Best Places to Stay in Madrid, Spain by Areas & Hotels
If you’re heading to Madrid Spain, you’re probably thinking of Where to Stay in Madrid. I will give you an insight into the best area to stay in Madrid in this article. Read on as I show you the best of Madrid.
If you are looking for a city break that offers both the convenience and luxury of a modern metropolis, as well as the culture and architectural beauty of a city founded in the 9th century, the Spanish capital, Madrid, should definitely be a contender.
The second largest city in the European Union, home to the Royal Palace, the Royal Theatre, world famous football club Real Madrid, and the headquarters of the UN World Tourism Organisation, Madrid truly has something for everyone and in this article, we will break down where to stay in order to get the most out of your trip.
Tips For Choosing The Best Place To Stay In Madrid
Being such a sprawling city, it may seem intimidating trying to narrow down the best area in which to stay, so the goal of this article is to aid you in deciding where best suits your personal requirements.
Madrid is divided into 21 districts and we have selected the 10 of them that we feel have the most to offer visitors. In order to decide where is best for you personally, you need to consider what you most want to get from your time in Madrid.
Are you planning a whirlwind weekend getaway, or a longer, more relaxed break?
Are you a culture vulture, looking to wander the museums and galleries and soak in the historical architecture? Or are you more interested in browsing the world class shopping districts and cafes?
Have you settled on a budget for accommodation? Will you be exploring the city by car, public transport, or foot?
Once you know exactly what you are looking for, it will be much easier to determine exactly where you want to stay.
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Where to Stay in Madrid – 10 Best Areas to Stay in Madrid
So, Where is the best area to stay in Madrid? In this section, we’ll help you to explore the 10 best areas to stay in Madrid are: Sol-Gran Vía, Salamanca, Huertas, Malasana, Los Austrias, La Latina, Chueca, Lavapies, Retiro, Argüelles and Moncloa.
Each of the districts we have spotlighted in this article have their own unique character and appeal, so we’ve summarised what makes each area attractive for the different needs and preferences people may have.
Where to Stay in Madrid Map
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1. Sol-Gran Vía (Puerta del Sol & Gran Vía)
Like many travellers, we have started our exploration of Madrid in Sol-Gran Via, arguably the tourism epicentre of the city. The square of Puerta del Sol houses the kilometre zero plaque, marking the geographical centre of Spain and, with its open space and multiple statues of notable historical figures, serves as a convenient meeting spot.
The winding streets connecting Puerta del Sol to the avenue of Gran Via provide a charming shopping experience with both department stores and smaller shops offering wares to suit all tastes, from clothes, jewellery, and art, to toys, music, and football paraphernalia.
The area is also home to the oldest cake shop in Spain, Antigua Pastelería del Pozo, established in 1830 and still retaining some of its original furniture, along with a number of traditional restaurants and cafes, making it a prime location for anyone looking to sample truly authentic local cuisine.
If that isn’t enough Spanish culture for you, the local nightlife boasts not only a slew of the city’s top clubs and music venues, but also several Flamenco houses.
Gran Via itself is one of the major roads of central Madrid, but recent development has made the area more pedestrian friendly. Home to some of the city’s first skyscrapers, it is an excellent exhibition of Madrid’s architectural development, but if that doesn’t interest you, it also boasts a selection of museums, theatres, and the Casino de Madrid.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN SOL-GRAN VIA IF:
- You are planning a quick trip and need a central location
- You want a convenient mix of culture and shopping
- You want to try traditional local food
- You value nightlife
- You prefer to travel by foot
Designed in the late 19th century as a playground for the wealthy aristocracy, Barrio de Salamanca remains one of the most luxurious areas of Madrid.
Packed with high-end fashion houses and boutiques, this district is perfect for anyone who lists shopping high on their itinerary. In fact, even those who don’t will be able to appreciate the beautifully designed shopfronts and architecture of the area.
The area also boasts a number of museums, art galleries, and exhibition halls, including the National Archaeological Museum and the newer Robot Museum, which exhibits the largest collection of robotic dogs in Europe.
If all that shopping and wandering museums makes you hungry, there’s also six Michelin starred restaurants in the area to choose from, along with a plethora of other fine dining establishments and cafes, offering an array of cuisines, from authentic local delicacies to Japanese-fusion.
