In the city center, steps from the Royal Palace and Teatro Real, Mario is small and limited in services but features bold, quirky style at a good price. A welcome alternative to Madrid's traditional hotel options, original silk-print headboards highlight the color-scheme combinations of white, gray, and black tones. There's no restaurant or bar, but the breakfast buffet is ample and well-prepared.
Rather cramped, even by city standards, the rooms at Room Mate Mario make up for their small size with ultra-comfortable mattresses and attention-grabbing designer headboards. If you can pony up the cash for an upgrade, the "Executive" rooms and suites are spacious and inviting.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Pack your earplugs, just in case: The hotel's central location and relatively thin walls are an unfortunate combination.
In-room bathrooms, concealed only by frosted glass panels, may be visually appealing but offer little privacy. Complimentary conditioner and fluffy towels help make up for the awkward design.
Certain rooms have larger, more secluded bathrooms; if privacy is an important criterion, call ahead to ensure you're booked accordingly.
Though the lobby could pass as an early-aughties discoteca entrance, with its pleather poufs and red back-lighting, the front-desk staff are consummate professionals, always eager to provide recommendations.
Breakfast, served until a civilized 12 p.m., has your bases covered with warm rolls, croissants, and fresh fruit.
Most of Madrid's top sites are steps from the hotel, but for adventures farther afield, you can catch the Line 2 metro at Ópera station.
Room Mate Mario is dangerously close to Madrid’s most fabled churro spot, San Ginés (6-minute walk), a 24-hour café where towering platters of crisp-fried doughnuts are served piping hot by white-clad waiters. Churros con chocolate are the perfect way to end a tapas crawl on and around Cava Baja (11-minute walk), the city’s most archetypal—if slightly touristy—tapas street where you’ll find stalwart old-school restaurants like Casa Lucio, Casa Lucas, and Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world founded in 1725.
A three-minute walk from the hotel, La Coquette, Madrid’s premier blues bar, offers a terrific—and free—nightly show from Tuesdays to Thursdays in an arcaded brick cellar. Although the venue’s size might be likened to a sardine can, the upside is that every seat is front-row— it’s always a thrill to watch the talented musicians jam out right in front of you. When the show winds down, keep the night going at El Amante (4-minute walk), a nearby discoteca frequented by Spanish celebrities.
WHY WE LIKE IT
First-time Madrid visitors will appreciate Room Mate Mario's proximity to the Plaza Mayor, Royal Palace, and Sabatini Gardens, three unmissable attractions. And though the digs may be pocket-sized, the central location means you'll be out and about most of the time anyhow.