighborhoods that cater to every traveler’s desires.
Whether you crave the bustling energy of Gran Vía, the historic charm of La Latina, or the artistic ambiance of Malasaña, we’ll show you the diverse tapestry of Madrid’s districts, ensuring you find the ideal home away from home for an unforgettable stay.
The 5 Best Places to Stay in Madrid
Madrid is a huge city, with a population of around 6.7 million in its metro area, which covers 604.3 km2 of space. Speaking of Madrid’s greater metropolitan area, it’s divided into 21 districts and 131 neighborhoods, called barrios.
Obviously, all of them are quite different from each other and have their own specific atmosphere, history, good sides, and bad sides. But we think there are 5 “best” areas to stay in Madrid. These include:
- Puerta del Sol: The absolute center of the city, which holds Gran Vía, Madrid’s most famous street, a lot of shops, public squares, and the oldest restaurants in Madrid.
- Malasaña: The alternative part of Madrid with the best nightlife, counterculture scene, bars, and unusual restaurants.
- Salamanca: The most elite and expensive part of Madrid, famous for its luxurious hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and beautiful museums.
- Retiro: Also famous for its museums and Retiro park, it’s the best part of the city for a family trip.
- La Latina: Close to the center and the Campo del Moro, it has the best tapas places in Madrid and the cheapest accommodations in the city.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Madrid
Madrid offers countless options around its 131 barrios. Also, it’s not as expensive as other famous metropolises — like London, Paris, or Amsterdam, for example. That means that there are suitable options for every type of traveler.
There are plenty of budget, mid-range, and luxurious accommodation options. It just all depends on the specific area in which you want to stay, as some can be crazy expensive. Puerta del Sol and Malasaña offer the widest variety of accommodation options in the whole of Madrid.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend (and we speak literally when we say a lot!), don’t look for accommodation in Salamanca and Retiro. Salamanca is considered the most luxurious and expensive neighborhood in Madrid, and it doesn’t have a hotel lower than four stars — that’s Salamanca’s idea for a budget option.
Retiro is slightly cheaper, with more mid-range hotels, but also almost no budget choices. Finally, La Latina, close to both the Centro and the Campo del Moro, is the cheapest area in this guide.
Its matrix of interrelated labyrinthine streets can pose some problems for newcomers, but it has the largest variety of budget hotels. It is definitely the best place to stay if you are short on money.
1. Best Area for First-Time Visitors: Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol is the absolute center of Madrid and the best place to start your adventure in the capital of Spain. It’s the most suitable place to stay for first-time visitors, since they can easily go anywhere in the city from here.
The two most important things in Puerta del Sol are the eponymous public square and the city’s main street, Gran Vía, which is usually called Madrid’s Broadway. They are definitely the first two things you should immediately visit — without seeing them, it’s like you’ve never been to Madrid at all.
Puerta del Sol square holds three major monuments, which completely express the identity of the city. Real Casa de Correos (Royal House of the Post Office) is a 17th-century building that holds the office of the president of Spain.
On its top is the famous clock tower, whose bell traditionally signals the beginning of the new year. Close by is the statue of Charles III of Spain, one of the most beloved monarchs, sometimes called el Rey Alcalde (the mayor-king).
On the east side of the square, you’ll see the statue called el Oso y el Madroño (The Bear and the Strawberry), which is the heraldic symbol of Madrid. Gran Vía (Great way) is the main street in Madrid, and it’s the biggest shopping hub in the city.
You’ll find the best (and most expensive) shops in the city but also great cafes and restaurants where you can take a break or grab a bite. Puerta del Sol is also the historic center of Madrid, where you can see many important monuments and sights.
One of them is definitely the Royal Palace of Madrid, or Madrid’s Versailles, with its rococo design and more than 2000 rooms. Nearby is the baroque and quite beautiful Almudena Cathedral, but also the Sabatini Garden, better known as the royal gardens. The list is practically endless, and there’s so much more to see.