The nightlife of the area maintains the exclusivity and sophistication it was designed for, with the city’s top mixologists serving cocktails from some of the most prestigious clubs and bars, catering to the wealthy socialites and company executives from the nearby business districts.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN SALAMANCA IF:
- You seek the finer things in life
- You prioritise art and culture
- You enjoy high-end shopping
- Money isn’t a concern
Also known as Barrio de las Letras, which translates as ‘the literary quarter’, Huertas is a hub of history, art, and culture. Once home to the legendary Spanish writer, Cervantes, the area is a celebration of literature and theatrical arts, with the Plaza de Santa Ana displaying statues of some of Spain’s most celebrated playwrights and poets, while the Calle Huertas pavement is engraved with quotes from famous Spanish literary works.
It’s here you’ll also find the Teatro Español, one of the principal theatres of Madrid and a key stop for anyone wanting to experience the highest quality Spanish theatre.
In addition to being the district in which Cervantes lived, his final resting place can be found in the nearby Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, along with several other notable, if less famous, names.
Bookshops, interior design stores, and antique emporiums make up the shopping district of this area, and if you can’t make it to the interior decoration festival, which sees the local shops set out sprawling street markets, don’t fear, as the first Saturday of every month hosts the Ranas Street market, which boasts live street performances and special offers from the participating vendors.
You may think that an area dedicated to literature wouldn’t have much of a lively nightlife, in which case you will be pleasantly surprised by the varied entertainment on offer after sundown. True to its roots as a centre of the arts, a variety of live performances can be observed, from music to dancing, and the clubs and bars cater for both those who seek a lively night of dancing, as well as those who prefer a calmer evening of cocktails and conversation.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN HUERTAS IF:
- You love culture and history
- You love literature
- You enjoy life performances
To experience a more alternative Madrid, you may want to consider Malasana, home to the Movida arts movement of the ‘80s and still retaining much of its rebellious character.
The nightlife here is distinct and varied, with an ever-changing calendar of public events set amongst the permanent array of niche clubs and bars with a penchant for the risqué. Here you’ll find adult-only shops, rock bars, and venues for just about every musical preference, with parties commonly spilling out onto the streets.
If you are less inclined to party, it may still be worth visiting in the daytime, to wander the nearby History Museum or appreciate the 17th century churches that sit nestled amongst the bars.
Local shops offer almost everything you could be looking for but are of particular interest to anyone looking for vintage goods and clothing, or fans of comics, with several comic book stores within walking distance of one another.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN MALASANA IF:
- You value nightlife
- You are not bothered by rowdy revellers
- You want to experience Madrid’s alternative culture
5. Los Austrias
Los Austrias is the place to stay for those looking to truly experience the history of Madrid. One of the oldest areas of the city, with buildings dating back as far as the 15th century.
It is here you will find the sprawling Royal Palace, an estate so large that the public walking tours can’t cover all of its rooms in a single tour, and the Descalzas Reales Monastery, a nunnery that houses a collection of 17th century art open for public viewing.
On Sundays the Painters’ Market comes to the Plaza del Conde de Barajas, exhibiting the works of 40 local independent artists.
The nightlife here is similarly cultured, built around the local opera houses, theatres, and flamenco houses. Bars offer live music for fans of jazz and blues, as well as cocktails and dining for those looking to chat about the performances they have just witnessed.
The area around Plaza Maya is the perfect place to browse some of the oldest shops in the city and pick-up traditional souvenirs, such as old coins, traditional shoes and local delicacies.
Once you are tired of shopping and sightseeing, head to the San Miguel Market, a food hall of over 30 stalls, featuring flavours from every part of Spain, combined with live entertainment, this is the perfect spot to unwind and recharge.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN LOS AUSTRIAS IF:
- You love history
- You love art and culture
- You are looking for more relaxed nightlife
- You want a neighbourhood with a romantic ambience
6. La Latina
The historical district of La Latina originated as the merchant hub of medieval Madrid and those roots shine through to this day, with the city’s largest flea market, El Rostro, acting as the area’s main tourist draw and street markets taking over the winding roads every Sunday morning.
Aside from its sprawling markets, the La Latina area is famous as the primary tapas hotspot in Madrid, drawing crowds of tourists and locals alike to sample the breadth of Spanish cuisine on offer here, including a number of interesting items you probably won’t have seen on the menu at your local tapas bar.
