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Madrid hotels, first time visitor needs help.

Madrid hotels, first time visitor needs help.

Jan 7th, 2008, 07:03 AM
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Madrid hotels, first time visitor needs help.

What neighborhood location for a hotel would you recommend for a first time visitor to Madrid? My husband and I will be there for 5 days the first week of June at the end of a trip to the Basque area of France.

I'm not concerned so much about actual hotels/apartments yet, those questions will come after more research.

I am wondering if Madrid has easily defined neighborhoods like Paris. We would like a street, not too noisy but well located for visits to the museums, churches and other points of interest for a Madrid newbie Thank you very much for any help you can give.

DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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Hi Deborah Anne,

although Madrid is quite walkable, there can be quite a trek if you ar eone side of town and what you want to see is the other.

so unless you are comfortable using the metro or like walking, a central hotel is a good idea. somewhere around the "sol" area.

we stayed at the hotel opera, which is near the opera

and plaza oriente [royal palace].

it was a nice area but quite a trek to the museums and the station. but very convenient for lots of restaurants and bars.

have a look at www.maribelsguides.com for more ideas.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 08:13 AM
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Yes, like Paris, Madrid has easily defined neighborhoods. One of the nicest is the Salamanca district. You might want to download a free copy of Maribel's Guide to Madrid for a better understanding of where to stay and what to expect.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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I agree with Robert above, check out Maribel's guides for excellent info on Madrid.

I always stay in the area near the Prado museum. Recently I have stayed at the Hotel Villa Real which I really like. It's part of the Derby hotels chain :
cruiseluv is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 08:51 AM
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While I definitely agree with Ann that Madrid is quite "walkable," my husband and I preferred a quieter neighborhood than the Plaza del Sol. We were in a rental apartment a block west of Retiro park (and just south of the Plaza de la Independencia). This location is about 4 blocks north of the Prado and Thyssen art museums (both are not to be missed!), and about 2 blocks from the Banco de Epana Metro stop. We found the Metro to be very convenient and efficient for getting anywhere we needed/wanted to be in Madrid in less than 30 minutes – a definite "sole-saver"! ;> I agree with Robert that the Salamanca neighborhood is lovely (and quiet).

We were in Madrid 8 nights just this past November, and were very, very pleased with staying in an apartment in a quiet residential/business (office) area – safe, quiet, and convenient. We would definitely rent an apartment again in Madrid (ours was 120 Euro per night) – and we would most certainly use Friendly Rentals again (they have almost 150 properties in Madrid, many in the Salamanca neighborhood – their staff is all English-speaking and most helpful): http://www.friendlyrentals.com

If you're interested, here is a review of the apartment that I did for Slow Travel (http://www.slowtrav.com/spain/vr/review.asp?n=3199), an excellent resource for vacation rental reviews if you haven't already discovered it.

One plus… most of these apartments have wireless or ADSL service, so we took our small laptop. It was a great tool to plan our activities for the day (agree again with Ann and Cruise – Maribel's guides are excellent!). We also used it to plan our walking/Metro route using the Metro's website (enter origin and destination address – or point of interest; click "English" at the top of the page, if needed): http://tinyurl.com/nvnaa

There is much more information in a trip report I did on 11/15/07 (apartment stays in Rome and Madrid) – just click on my screen name above, then scroll down – it was my first TA post.

Best of luck with your planning efforts – as you can tell from my screen name, it's a part of travel that I enjoy as well.

PS To stock the apartment with food/beverage, we took the Metro to Plaza del Sol (only two stops) to the Corte Ingles department store (think upscale Wal-Mart on nine levels). The lower level is a large supermarket with everything you'll need.
Love2Plan is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 09:00 AM
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another vote for Retiro ( near Prado) and Salamnca. Much classier and less noisy than Sol .
It is not too far to walk to other parts of central Madrid from there or ,only a few stops by subway.
danon is online now  
Jan 7th, 2008, 09:14 AM
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Hi Love2plan,

Just checked the apt. Looks nice and in a great area. My only concern would be that the apt doesn't seem to have A/C. If it's for a summer stay, Madrid can get terribly hot. First week of June , as Deborah is going might not be a problem though.
cruiseluv is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 09:18 AM
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Look up a small chain called Room Mate. The Alicia for example on Plaza Santa Ana is less than a year old. An odd name especially when you realized mate in Spanish means kill.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for the very helpful replies, I have already looked at some of the maribel guides for the Basque area.

Ron and I love to walk, love the convenience of subways so your neighborhood suggestions are exactly what I was seeking. Now I just have to find the streets on those little maps in the guide books I haven't bought a street book for Madrid yet. I hope there is something like my favorite, the Paris Mapguide by Michael Middleditch

thanks again for the help. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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Hope you find my guides helpful.

About neighborhoods:

The more residential Salamanca and Retiro neighborhoods (NYE's Upper East Side), as danon says, are much classier, upscale, prettier, less noisy, less heavily tourist-trodden than the Puerta del Sol/Gran Via axis. (plus very safe)

I do love these neighborhoods as they have a more residential feel and are quiet. But you will spend more time walking and on the metro.

Our favorite moderately-priced hotel in Salamanca is the Hesperia Hermosilla, in shoppers' heaven.

I also love the Retiro area where Love2Plan's Friendly Rentals El Prado apartment is located. Very classy address, if you're interested in a rental.

The Prado area (Hotels Villa Real, Gran Canarias, Room Mate Alicia, Catalonia Las Cortes, Lope de Vega, Suite Prado) is extremely convenient for doing the museum triangle by foot and the evening tapas stroll by foot.
This area of Old Madrid is called Barrio de las Letras.
Busy and very popular with first timers.

