Airport: Madrid Barajas (MAD)
Served by: American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, LAN, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines
Getting There By Air
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Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD)
Tel: 913 211 000.
Madrid Barajas Airport is located 12km (8 miles) northeast of Madrid.
Madrid Barajas Airport has two banks in each of Terminals 2 and 4. There are also bureaux de change and ATMs available throughout the airport.
Madrid offers a range of hotels as diverse as any modern capital. The Spanish chains are represented strongly, of course, and more and more smaller boutique properties have been springing up.
The Madrid hotels below have been grouped into three pricing categories:
Luxury (over €300)
Moderate (€100 to €300)
Cheap (under €100)
These Madrid hotel prices are per double room per night, and include all taxes. Breakfast is usually included in the price. Spanish VAT (IVA) is 7% and is added to all hotel bills.
One of the popular cheap hotels in Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá area, its 120 rooms are spacious and are decorated in classic style. It was one of the first luxury hotels in Madrid at the start of the 20th century. It was only when the Ritz was established in 1910 that it was relegated to a more modest category. Its main attraction is its location, right on the Puerta del Sol, with the main cultural and gastronomic attractions right on its doorstep.
Calle Alcalá 2
Tel: 91 521 6496.
Best Western Hotel Trafalgar
Less than 10 minutes from the centre of town by metro (Iglesia or Bilbao), the Trafalgar is a modern hotel that is popular with both tourists and businesspeople. It lies in a residential neighbourhood, well provided with shops, restaurants and other amenities. The 48 en-suite rooms, while unexceptional, are air conditioned and have direct-dial telephones and TV. There is also a laundry service and currency exchange. The English-speaking staff are friendly and helpful but the real plus (surprising given the price) is the indoor swimming pool.
Calle Trafalgar 35
Tel: 91 445 6200.
It’s not just the location that makes this a great value hotel, although being a stone’s throw from Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza del Angel doesn’t hurt. The building is a lovely 1920s throwback, and the rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings. Many hotels are charging way more for way less. One of the best cheap hotels in Madrid.
Calle Echegaray 1
Tel: 91 429 9551.
Hotel AC Santo Mauro
This small luxury Madrid hotel with 51 rooms, situated in a leafy corner of the historic Chamberí neighbourhood, is housed in a 19th-century palace that once served as an embassy. It has been reconstructed in a tasteful combination of neoclassical and avant-garde styles. The lounges, ornamented with stucco mouldings, mirrors and fluted pilasters, evoke the refinement of a bygone age and are the perfect setting for entertaining clients. Other facilities include business services, six conference rooms (occupying the former ballrooms), interpreting services, multilingual staff, an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.
Calle Zurbano 36
Tel: 91 319 6900.
Hotel Puerta América
This recent addition to Madrid skyline was conceived as an architectural showcase. While the facade is the work of the French architect Jean Nouvel, each of the hotel's 12 floors have been conceived by a different architect or a designer. Located in one of the busy access roads to the city centre, this 5-star hotel is only 10km (6 miles) away from the airport and not far from the shops of Salamanca District. The room facilities include Wi-Fi, telephone, satellite TV, and a 24-hour room service. Meeting and conference halls cater for up to 900 people. There is also a spa, a small gym, an indoor swimming pool and Turkish baths. The cuisine offered by the stylish main restaurant is another highlight. Head chef José Luis Estevan serves an international menu with its roots in traditional Spanish cuisine.
Avenida de América 41
Tel: 91 744 5400.
Formerly the Grand Hotel Reina Victoria, this swanky pad has been reborn as a luxury addition to the Sol Melia portfolio. A coterie of designer-clad staff buzz around the lobby, and the rooms are suited to the superstar galacticos of the Real Madrid football team. Plasma TV screens and bespoke lighting patterns enhance the atmosphere. One of the best luxury hotels in Madrid.
Plaza de Santa Ana, 14
Tel: 902 14 44 40.
This hotel, founded in 1886, enjoys an excellent location in the old part of Madrid, less than 100m (328ft) from Puerta del Sol and convenient for cultural attractions, such as the Prado and the restaurants around Calle Huertas. Rooms overlooking the street may be noisy late at night; those at the back are quieter. All rooms are en suite. Other facilities include a gym, a cafe and a garage.
Calle Echegaray 8
Tel: (91) 429 6551.
