Calle del Pez 19, Madrid, 28004, Spain
Abalú is a hotel that makes no apologies about its quirkiness. Its mismatched textiles, humongous wall art, and color-changing LED lights—the handiwork of interior designer Luis Delgado—are reminders to not take vacation too seriously. Situated on Calle Pez, one of the city’s liveliest tapas streets, you’re sure to spend more time wining and dining than lounging around the hotel, though uncommon perks, such as in-room jacuzzis, make the higher-end rooms particularly alluring. The owners also have a no-frills hotel (Life) two blocks away, on the quieter Calle Pizarro, with rooms that sleep up to four people.
There’s no shortage of visual stimulation in Abalú’s wildly decorated rooms, but the bells and whistles belie welcome comforts such as memory-foam mattresses and smart TVs. Junior suites are a vacation in themselves with jacuzzis, iMacs, and cinema projectors (even if the jacuzzis could use some refurbishing).
YOU SHOULD KNOW Noise from the street and neighboring rooms can be jarring. Opt for an interior room and pack earplugs to ensure a good night’s sleep.
“Designer” bathrooms concealed by thin glass panels may appear stylish but are ultimately impractical and uncomfortable.
If you can get past its psychedelic design palette, Abalú’s lobby is a pleasant place for brief lounging.
Need recommendations? Ask the front-desk staff. They know the neighborhood like the back of their hand.
Does one treadmill plus a few dumbbells in the basement count as a gym? We'll let you decide.
Breakfasts are simple and adequate, lacking in variety but excelling in quality (fresh-squeezed orange juice is a welcome treat).
YOU SHOULD KNOW Early risers may not appreciate that breakfast starts at 9 a.m.
Abalú is a true-blue neighborhood hotel, tucked away on a side street in the trendy Malasaña district. Most of the city’s top sites are within 20 minutes from the hotel on foot, but the metro is easily accessible at Santo Domingo (Line 2) and Plaza de España (Lines 3 and 10).
One of Madrid’s best tapas streets, Calle Pez, is right outside your door at Abalú. Start your evening at Pez Tortilla (2-minute walk), an elbow-to-elbow bar specializing in unconventionally flavored Spanish potato omelets, all made in real-time. Then, meander down to Palentino (3-minute walk) for no-nonsense €2 beef cutlet sandwiches and beer, and delight in the ramshackle, grandfatherly décor that’s hardly changed a lick since 1942, the year it opened. Save the best for last, Bar Galleta (4-minute walk), a neighborhood hotspot serving fusion tapas like crispy-prawn rigatoni and raspberry-hoisin chicken wings.
Beer lovers unite at Fábrica Maravillas (8-minute walk), Madrid’s only city-center brewpub. Choose from a dozen draft beers that were brewed just steps from your barstool. If cocktails are more your speed, duck into La Bicicleta (6-minute walk), a retro café one block up that transforms into a low-key, dimly lit bar by night.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Laid-back travelers looking to get immersed in Madrid’s alternative scene can’t go wrong by booking at Abalú. It’s a funky hotel in a funky district, and rooms offer great value, particularly in the higher-end categories. Though the décor may be over the top for some, it mirrors the hotel’s youthful, lighthearted atmosphere.
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