The Royal Opera House/Royal Palace area is also attractive (Hotels Opera, Meninas, Room Mate Mario) for a first time visitor but not as handily walkable to the major art museums.

Have fun deciding. Do you have a price range?
Maribel is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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Maribel, thanks for the helpful breakdown of the neighborhoods. Your guides are incredible. I can't wait to read through all the various regions. I started by looking at your Basque area and then had the realization that it would be better to fly in and out of Madrid rather than Paris to visit the Basque area of France. That opened up a whole new world for me, one that left me quite befuddled. As to the budget, I am trying to be as economical as possible while catering to my husbands 1st question, Is it a safe neighborhood??

Ron and I have different attitudes about large cities, I take them, he leaves them.

I love New York and Paris but I'm the person who loves to stay just off Times Square and in the Latin Quarter while Ron votes for the quieter residential areas. Major cities give us lots of opportunites to practice the art of compromise

I would hope to find a hotel or apartment for less than 150 euros per night. I am leaning toward the apartment because I am trying to wrap my thoughts around dinners in Madrid not starting until after 10 pm. Like I said, a whole new world!!!Thank you for any suggestions. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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I stayed in a hotel I just loved in-between the Opera nad Puerta del Sol, which was very convenient -- Palacio San Martin. Noise wasn't any issue, it was very quiet, but that was due to the design of the hotel, I suppose. I had the windows closed, anyway, as it wasn't hot when I was there. It wasn't particularly noisy right at that hotel, anyway, though. It didn't matter to me that I wasn't within walking distance of the museums, not at all, I just like being near good restaurants and other shops, things to do, and near a metro stop, which it was.

Spaniards may dine late, but there isn't any reason you have to wait until after 10 pm to eat dinner. I never did. I don't eat super-early, around 8:30-9, but never had any problem ordering in a restaurant at 8 pm or later. They are open.
Christina is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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thanks for the information Christina, I had read several places that stated that typical dinner hours would be later in Madrid than elsewhere. We've never had a problem in Europe but I received the impressions the dinner hours in Madrid were unique to that city Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 01:46 PM
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Hi Deborah,
Ay, yes. I do understand that art of compromise!

Christina's Hotel Intur Palacio de San Martín is reviewed in my guide as well. It offers good value.

The first week of June in Madrid will still be high season for hotels, but all offer weekend price breaks, if part of your stay is on June 6-7.

In the restaurant section, I have a list of my tried and true reliable dining spots that open at 8 or 8:30.
That list exists because not all Madrid restaurants do open that early.

And you can always dine in the evening on tapas, starting at around 8 when the bars won't be at all crowded, practically empty, in fact!

The locals tend to do tapas later, starting between 9-9:30 and going until 11 (or later on weekends) but most bars do start opening around 8. And some do have tables for a sit-down tapas meal. In all of these below you can go early, grab a table for two and enjoy a small plates meal. Located in the Cava Baja-Almendro-Cava Alta area:

Our 3 current favorites:
Casa Lucas

Taberna de los 100 vinos
El Tempranillo
La Musa Latina
Corazón Loco
Juana la Loca
El Almendro 13
Nunc est Bibendum

If you decide on the Retiro apartment, I'll post some tapas places within walking distance of Calle Valenzuela that we like.

Have fun planning!
Maribel is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 02:34 PM
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thank you again, Maribel. I did use several of the sites on your Site to search for hotels/apartments. The info provided in this thread will certainly help.

Our stay in Madrid is May 31-June 5th, so we won't be able to take advantage of any weekend bargains, unfortunately. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 11:00 AM
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Speaking of apartments, the Madrid co. "Spain Select" was chosen by Travel & Leisure as the best villa/apartment rental agency in Spain. I need to add them to my guide.

A quick glance pulled up 2 apartments in Old Madrid for $120-140 a day with a 4 night minimum,
the Plaza de la Paja III and Almendro I have very nice locations in Old Madrid.

Just another source for you, although the El Prado apartment on Friendly Rentals has the quietest and most beautiful, exclusive location.
Maribel is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 11:57 AM
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We used Spain-Select in Madrid.
Most of their apt. are monthly rentals, so the selection for a shorter stay is very limited The one we stayed in (Calle Mayor) was in a very good location but, it was a bit tired looking.
When I wrote to them after our visit with some comments, they were extremely apologetic and even offer a compensation.

loved the food at Casa Lucas !
danon is online now  
Jan 12th, 2008, 12:49 PM
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Thank you I have wandering throughout Madrid with the help of Maribels site and the Fodor's Spain book and the comments here. I have seen so many apartments that appeal to me.

After a discussion with my husband we are going stay at Hotel Plaza Mayor. Ron is more comfortable staying in a hotel as a first time visitor and the favorable price per night is a bonus.

Thank you so much for all your help. I know I will have many more questions before I am comfortable with my Spain travel plans. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 12:49 PM
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Glad you liked Casa Lucas; it's our favorite.

Yes, most of those Spain Select Madrid apartments can be rented on a monthly basis only.

Forgot to mention a great lunch deal at La Camarilla across the street on Cava Baja, also has a full dining room.
Maribel is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 01:52 PM
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I did not remember much from my first (short) visit to Madrid more than 25 years ago.
Although it went very well, I wish I had ask more questions for our stay in Oct. 2007( rental properties, barrios etc.)
Next time !
danon is online now  

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