Business hotels apart, most of Madrid’s accommodation is pretty central. With increasing competition, many hostales and hotels have been busy upgrading their facilities and a new breed of stylish, design-conscious, medium-priced hotel has emerged. Many of the expensive hotels do special weekend offers, and prices drop substantially in August when temperatures soar towards 40°C (air-conditioning is usual and a welcome extra). You’ll notice that buildings in the more popular hotel/hostal areas often house two or three separate establishments, each on separate floors; these are generally independent of each other. One thing to bear in mind is noise; bars, clubs, traffic and roadworks all contribute to making Madrid a high-decibel city, so avoid rooms on the lower floors, or choose a place away from the nightlife if you want a bit of peace and quiet. Madrid has just one campsite, located well out of the centre, but there are two very handy backpackers’ hostels right in the heart of the city. There are accommodation services at the airport (Viajes Aira in T1, T2 and T4; 913 054 224; no fee), the Estación Sur de Autobuses, and Atocha and Chamartín train stations.
If you want to be at the heart of the old town, the areas around Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Santa Ana and Plaza Mayor are the ones to go for; if you’re into nightlife, Malasaña or Chueca may also appeal; for a quieter location and a bit of class, you should opt for the Paseo del Prado, Recoletos or Salamanca areas; if you have children the areas around the parks are good options.