The accommodation situation in Puerta del Sol is really great. There’s something for everyone: a great variety of budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels, so regardless of your budget, you’ll easily find a place. Also, some of the best and oldest restaurants in the city are located in this area.
Puerta del Sol Budget Hotels
- Sungate ONE’s prime strength is its location and price. It’s quite cheap and very close to the absolute center of the city — 210 m from Puerta del Sol. It’s perfect for all the visitors who plan to spend their day outside, strolling through the city and its monuments.
Puerta del Sol Mid-Range Hotels
- L&H Gran Vía Selection is a great three-star hotel located in the heart of Puerta del Sol. It offers rooms with both a kitchen and a living room, and the kitchens have refrigerators and microwaves. The hotel has a balcony too.
- Woohoo Suites Madrid is a mid-range hotel, leaning toward the budget area, which is a great thing since it’s located 50 meters from Gran Via. There’s free Wi-Fi on the premises, flat-screen TVs, and king-sized beds. Great location and facilities at a great price!
Puerta del Sol Luxury Hotels
- Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid is located in the center of the center of Madrid, and there’s hardly any better place to stay in the whole city. Five stars, stylishly decorated rooms, a 24-hour gym, buffet, and restaurant on the premises — this is one of the best location/quality combinations you’ll get anywhere. The cherry on top is that it’s pet-friendly!
- Hotel Atlántico is located precisely in Madrid’s Gran Vía, next to Callao Metro Station. It has classically furnished rooms, a breakfast buffet and a coffee place on the premises, and different shops in the hotel itself. The breakfast is especially good.
2. Best Area for Nightlife: Malasaña
Madrid is not only about the aristocracy, tradition, palaces, and great museums. It’s also a place of unconventionality, weirdness, and vibrant nightlife. Close to the center but quite unlike it is the interesting neighborhood called Malasaña.
Its tiny streets are painted in graffiti and full of nightclubs, vintage shops, unusual restaurants, and hip cafes. During the late 70s and the 80s, it was the center of a counterculture movement La Movida Madrileña (The Madrilenian Scene), which wanted to distance Spain’s identity from its fascist history after the death of Francisco Franco.
That singular fact says a lot about the atmosphere prevailing in this neighborhood. During the day, you should visit the main plaza of the neighborhood called Plaza de Dos de Mayo and savor the food from some of the best restaurants in the city.
Also, visit the pedestrian Calle Fuencarral and have a walk, do some shopping, or drink a coffee. The real fun starts when night falls. Malasaña has maybe the best nightlife program in all of Madrid, and that’s saying something.
You’ll find most of the bars and clubs near Calle Espiritu Santo, Libertad, or the already mentioned pedestrian area, Calle Fuencarral. Generally, almost all places have live music and something special and different to offer.
We recommend the prohibition-inspired 1862 Dry Bar, Madklyn, which usually has live music, La Casa del Pez for fans of gin tonic, Casa Camacho for lovers of the old school and authentic, the vintage Lolina Vintage Café, and Fábrica Maravillas for the lovers of beer.
While staying in Malasaña, don’t forget to visit Chueca, the most LGBTQI+-friendly neighborhood in Madrid. It’s a youthful and bohemian place, much like Malasaña, and has a vibrant nightlife and an interesting avant-garde scene. People who like the first will surely adore the second.
In terms of accommodation, Malasaña has something for everybody. It has its fair share of mid-range hotels and luxurious places but also many cheap hostels and hotels suitable for students and people on a budget. Malasaña offers an open embrace to all who are looking for versatility, adventure, and a little scandal.
Malasaña Budget Hotels
- MuchoMadrid offers rooms with two, three, and four beds, and some of them come with a terrace overlooking Gran Via. It’s close to the center, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s quite decent.
- Hostal Adis is a three-star hotel with a great location, close to many shops and restaurants in the area. The rooms are air-conditioned, have flat-screen TVs, and a terrace.