If you need a break from shopping and eating, there are a number of museums and historical churches in the area, including the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, a beautiful, domed building, which showcases a collection of artworks from the 18th century. Or how about a scenic walk in some of the manicured gardens, set higher up the hills and offering gorgeous views over Madrid.
The nightlife of the area keeps up with the lively standard of the city, offering a host of clubs, bars, and taverns to keep you entertained late into the night.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN LA LATINA IF:
- You enjoy shopping at markets
- You love good food and lots of it
- You are interested in antiques and vintage items
Immediately north of Gran Via is the district of Chueca, popularly known as Madrid’s premier gay neighbourhood, where you will find all of the best Pride parties when the festivities roll around in midsummer.
As you would expect from an area famous for its LGBTQ community, the nightlife is a major draw for this area. The streets are lined with clubs and cocktail bars, transforming into a vibrant hub of entertainment after sundown. Don’t worry if that’s not your thing though, there is still plenty to see here in the daytime as well.
The San Anton Food Market is located here, with a wide array of vendors offering samples to those browsing the stalls and if you take the ingredients you buy here to the La Cocina de San Antón restaurant two floors above the market their chefs will cook it for you, so you can enjoy it as fresh as possible, whilst taking in the views from their rooftop terrace.
If your trip to Madrid needs some romantic flair, the Museum of Romanticism is housed in the former palace of the Marquis of Matallana, or for a more alternative date idea, the bones of Saint Valentine rest in the San Anton church and are available for viewing by the public.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN CHUECA IF:
- You are there for the Pride festivities
- You seek LGBTQ friendly accommodation and entertainment
- You want a truly personalised dining experience
- You seek a vibrant nightlife
Lavapies has stayed true to its multicultural origins throughout the centuries and the melting pot of cultures that formed this working district have left their mark on the art and atmosphere of the area.
A hub of visual and dramatic art, the selection of exhibition centres and theatres includes the Teatro Valle-Inclán, one of the base theatres of the National Drama Centre, and the La Casa Encendida cultural centre, which offers a wide variety of exhibitions, performances, art installations, and workshops.
The Spanish Film Archive is also located here, a must visit for anyone interested in the development of Spanish cinema.
Thanks to its multicultural population, the dining options available in Lavapies are varied enough that even the pickiest eaters will find something they love, with restaurants offering food from across the world.
The Tapapiés festival takes full advantage of this smorgasbord of cultural cuisines, exhibiting live performances, catered by vendors blending their country’s traditional foods with the Spanish tradition of tapas.
It’s not just the food of these cultures that is celebrated in Lavapies however, as the thriving immigrant community brings the vibrant festivals of their home countries with them.
Most notably, the Indian celebration of Holi takes over the streets at the beginning of spring, filling them with colour and ushering in the season. It is an event not to be missed if you have the opportunity to participate in the festivities.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN LAVAPIES IF:
- You are passionate about art
- You want to try food from a variety of cultures
- You want to take part in cultural performances and festivals
The primary feature of the Retiro district is El Retiro Park, a sprawling 125-hectare estate, boasting two palaces that have been converted into exhibition centres, a large artificial lake with the option to hire a rowboat and spend an afternoon on the water, and a number of statues, art installations and fountains, dotted around the area.
For families with young children, the Teatro de Títeres is a puppet theatre that performs shows every weekend, to keep little ones entertained in between trips to the various playgrounds.
Such a large open space makes an ideal venue for festivals, which includes the annual book fair, held early each summer, that sees publishing houses from across Spain gather to display their titles.
Don’t despair if you can’t make it for the fair though, as the Cuesta de Moyano book market is situated nearby, with over 30 permanent stalls forming an open-air bookshop, selling books both new and secondhand.
Retiro is the perfect area to relax and unwind, with the many cafes surrounding the park offering the opportunity to sip a drink on the terrace and bask in the Spanish weather.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN RETIRO IF:
- You like being out in the open air
- You are looking for romantic date ideas
- You have young children
- You prioritise relaxing over sightseeing and shopping
10. Argüelles and Moncloa
One of the more residential areas of central Madrid, Arguelles and Moncloa offers some unexpected tourist attractions, most notably the temple of Debod, an ancient Egyptian temple gifted to Spain and transported to Madrid in 1968. It stands as the centrepiece of a reflection pool in the Parque del Oeste and offers a stunning place to observe the sunset.
