A trio of world-class art galleries, an atmospheric historic core, the most successful club in the history of football and some of the best tapas, bars and nightlife in the whole of SpainMadrid has something to offer everyone.

With accommodation taking up a large slice of most travellers’ budgets, deciding where to stay may be your most important decision in getting the most out of the Spanish capital. So whatever kind of trip you have in mind, here’s the lowdown on the best areas to stay in the city from the new editions of our Spain and Madrid guides.

Best for designer chic: Barrio de Salamanca

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.

National Archaeological Museum, Madrid, SpainMuseo 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, Madrid, SpainPlaza Mayor © S-F/Shutterstock

Best for the hip and happening: Malasaña and Chueca

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, Madrid, SpainChueca © dmitro2009/Shutterstock

Best for art lovers: Paseo del Arte

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.

Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, SpainReina Sofia © Jose Redondo Villalon/Shutterstock

Best for the historic core: Madrid de los Austrias and Ópera

If it is atmosphere you are looking for, then the historic districts of Madrid de los Austrias and Ópera are the places to be. Tangled streets, Flemish-inspired architecture and the extravagant Plaza Mayor dominate the former, while Ópera is a more refined, stately quarter that emanates from the royal palace and the Parisian-style Plaza de Oriente.

Old meets new: Posada del León de Oro. A stone’s throw from Plaza Mayor, this former inn has been converted into a boutique hotel with seventeen minimalist rooms, each with an individual touch, comfortable beds, cotton sheets and modern bathrooms. It’s worth noting that there’s a minimum stay of three nights in high season.

Good value by the palace: Hotel Meninas. Named after Velázquez’s famous painting, Hotel Meninas is nestled in a quiet street close to the Palacio Real and Ópera. Helpful staff, a selection of tasteful doubles, stylish suites and roomy family options. Breakfast is included if you reserve through the website.

Royal Palace, Madrid, SpainThe royal palace © MIGUEL GARCIA SAAVEDRA/Shutterstock

Best for the lights and sights: Gran Vía

One of Madrid’s great avenues, Gran Vía cuts a swathe through the city from east to west. Ground level is crammed with shops and shoppers, but look up and you can feast your eyes on a panoply of architectural styles, sculptures and facades. To the north lie the bars and clubs of Chueca and Malasaña, to the south the sights and sounds of Sol and Huertas.

Rooftop cocktails: Hotel Principal. Spoil yourself with five-star accommodation, a cool rooftop cocktail bar with wonderful views across Gran Vía and an attic restaurant run by Michelin-star chef Ramón Freixa.

Pleasant surprises: Hotel Santo Domingo. What with the jungle paintings adorning the car park, a record-breaking vertical garden and waterfall and rooftop swimming pool, this competitively priced hotel is full of nice surprises. Rooms have individual decor, large beds and walk-in showers.

Gran Via, Madrid, SpainGran Vía © Studioimagen73/Shutterstock

This feature contains affiliate links; you can find out more about why we’ve partnered with booking.com here. All recommendations are editorially independent and taken from the Pocket Rough Guide to Madrid and The Rough Guide to Spain. Top image: Gran Vía and Madrid skyline at sunset © Sven Hansche/Shutterstock.

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