Malasaña Mid-Range Hotels
- Bloom Inn Madrid is a three-star hotel with great rooms, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. It’s located around 300 meters from Gran Via. All the rooms are air-conditioned and have a desk, a kettle, and a safety deposit box.
- Petit Palace Triball is another three-star hotel set in a beautiful 19th-century building, which is also pet-friendly. The rooms have flat TVs and hydro-massager towels. It’s location is quite bombastic, in close proximity to no less than three galleries.
Malasaña Luxury Hotels
- 7 Islas Hotel, located 200 meters from Gran Via, is a luxurious hotel located at the heart of things, close to many shops and restaurants. The rooms are quite elegant, with marble bathrooms (some of them have a terrace), and a shop on the premises of the hotel.
- Melia Madrid Princesa is a five-star, super luxurious hotel in one of the most fun parts of Madrid. It has an indoor pool, free gym, extra special exclusive rooms on the top floors, and an elegant restaurant on the premises.
3. Most Luxurious Area: Salamanca
Located just north of downtown, Salamanca is a neighborhood that can be summed up in a few words: museums, fine dining, and luxurious accommodation.
It’s no secret that this is the upscale part of Madrid, full of high culture attractions and monuments, beautiful restaurants, streets full of expensive shops, and the most luxurious accommodations in the city.
For those who want to feel the elite of Madrid and who are not afraid to spend a lot of extra money, Salamanca is the perfect choice. Aside from the center of the city, Salamanca is the main museum hub of Madrid.
You just have to visit:
- Museo Arqueologico Nacional (National Archaeological Museum), full of artifacts from the dawn of human civilization, to the city late medieval ages — but also different stuff from South American, Etruscan and Roman origin.
- Museo Lazaro Galdiano, the home of the private collection of the art collector Lazaro Galdiano that boasts paintings from Cranach, Velasquez, Goya, Bosch, El Greco, and Zurbaran.
- Museo Casa de la Moneda (Mint Museum), an interesting museum fully dedicated to the history of money: the history of currency, coins, paper money, stamps etc.
- Casa de America’s, whose goal is to stimulate communication between the two cultures — American and Spanish. It’s located in a beautiful house, furnished in an incredible way. The institution holds many different exhibitions, events and happenings.
- Museo de la Biblioteca Nacional, located inside the National Archeological Museum, is the largest library in Spain, and one of the largest in the whole world. It serves many functions, like presenting the history of books, but also the studying of paintings, documents, etc.
After you’ve finished your extended tour through the museums of Salamanca, it’s definitely time to grab a bite. Don’t worry about that since this part of Madrid is the prime location for foodies. It’s full of Traveler’s Choice and Michelin-starred restaurants.
We recommend StreetXO, Banibanoo, Tatel, Los Montes de Galicia, Mano de Santa, Pastamore Alcalá, Ramón Freixa Madrid, and Zalacaín — among others. Finally, after you’ve toured all the museums and eaten your share of tasty food, it’s finally time to settle in some nice and cozy accommodation.
Again, don’t worry about that — Salamanca is full of beautiful hotels. What you should worry about, on the other hand, are the prices. Salamanca is one of the most expensive areas in Madrid, and you won’t find any budget hotels. Hotels with four stars are considered “budget” here.
Salamanca Budget Hotels
- Abba Madrid is a great four-star hotel, with well-furnished rooms and a Mediterranean restaurant on the premises. As a budget hotel in Salamanca is a relative term, this is the cheapest you can go in this luxurious and expensive neighborhood.
- NH Madrid Principe de Vergara is another four-star hotel that can be called a budget accommodation in relation to the expenses of the neighborhood. It has both a cafe and a cocktail bar, and an on-site restaurant. It’s pet-friendly and has a great terrace.
Salamanca Mid-Range Hotels
- VP El Madroño offers large, spacious rooms with kitchens, a private garden, and a terrace on the premises. It has a great location, close to many monuments and famous places. But the best thing is that it’s located 200 meters from Diego de León Metro Station, from where you can go wherever you want in Madrid.