The location is one of the main attractions of this 170-room boutique hotel in Madrid, opposite Goya Metro station in the upmarket Salamanca district, 1km (0.6 miles) from Retiro Park and the chic shops of Calle Serrano. There are a few forays into the realm of luxury service, with a pillow menu and a book delivery service. The restaurant serves creative Mediterranean dishes.
Calle Goya 79
Tel: 91 435 7545.
Petit Palace Ducal
Located close to the Gran Via, this Madrid hotel can truly boast ‘all mod cons’. Part of the state-of-the-art High Tech hotel chain, the rooms are full of electronic knobs and whistles. That doesn’t impinge on comfort levels, though, and the red and black décor gives it a classy feel.
Calle Hortaleza 3
Tel: 91 521 1043.
Breakfast meetings are popular, perhaps because these are usually accompanied by delicious cakes and strong coffee. Lunch and dinner appointments are also common. Business cards are vital at initial meetings and smart dress, including a suit (and tie for men), is advisable. Small talk is a vital accompaniment to any meeting, as personal relationships must be developed before business can be done. Children, grandchildren, the flight to Madrid and the weather usually occupy the conversation before business rears its ugly head. While Madrileños work extremely hard, nothing is of more importance than the family and it is entirely acceptable for an important telephone conversation to be postponed if a family member rings.
The city's focal point remains the Puerta del Sol - the eastern puerta (gate) of the city during the 15th century. The monument of the bear and madroño (strawberry tree), in the centre of the square, symbolises Madrid.
The Calle Mayor leads west from Sol, to the Plaza Mayor, which evokes the splendour of Spain's 17th-century Golden Age.
The Calle de Alcalá, a grandiose thoroughfare constructed in the reign of Charles III, leads east of Sol, towards Plaza de Cibeles. The fountain, with its statue of a Greco-Roman fertility goddess astride a lion-drawn chariot, is a landmark instantly recognisable to all Spaniards. Visitors might be less impressed with the crazy merry-go-round of traffic encircling her. Overlooking Plaza de Cibeles is the imposing Palacio de Comunicaciones - the main post office, dating from 1904.
The Madrid cityscape is softened by numerous green spaces - lovely squares, such as the Plaza de Oriente, in front of the Royal Palace, and parks, most obviously the landscaped Parque del Buen Retiro and Jardín Botánico (Botanical Gardens) near the Prado.
Further west is the wilder Casa de Campo, which also contains the Parque de Atracciones funfair and leisure grounds. More unusual is the greenhouse in the Atocha Station (entrance at concourse, gate 14), popular with Madrileños and visitors.
Plaza Mayor 27
Tel: 91 588 1636.
Opening hours: Daily 0930-2030.
There are also branches in: Conde Duque de Medinacelli 2 (tel: 91 429 4951; open daily 0930-2030), Mercado Puerta de Toledo 2 (tel: 91 364 1876; open daily 0900-2030), Aeropuerto de Barajas Terminal 1 (tel: 91 305 8656; open daily 0930-2000), Estacion de Chamartin (tel: 91 315 9976; open daily 0930-2000) and Estacion de Atocha (tel: 90 210 0007; open daily 0930-2000).
There is also the Patronato Municipal de Turismo, Mayor 69 (tel: 91 588 2900; open Mon-Thurs 0800-1500 and 1600-1800, Fri 0800-1500).
The theme of this attractively landscaped theme park is bio-diversity. Each of the 10 pavilions has been specially designed to recreate a different natural environment, with the aim of demonstrating how life (animal life in particular) has learned to adapt to a variety of ecosystems. Thanks to the latest high-tech wizardry, visitors can 'experience' a tropical storm, take a stroll through the rain forest, visit the polar regions with temperatures of -5ºC (23ºF), or watch rivers of molten lava flowing 1,000m (3,281ft) beneath the earth's surface.
Avenida de las Comunidades 28
Tel: 91 301 6210.
Opening hours: Vary according to season, limited to daylight hours.
Admission Fee: Yes.
Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Royal Barefoot Sisters)
Founded by Juana de Austria, the daughter of Charles V, in 1559, as a retreat for noblewomen, the Convento de las Descalzas Reales is still a functioning convent. A superb example of 16th- to 17th-century baroque architecture, it contains a magpie's hoard of artistic treasures, including Flemish tapestries, Italian and Flemish paintings and sculptures, religious artefacts and more. The convent is open for guided tours only. Tours are in Spanish, although questions are taken in English.
Plaza de las Descalzas Reales 3
Tel: 91 547 5350.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0930-1700, Sun 0900-1400 (Oct-Mar); Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 0900-1500 (Apr-Sep).
