The all-white lobby, with curving walls, backlit ceiling panels, and gilded columns, may have looked trendy ten years ago, when the hotel opened, but today it verges on tacky. Good thing, then, that Room Mate Alicia's prime location and competitive rates continue to make it a worthwhile contender. Carpeted rooms, though not large, are modern in aesthetic; the black-slate bathrooms, most of them shower only, are separated only by a glass door. For a few more euros, you can upgrade to an executive room with a terrace or to a minisuite with large windows overlooking the action on the plaza.
The compact yet comfortable rooms are awash with bright colors, from the wallpaper to the pillows to the light fixtures. The best of the bunch look out onto the Plaza de Santa Ana, though light sleepers may wish to opt for an interior-facing “single” or “double basic.” Suites offer terrific value, particularly the duplex suite with an outdoor splash pool.
YOU SHOULD KNOW A handful of guests have reported malfunctioning heat and A/C units. Test as soon as you enter the room to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
In-bedroom baths, showers, and sinks are romantic for couples but largely uncomfortable for everyone else. The toilets—thank heavens—are concealed.
Cushy sofas and plate-glass windows facing the plaza make for pleasant people-watching.
Select pieces of contemporary art in the lobby are available for purchase.
The hotel outsources its breakfast service to Miss Sushi restaurant, located adjacent to the hotel. The buffet is varied and satisfying and served until a civilized 12 p.m.
Though most of Madrid’s main attractions are located within walking distance, Antón Martín (Line 1) and Sevilla (Line 2) metro stations are five minutes from the hotel.
The old-school Antón Martín Market, located six minutes from the hotel on foot, is a great place to nibble on a tapa or two, surrounded by the bustling food stalls brimming with meats and produce. Continue your crawl down Calle Huertas, a pedestrian-only street lined with restaurants and bars, making a pitstop for the ropa vieja (spicy stewed beef) and cubano sandwiches at La Colonial (6-minute walk), Madrid’s best Cuban restaurant.
Pop into one of Hemingway’s old haunts called La Venencia, a sherry-only bar that hasn’t changed a lick since the Spanish Civil War, from its no-tipping policy, to its salty waiters, to its chalked bar tabs. Follow your aperitivo with an exhilarating flamenco performance down the road at Cardamomo Tablao (buy tickets to the show in advance).
WHY WE LIKE IT
If you're an art lover on a budget, Room Mate Alicia offers great bang for your buck. Its proximity to Madrid's "Golden Triangle" of museums and key historic sites, such as the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol, mean you won't waste time sitting on the metro or hailing taxis. Varied rooms appeal to all types of travelers: Families will feel at home in the duplex suite, and revelers will find no shortage of hopping nightlife venues.