The exclusive Barrio de Salamanca is renowned for smart apartment blocks, designer emporiums and its pijo residents who have no qualms about flaunting their wealth, but it’s also home to the wonderful Museo Arqueológico, the hidden gems of the Sorolla and Lázaro Galdiano collections as well as Real Madrid’s magnificent Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
Tranquil elegance: Hotel Orfila. Oozing class and elegance, the Orfila is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city streets. Exquisite rooms, a verdant patio for tea and drinks, high-class service and haute cuisine from Michelin-star chef Mario Sandoval. What more could you want?
Garden terrace: VP Jardín de Recoletos. A short walk from the Retiro park, the rooms in this recently refurbished hotel are spacious and well furnished, while the real attraction is the lovely shady garden terrace.
Museo Arqueológico © Adwo/Shutterstock
Best for being in the heart of the action: Sol and Huertas
The area around Sol and Plaza Mayor is the beating heart of the Spanish capital, packed with people, bars, restaurants, clubs and cafés. This is the place to be if you share the madrileños’ zest for life.
City centre style: Room Mate Alicia. A great spot if you want to hit the bars, clubs and cafés around Huertas, Room Mate Alicia has a selection of neat, cool rooms, including a smart terraced executive suite and a luxurious duplex complete with a mini swimming pool.
An upgraded classic: ME Madrid. Once a favourite haunt of bullfighters and celebrities, this giant wedding-cake of a hotel is now part of Melià’s exclusive ME chain. Expect minimalist decor, designer furnishings, a super-cool penthouse bar and a foyer bar serving creative tapas.
Plaza Mayor © S-F/Shutterstock
The adjacent barrios of Malasaña and Chueca form one of Madrid’s most vibrant quarters. Once a humble working-class area, they are now home to hipsters, boutique hotels, independent fashion outlets, design-conscious cafés and some critically acclaimed eateries.
Sleek and stylish: Only You Hotel. Housed in a refurbished nineteenth-century building, this boutique hotel offers sleek standard rooms and upmarket suites, a swish cocktail bar and a small wellness zone.
Urban spa: Hotel Urso. Spacious, well-equipped and comfortable rooms in this elegant hotel with a small spa area, relaxing bar and a bamboo-fringed patio restaurant.
Chueca © dmitro2009/Shutterstock
Three superlative art galleries – the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza – are wedged into the Paseo del Arte. This stretch has the added advantage of being adjacent to the tranquil botanical gardens and the stately Parque del Retiro – perfect places to seek out if you need a break from the frenzied city centre.
Aristocratic artworks: Villa Real. A distinguished hotel with its own art collection. The luxurious doubles offer spacious sitting areas and many have balconies too, while the East 47 restaurant, whose walls are decorated with Andy Warhol lithographs, has a summer terrace with splendid views over the nearby parliament building and down towards the Paseo del Prado.
Pole position for Picasso: Artrip Hotel. The perfect location for art connoisseurs, the Artrip is close to the Reina Sofia – home to Picasso’s iconic masterpiece Guernica – and on the edge of the lively Lavapiés district with its teahouses and tapas bars. Inside are seventeen bright white, pristine, design-conscious rooms with comfortable beds.
Reina Sofia © Jose Redondo Villalon/Shutterstock