where to stay in Madrid?

Old Jul 14th, 2008, 05:26 AM
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where to stay in Madrid?

My wife and I will be in Madrid in late Feb/March. Weird timing I know, but it is what it is. I just hope its warm enough for walks and cafe sitting.

Anyhow, I am trolling the Web for ideas of where to stay. Cover article had good descriptions of some of the areas we have read about....Plaza Mayor, La Latina. Barrio DL Tetras/Santa Ana. Then a little further afield, Rastro, Cheuca and Malasana.

We are tourists, yes. But I dont want to necessarily be around a bunch of tourists. We are not museum/palace types. Seeing them from the outside is enough....we just like long walks, architecture and cafe sitting.

Paris favs would be St Germaine (can be quite touristy, I know) just for literary/cafe history, Marais and Montmartre for neighborhood feel..if that helps.

I realize old Madrid is fairly compact....so maybe I am overthinking it, but I dont want to stay somewhere with a view of a McDonalds (Sol), tourist traps (Mayor)...or majorly bustling streets (Gran Via)...just a nice ideally old world/town feel...but in an area where locals might actually frequent the tapas, etc.

Is that Santa Ana? Lavapides? Any advice is appreciated....

Cheers,
Brendan
Charlotte, USA
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 05:46 AM
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I really haven't got an answer for you because I almost always stay in a mostly modern area of Madrid. But I thought you might like to have this link:

http://www.gomadrid.com/maps/tourist-map.html
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 05:58 AM
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Look around Malasaña, Huertas, Atocha and Lavapies.
Latina and Rastro are side-by-side.
I wouldn't say "further afield" these areas are pretty much smack in the centre.

Atocha apartment:
http://www.waytostay.com/Madrid-apar...n-214-2384.htm

This is a short walk from El rastro
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 05:59 AM
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Santa Ana area is jammed with bars and people (the locals and many tourists),it is buzzing at all hours.
I would rather stay a bit further like Serrano or Retiro( if you have a budget for it!) and walk to other areas.
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 06:14 AM
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Hi Brendan,

"we just like long walks, architecture and cafe sitting"

Those types of activities might be difficult during your month of travel due to the possibilities of rain/cold.

You might get lucky as Spain's weather is becoming hotter and drier.

As far as location, I would stay near the Plaza Mayor. Yes it is extraordinarily touristy but I like being around a lot of people and having good time. The Marais and Montemartre are difficult to duplicate in any city. I am sure the others can help.

You said you don't care for museums/palaces. Madrid might change your mind. Not to mention the cuisine. Fabulous.
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 06:56 AM
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I do like museums when I have the time…but this is whirlwind trip. I think my wife is more interested in taking the time away form our kids to have some drinks than tour the Prado. Maybe we’re just low class…LOL

I am realistic about the weather. Good point. Thanks!


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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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I don't think you are overthinking this, but you are certainly misguided or misinterpreting a lot of the info you are reading. To the point:

--Plaza Mayor is not surrounded by trourist traps. It is frequented by locals just as much as tourists. The bars/cafes around the Plaza are one of the most typical views/activities in Madrid.

-- there are no views of McDonald's from Puerta del Sol. It is one of the busiest pedestrianized areas in Madrid and all that comes along. You do get a view of La Mallorquina, the oldest pastry shop in Madrid and Chocolateria Gines, the best chocolate with churros, though....

-- Locals frequent tapas bars all over Madrid; the ones near the Theater Lope de Vega are my favorites; the tourists have never taken anything away from the ambience.

-- You are not wrong about Gran Via; bustling shopping district.

-- If your type of sightseeing is cafe sitting, long walks and architecture, you may need to recalibrate your expectations about Madrid in Feb. That said, wish you best of luck with weather. Great public parks in Madrid.
-- beware of area near Atocha; getting quite seedy. Definitely stay away from Calle de la Montera. The Chueca District is a bit seedy as well. Stay near Parque del Retiro; the northern side.

How long are you staying? If only 2-3 days, then stay coveniently centric....
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 09:44 AM
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You do get a view of La Mallorquina, the oldest pastry shop in Madrid and Chocolateria Gines, the best chocolate with churros, though....

Adding this to my list of "things to do" with my 3 days in Madrid next month!!
 
Old Jul 14th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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p.s.
Central Madrid is not like central Paris;I like it but, with the exception of Salamanca and Serrano (and near the Opera), it is much more rough around the edges.
I am not sure if the seeing museums and the Palace just from the outside would give you the just picture.
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 10:31 AM
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I think Plaza Mayor is surrounded by tourist traps. I think it is mainly surrounded -- or I should say occupied -- by tourist traps. They certainly strike one as kind of tacky blight.

It seems to me I saw much more elegant places to while away the time.

I've never been to Madrid in February. I would expect it to be damn cold, but I can't imagine the locals giving up their drinking and lounging habits! Surely they just move them indoors! (It may also be that, like Milano, a lot of cafes have outdoor heaters.)

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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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Brendan, how old are you and the wife? I know that I wouldn´t recommend Chueca or Malasaña to older people.