- H10 Puerta de Alcalá has everything anybody can wish for. A terrace on the top of the building offers the city on the palm of your hand; a pool and a restaurant inside the hotel; and a lounge bar where you can enjoy a cocktail.
Salamanca Luxury Hotels
- Relais & Châteaux Heritage Hotel is just gorgeous. Urban and Belle Epoque styles mix to create this beautiful hotel, which is truly one of a kind. It has a breakfast serving buffet on the premises and a restaurant with a world-renowned chef. It even allows pets!
- Rosewood Villa Magna offers a combination of antique style with modern finishes. It has a spa, a bar, and a restaurant, all of them working at a high level. The hotel even has an airport shuttle. Again, even this luxury hotel is pet-friendly!
4. Best Area for Museums: Retiro
Right next to Salamanca, quite similar to it in one sense and quite different in another, is the neighborhood called Retiro. On the one hand, it’s a place of many museums and beautiful architecture — quite magnetic for many Hollywood stars, who either buy houses or spend their holidays in this dreamy area.
But, on the other hand, it’s probably the calmest and the most family-friendly neighborhood in all of Madrid, and that’s mainly due to its fine attraction — Parque del Buen Retiro.
Parque del Buen Retiro — literally “the retirement park” — is one of the biggest parks in Madrid, and since 2021, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s large and magnificent, full of mysterious gardens, forever unchanging ponds and sculptural masterpieces.
Aside from the beautiful nature, it’s like a museum — with many interesting and important features:
- One of the first things you’ll see when you enter the park is the famous Estanque del Retiro (“Retirement Pond”), with the monument of King Alfonso XII by its side.
- The Rosaleda (rose garden) is also a sight to behold, with another statue by its side, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel, inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
- There are some buildings in the park as well, like the Buen Retiro Palace, Casón del Buen Retiro, and the Salon de Reino, all of them museums. But there are also the Velázquez Palace and the Palacio de Cristal (“Crystal Palace”) inspired by its London counterpart.
- The Paseo de la Argentina, better known as Paseo de las Estatuas (“Statue Walk”) is decorated with the statues of the kings of the past.
Retiro Park holds many activities and events throughout the year. A book fair is one of them, free concerts another, but it also hosts sports events, puppet shows for children, etc. The park is a true microcosm of Madrid as a whole.
Like its neighbor Salamanca, Retiro is a top location for museums. You’ll find the so-called “Golden Triangle:” the extremely famous Museo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the contemporary Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Each of them deserves a full day, but don’t you dare miss Prado since it’s one of the most important museums for European art — probably as famous as the Parisian Louvre itself.
The area has many mid-range hotels and a variety of luxurious or quasi-luxurious hotels, but it’s not the best place if you’re on a budget. The food, on the other hand, is not a problem, since Retiro offers a wide variety of options.
Retiro Budget Hotels
- Apartamentos El Puente is a budget option especially suitable for couples. It hasn’t much to offer except its location — one of the best neighborhoods in Madrid. The apartment has a kitchen, and the hotel has a terrace.
- La Llave De Madrid is another three-star budget hotel in Retiro, which compensates for its average qualities with its location. But, it also has a nice garden, and the view from the hotel is quite decent. The rooms are also nothing to be ashamed of.
Retiro Mid-Range Hotels
- Ayre Gran Hotel Colón is located between the city center and Retiro Park, offering a great place to stay if you want to visit both neighborhoods. Its rooms are furnished in a modern atmosphere, and the restaurant on the premises is quite great.
- NH Madrid National is a decent three-star hotel with free Wi-Fi, soundproof rooms, and flat TVs. The restaurant on the premises serves a nice breakfast to prepare you for a tiring day of sightseeing.
Retiro Luxury Hotels
- Claridge Madrid is located a ten-minute walk from Retiro Park. It boasts family-friendly rooms with flat satellite TVs. It also has a nice fitness center on the premises and a bar famous for its Spanish food.
