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What neighborhood/area to use as base in Madrid?

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This is our first time and very excited! When I tried to look this up on the previous posts, most of the entries were actual hotel recommendations. What I was curious about is what neighborhood would be a good cenral base for exploring the major tourist sites - the Prado, Thyssen, Reina Sofia, etc, but most importantly, the feel of the neighborhood. What is most similar to the 6th Arr in Paris in terms of a good central location, the neighborhood feel, bistros and restaurants, cafes galore, as well as little boutique shops(instead of chain stores)the actual neighborhood.

A friend of mine highly recommended the Barrio Salamanca area but from looking at the area, I get the sense that although it is chic and fancy, etc. it might feel too quiet and isolated at night? Or maybe that's just a false impression, and if so, then maybe someone can clarify it for me.

Although we would like a vibrant neighborhood, I don't mean something that has the feel of Times Square though.

I hope that sort of gives a sense of what I'm looking for? And when you recommend the neighborhood, if there is a hotel in that neighborhood that yo ucan recommend, I'd be even more grateful!!!

THANK YOU so much!!!

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