The district is nearby a number of prominent universities, so is popular with students. Unsurprisingly, the area heavily caters to that demographic, with an array of cafes and bars, bookshops and bakeries, and, of course, a selection of clubs, pubs, and bars to keep you entertained into the evening.
Being somewhat less of a tourist hotspot, yet still in the centre of the city and within easy commute of some of the most popular attractions, Arguelles and Moncloa may be the ideal area to look for accommodation if you are on a budget but still want to stay in the heart of the city.
YOU SHOULD STAY IN ARGÜELLES & MONCLOA IF:
- You prefer a quieter break
- You want a taste of everyday life in Madrid
- You want to stay in the city centre on a budget
- Where To Stay In Madrid With Family
- Where To Stay in Madrid On A Budget
- Where To Stay in Madrid For The First Time
- Where To Stay In Madrid For One Night
- Where To Stay In Madrid For Three Days
- Where To Stay In Madrid For Nightlife
- Where To Stay In Madrid As A Tourist
- Where To Stay In Madrid For New Years
- Where To Stay In Madrid Near The Train Station
- Where To Stay In Madrid For Christmas
- Where To Stay In Madrid For Your Honeymoon
- Where To Stay In Madrid For Shopping
- Where To Stay in Madrid For Gay People
- Where To Stay in Madrid With A Car
Where To Stay In Madrid With Family
For families with young children, the area around El Retiro park offers easy access to large, open spaces, where they can run off some of their energy, take a rowboat out onto the large, artificial lake, or visit the puppet theatre, which holds performances over the weekend to keep them enthralled for an afternoon.
Older kids can appreciate the statues and art installations that are dotted around this 125-hectare park, and two beautiful palaces on the grounds have been converted into exhibition halls to keep everyone entertained.
Where To Stay in Madrid On A Budget
A little out of the main action but still in the centre of the city, Arguelles and Moncloa is probably your best bet for finding affordable, high quality accommodation in central Madrid.
Quieter and more residential than the nearby tourist hubs, it is nonetheless within easy reach of many of the primary attractions and isn’t without its own appeal. With an Egyptian temple to explore and a lively social scene and nightlife due to being a popular home for the city’s student population, you are almost certain to find something to keep you entertained day and night.
Where To Stay in Madrid For The First Time
First timers to Madrid will likely want somewhere conveniently placed, in the middle of the top tourist attractions and within easy reach of major transport links, which make Sol-Gran Via the ideal spot.
The area offers a blend of modern convenience and historical charm, to ease the new visitor into the city. Situated in the midst of major tourist districts such as La Latina, Retiro, and Chueca, you’ll be able to easily find your way to the most iconic attractions Madrid has on offer, without having to worry about navigating local public transport.
Where To Stay In Madrid For One Night
With such a limited timeframe, this really depends on what your individual tastes are, but if you’ve only got one night to soak in the history, tradition, and culture of a historic city like Madrid, Los Austrias is an ideal location.
Beautiful, full of history, with a wide variety of traditional souvenirs around every corner and plentiful opportunities to experience Madrid’s cultural heritage, Los Austrias is the perfect area to spend your one evening in the city.
Where To Stay In Madrid For Three Days
For shorter trips, Sol-Gran Via is the perfect place to stay. Centrally located, within easy walking distance of a number of popular tourist attractions, it offers a plentiful array of things to do in the immediate area and has easy access to surrounding tourist hubs.
With a solid mix of history and modern attractions, Sol-Gran Via allows you to get a taste of the best parts of Madrid, without having to spend too much time travelling around.
Where To Stay In Madrid For Nightlife
If you’re looking for nightlife that offers something a little different, Malasana is the place for you, with a variety of genre specific music bars, risqué clubs and frequent street parties, it’s an area for the more adventurous party seekers.
For those who prefer something more typical but still want to experience the best the Madrid party scene has to offer, Sol-Gran Via is where you’ll find most of the city’s most famous clubs and bars.
Where To Stay In Madrid As A Tourist
For easy access to the majority of Madrid’s tourist attractions, you’ll want to keep quite central and you can’t get much more central than Puerta del Sol. Situated at the midpoint between Chueca and La Latina, it’s also a major tourist hotspot in its own right, with shopping, dining, culture, and nightlife right on its doorstep.