- Only YOU Hotel Atocha is another four-star hotel in Retiro with soundproof rooms, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. It’s pet-friendly — like many hotels in Madrid — and it has a cafe and a bakery on the premises.
5. Most Budget-Friendly Area: La Latina
Located just to the south of Centro (a few minutes’ walk), La Latina is one of Madrid’s most beautiful, spontaneous, and interesting neighborhoods.
It may be a bit hard for a newcomer to Madrid to orient themselves in the neighborhood’s tiny, labyrinthine streets, but it’s definitely worth it — the true atmosphere of the city is clearly reflected in them.
The area is quite close to the center but also to Madrid’s biggest park, Campo del Moro. With more than 20 hectares of land, it is simply a marvel to behold. It’s full of fountains — like the Conchas fountain and the Tritons fountain — trails and gardens.
Campo del Moro is surely one of the most important things you’re going to see in Madrid. Maybe the strongest side of La Latina is the food. The labyrinthine streets are filled with restaurants and bars — even some of the oldest restaurants, not only in Madrid but the world.
Some of the best tapas in the city, for example, are located on Calle Cava Baja Street, and you just have to try them. La Latina is the place where you’ll see El Rastro, Spain’s most famous morning market.
It’s full of shops and restaurants, so you can spend your whole Sunday here, just shopping and eating around the place. Just be careful: the place’s usually very crowded and swarming with pickpockets. Finally, there’s no lack of history in La Latina — actually, it’s one of Madrid’s oldest neighborhoods.
Make sure you visit two important Christian monuments.
- First, the 16th century Iglesia de San Andrés church, which holds the remains of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of Madrid.
- Second, the beautiful Basilica de San Francisco El Grande, which holds the massive and impressive paintings of two Spanish artistic legends, the baroque Zurbaran and the romantic Francisco Goya.
La Latina is not an expensive place, regardless of the fact that it’s close to the Centro. Actually, it’s the place where you’ll find a lot of budget options. Some of the cheapest hotels and hostels in our guide are in La Latina. But for those who are looking for luxurious accommodation, they had better go to Retiro or Salamanca.
La Latina Budget Hotels
- Petit Hostel is a beautiful and very cheap hostel with a great location. It has free Wi-Fi and a shared bathroom, and it’s close to almost everything of importance in La Latina and the center of Madrid. Generally, it’s a hell of a bargain if you’re on a budget.
- Hotel Madrid Río is a two-star hotel that’s also quite cheap (slightly more expensive than Petit Hostel), but with better facilities and an equally great location. It even has a restaurant and a solarium on the premises.
La Latina Mid-Range Hotels
- NH Madrid Ribera del Manzanares is a mid-range hotel with a suitable price. It’s pet-friendly and has a restaurant on the premises called La Ribera Restaurant, specialized in Mediterranean and Spanish dishes. The hotel also has a nice fitness center.
- NH Pozuelo Ciudad de la Imagen is a three-star hotel with free Wi-Fi, bright rooms, and flat-screen TVs. It’s located just a minute walk from Casa de Campo, and has a great city and park view.
La Latina Luxury Hotels
- Posada del León de Oro Boutique Hotel is a four-star hotel in the neighboring Los Austrias, which is practically in the center. The rooms are equipped with modern bathrooms and plasma TVs, and there’s a nice restaurant on the premises.
So, Where Should You Stay in Madrid?
You came to the finish line of this guide to Madrid, and that wasn’t an easy task. Madrid is big and full of things, and the guide for potential travelers should be big and full of things as well.
Now, let’s recap our recommendations:
|🏢 Best for First-Time Visitors
|Puerta del Sol
|🎉 Best Area for Nightlife
|🥂 Most Luxurious Area
|🖼️ Best Museums
|💸 Most Budget-Friendly area
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Madrid, you’ll love the ample history, the rich culture, the friendly locals, and the many places to find amazing food, situated all around you. So what are you waiting for — book a trip today!