I would look into staying at the Roommate Alicia, in Plaza Santa Ana. Plenty of bars around (this year we could sit outside almost the whole winter), and easy to walk everywhere.

I am not a big fan of Plaza Mayor, and I usually just pass through it. It might be typical, but nevertheless many of the places are tourist traps. They know that the customers ( national and foreigners ) won´t be coming back, so they don´t specially mind the service.

Bye, Cova
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 10:38 AM
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I stayed at a hotel 1 block from Plaza Mayor (Hotel Plaza Mayor). I wouldn't call it the equivalent of St Germain, but it was a convenient location and I liked the hotel a lot. Plaza Mayor is actually just a few minutes' walk from Cava Baja, which has plenty of tapas bars and restaurants (NOT tourist traps).

I bought pastries from La Mallorquina (at Puerta del Sol)_ 2 nights in a row. I can tell you that the shop is full of locals.

I was in Spain/Madrid in February 2008. It was cold but not bad at all. I wouldn't say it's warm enough to sit outside, but definitely okay to walk outside!
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 02:45 PM
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Hey Brendan -- I totally get the "get away from the kids and have some drinks" kind of trip. When we go (and we are in September) we stay in Las Letras/Santa Ana. I would say that area is more like the Marais (you could probably say Chueca is too, but I prefer Santa Ana for it's proximity to so much of what we like to visit -- yes, there are tourists there, but it's not overwhelming.) Salamanca neighborhood is also a nice choice - more upscale, yet neighborhoody, not touristy. Good hotel choices in each area for every budget can be found in Maribel's Madrid guide at www.maribelsguides.com. (Maribel is an amazing and frequent contributor to this board.) Read the section on bars and nightlife and on hotels -- I would think the insight she gives into particular areas will be very helpful.
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Contrary to others' worries, March can be a fabulous time to visit Madrid...cool evenings but sunny with daytime temps in the (low) 70s. Hope you hit it right!
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Old Jul 14th, 2008, 04:13 PM
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thanks for all the great info. fyi,we are mid to late 30's. so noise won't be an issue as we plan to be out as late/early as local scene (and our aging bodies) allow. plus if folks siesta (ie things close 2-5 or so), I will take full advantage.

weather is fickle, clearly.but from what I have read, daytime highs in mid to upper 50's, lows in low to mid 40's in late Feb/early March. I'll take that all day......no rain would be nice,too.

then we head south to Sevilla which I am guessing is warmer.

thanks,all!
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Old Jul 15th, 2008, 06:18 AM
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My husband and I went to Madrid and Sevilla last May and absolutely loved it! We stayed at the Hotel Gran Canarias and loved the location, it is across the street from the Prado and the Ritz Carlton, and the Westin is right next door. The prices are much more reasonable than its neighbors and you are a 10 minute walk from the Parque Buen Retiro and a 5 minute walk from the Plaza Santa Ana/Bario de las letras area for bars,tapas and nightlife. I also liked the fact that it had easy street access for taxis (which we only used to get to/from the airport) so we weren't walking down the pedestrian only streets with all of our luggage. The hotel is also within walking distance(15 minutes) of Atocha.

In Sevilla we stayed at Hotel Alminar which has a great location near the Giralda making it easier to find after a day of walking through the maze that is the Bario de Santacruz. The staff is second to none when it comes to recommending tapas bars, the best places to catch flamenco and booking our time at the arab baths.
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Old Jul 15th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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The Gran Canarias no longer exists.

Back at the beginning of the year Maribel mentioned that it was being closed down, and I walked by and saw that it had been bought by the NH chain. It is now the NH Paseo del Prado, and it is much more expensive than before. I think that both Maribel and Robert have checked it out and it is no longer such a good value.

Brendan, I think your best bet is to get a hotel in the Santa Ana area ( I don´t think that the ME will be running the same offers as they have for August, but it would be gorgeous). From there you can walk everywhere.

I like much more the shopping around Chueca, Fuencarral, Hortaleza and all the chic places in Almirante. Specially Almirante has a tiny bit of the Marais feeling you were looking for. I know you are not interested in museums, but there are some good art galleries in the area.

And regarding the weather, you never know. This year it was mild, two years ago it was snowing and freezing ...

Bye, Cova
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Old Jul 15th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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Cova, what is the "ME" to which you refer (we WILL be in Madrid in August).
 
Old Jul 15th, 2008, 10:00 AM
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My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Roommate Alicia that was mentioned by cova. Really enjoyed our stay there. I picked that neighborhood because the previous summer I had stayed in the Salamanca neighborhood, which was very very quiet on the weekend, and had enjoyed evenings in the Plaza Santa Ana, which was much livelier. The Roommate Alicia overlooks the plaza and is within easy walking distance of many, many bars, tapas places, restaurants, cafes. http://www.room-matehotels.com/eng/m...liciahotel.php
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Old Jul 15th, 2008, 10:08 AM
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the "ME" is part of the Sol Melia group.
http://www.solmelia.com/solNew/hotel...digoHotel=2822
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