If you stay to the south end of the district, near to Calle Atocha, you’ll be in a prime position to get to and from the major Madrid-Atocha train station, making getting in and out of the city a breeze.
Where To Stay In Madrid For New Years
Puerta del Sol is the place to be if you’re spending New Year’s eve in Madrid. Inarguably the centre of the city’s celebrations, the square is home to the historical clock tower that once determined the official time in Spain, and now draws thousands of revellers each year to partake in the traditional new year’s custom of eating twelve grapes as the clock ticks down to midnight.
Once the bell tolls, you’re perfectly placed to make your way to one of hundreds of clubs hosting their own New Year’s parties. However, be aware that it pays to plan ahead, as on-the-door tickets have a steep price increase over their prebooked counterparts.
Where To Stay In Madrid Near The Train Station
The primary train station in Madrid is Madrid Atocha, located to the south of the city centre near the lower corner of El Retiro park.
The station itself is huge, offering bars, restaurants, and its own botanical garden, but you’re probably not interested in spending all your time in the station itself, although you probably could.
Choosing a hotel along either the Calle Alfonso road, which runs up the westside of El Retiro, or Calle Atocha, which runs from the station through to Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor, will put you in prime position to explore some of Madrid’s premier attractions, without having to drag your luggage too far from the station.
Where To Stay In Madrid For Christmas
A city studded with ancient churches, Madrid is a magical place to spend the Christmas season, with churches competing to display the best nativity and shops and restaurants decorating their windows for the festivities.
Possibly the most iconic Christmas attraction in Madrid is the Plaza Mayor Christmas market, which covers the historic square with dozens of chalets, selling an array of Christmas gifts, decorations, and festive street foods.
Settled between Puerta del Sol and La Latina, staying near the Plaza Mayor will provide quick and easy access to much of the city’s central Christmas celebrations.
Where To Stay In Madrid For Your Honeymoon
For a romantic getaway in Madrid, it’s hard to beat Los Austrias, with its beautiful, historic architecture, intimate cafes, restaurants, and bars, as well as quaint souvenir shops, the area exudes romance.
Whilst there are romantic hotspots across the city, with notable mentions to the row boats of El Retiro Park and the gardens of La Latina, ultimately, Los Austrias consolidates too many romantic ideals into one convenient location to be beaten as a honeymoon destination.
Where To Stay In Madrid For Shopping
If shopping is one of the priorities of your trip, I have three suggestions for where to stay based on your budget and preferences.
If money is no issue, Salamanca is the place to go. A district designed to appeal to aristocracy, this is where you’ll find the high-end boutiques, big name fashion houses and designer home décor.
For a more conservative budget, Sol-Gran Via boasts a convenient mix of traditional, independent shops and more contemporary chain stores, set in a charming historic neighbourhood.
Finally, if you’re looking for unique finds and potentials bargains, La Latina is home to Madrid’s largest flea market, accented by surrounding antique shops and vintage stores.
Where To Stay in Madrid For Gay People
A modern, progressive city, Madrid is a playground for everyone, regardless of who they are. That said, if you’re seeking establishments that primarily cater to the LGBTQ community, you should head straight to Chueca.
The undisputed gay district of Madrid, Chueca is home to a thriving LGBTQ community and boasts a wide array of bars and restaurants flying the rainbow flag. If you’re in town for the Pride celebrations held in the middle of summer, this is the place to join the fun at some world-famous pride parties.
Where To Stay in Madrid With A Car
Being such a historic city, much of central Madrid consists of narrow, winding streets, which can be difficult to navigate by car. However, Madrid is also a modern metropolis, with several major avenues that have been built to connect the most popular districts.
If you’re visiting Madrid by car, your best bet would be to find a hotel along either Calle Atocha, which runs down the west side of El Retiro park, Calle Attocha, which runs between La Latina and Puerta del Sol, or Gran Via, a major avenue, and tourist spot in its own right, which separates Puerta del Sol and Chueca.
Madrid is the epitome of a modern city, with something to offer every demographic and preference. With the majority of the major attractions within convenient walking distance of one another, you should be able to see all you want to, regardless of where exactly you set up base camp.
That said, finding the perfect spot to call home for the duration of your trip can really make your stay perfect. Hopefully this article has helped you to do just that and narrowed down where you should stay, to get the most out of your trip to the Spanish capital.