Admission Fee: Yes.
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Reina Sofia National Art Centre Museum)
Housed in a former hospital built by Francesco Sabatini for Carlos III in the late 18th century, the museum was designed by the Spanish architect Antonio Fernánez Alba in 1977 and completed in 1990. Officially opened by the King and Queen in 1992, it is dedicated to Spanish 20th-century art, pride of place belonging to Picasso's disturbing Civil War canvas, Guernica . Dalí, Miró and Juan Gris are among the other artists on show. More recently the museum has expanded with a building created by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The expansion houses the museum's library, a 450-seat auditorium and temporary exhibitions galleries.
Calle Santa Isabel 52
Tel: 91 774 1000.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 1000-2100, Sun 1000-1430.
Admission Fee: Yes (except free on Saturdays between 1430-1900 and Sundays).
Disabled Access: Yes
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum)
Madrid purchased the private collection of Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza after a nine-and-a-half-year loan, instantly enriching the city's fund of art treasures. The collection contains over 800 paintings, sculptures, carvings and tapestries, ranging from primitive Flemish works to contemporary pieces. Highlights include works by Fra Angelico, Van Eyck, Dürer, Caravaggio and Rubens.
Paseo del Prado 8
Tel: 91 369 0151.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 1000-1900.
Admission Fee: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Museo del Prado (Prado Museum)
The Prado Museum (founded in 1819) is among Europe's greatest art galleries. Within its 4,000-strong collection of 16th- to early 19th-century paintings, are masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Bosch (El Bosco), Titian, Rembrandt and Velázquez, as well as evidence of the astonishing development of Goya - from his sun-soaked early paintings of dances and festivities to the grim madness of his black period.
Paseo del Prado s/n
Tel: 91 330 2900.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 0900-1200.
Admission Fee: Yes (except for Sundays).
Disabled Access: Yes
Palacio Real (Royal Palace)
With the opulence of Versailles in mind, Philip V commissioned Italian architects Giambattista Sacchetti and Francesco Sabatini to build the Royal Palace, following a fire that destroyed the medieval Alcázar in 1764. The present king, Juan Carlos I, resides in the more subdued Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid, so Philip's 3000-room extravaganza is only used for state functions. The rest of the time, the startling white building in granite and Colmenar stone is open for tours and individual visits. Highlights include the Hall of Halberdiers and Hall of Columns, the Throne Room with its 17th-century sculptures, and the lavish private apartments.
Calle Bailén s/n
Plaza de Oriente
Tel: 91 454 8800.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 0930-1700, Sun 0900-1400 (Oct-Mar); Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 0900-1500 (Apr-Sep); closed during official ceremonies.
Admission Fee: Yes (except for Wednesdays which are free for EU nationals).
Disabled Access: Yes
Parque Juan Carlos I
This modern and vast green space (Madrid's biggest park) holds within it the recinto ferial (fairground), where most of Madrid's exhibitions take place. It also holds the largest collection of macro-sculptures in Spain. People come here to walk, ride their bicycles, fly kites and fish. There is even an enclosure to exercise dogs.
glorieta de Don Juan de Borbon s/n
Campo de las Naciones
Tel: 91 721 0079.
Opening hours: 0700-2400 (summer); 0700-2200 (winter). Open until 0000 during shows.
Admission Fee: No.
Disabled Access: Yes
Teatro de la Zarzuela
This theatre is the major venue for zarzuela - a genre loosely comparable to Viennese operetta, which encapsulates the idealised castizo (authenticity) of working class Madrid. The zarzuela season runs from June to September.
Calle de Jovellanos 4
Tel: 91 524 5400.
In the heart of Madrid, near Puerta de Sol, and close to Prado lies Cardamomo, a a great place to have a drink, dine and enjoy live, authentic flamenco. Here, locals and tourists enjoy nightly performances lasting around 90 minutes, with an extra show planned on Fridays and Saturdays.Calle de Echegaray
Tel: 91 369 0757.
Also known as El Real, this is one of the world's grandest opera houses. It manages to juggle Spanish and international dance, along with their commitment to music and opera. It is located just in front of the Royal Palace.
Plaza de Oriente
Tel: 91 516 0660.
Teatro La Abadía
Since opening in 1995, this grand venue has met with great acclaim for its superb performances of international classics. It occupies an impressive space that was formerly the chapel of a boarding school from the 1940s. The season runs from September to June.
Calle Fernández de los Ríos 42
Tel: 91 448 1181.
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