A metropolitan outpost of the Blue Sea resort chain, Urban Sea Atocha 113 is a no-frills 36-room hotel just north of the eponymous railway station. Interiors are clean, compact, and cozy, and there’s a rooftop terrace with gorgeous views—a rarity at this price point. Surrounded by minimalist, all-white décor, it’s easy to forget you’re in a charming turn-of-the-century building—though the hotel’s creaky spiral staircase is a pleasant reminder.
Tourists flock to the nearby bar El Brillante for its fried calamari sandwiches, which are underwhelming and overpriced. For a superior bocadillo, try La Ideal on the Plaza Mayor.
It’s true, some singles feel more like urban pods than hotel rooms, but the white walls and bedspreads make even the smallest digs tolerable for most travelers. Interiors would be spartan were it not for the textured headboards and parquet floors, which lend just the right amount of warmth.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Though windows are double-glazed, you can still hear the street noise if you’re in an exterior room. Pack some ear plugs or opt for an interior-facing room if you’re a light sleeper.
Don’t bump your head on the sink getting out of bed! In many rooms, that’s how close the bathroom is to the sleeping quarters. But if you don’t mind a tight squeeze and the open format, Urban Sea’s squeaky-clean modern bathrooms have all your bases covered, hairdryer included.
Though the lobby in itself is nothing to write home about, the complimentary 24-hour refreshment bar—with coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies—is a homey touch.
There’s no breakfast or dining offered at Urban Sea, but a number of good, budget-friendly restaurants can be found just outside your door.
There’s no better home base for travelers with train tickets as Atocha railway station is steps from the hotel. There you can catch the metro (line 1), cercanías (commuter rail), and RENFE and AVE (long-haul) trains.
Bring your appetite if you book a table at Rincón Asturiano II (12-minute walk), a homey tavern with a local crowd specializing in soul-satisfying dishes from Asturias, the mountainous seaside region in the north of Spain famous for its steaks, stews, and seafood. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, look no further than Vinoteca Moratín (4-minute walk), a pocket-sized, chef-run restaurant featuring imaginative tapas and hard-to-find wines.
Lavapiés, the neighborhood located just west of the hotel, has replaced Malasaña as Madrid’s alternative epicenter, and there’s no better spot for people-watching on the weekends. Snag a table on one of the terrazas lining Calle Argumosa—La Buga del Lobo (8-minute walk) or Achuri (7-minute walk) are solid choices—and if 80s music is your jam, rock out with a few beers at La 80 (9-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
This is our kind of budget hotel: clean, smart, and centrally located. Single rooms are ideal for young solo travelers, while the more spacious Double and Superior Double rooms are a steal for those who value a bit more space. Steps from Retiro Park and Madrid’s Golden Triangle of museums (Prado, Thyssen, and Reina Sofía), Urban Sea is also extremely convenient for sightseeing.