Hotel Reviews - Europe

Where to stay in Madrid: Choose Villa Real for affordable luxury

Caroline can recommend the Villa Real for a reasonably priced 5 star stay in Madrid but guards against taking the concierge’s advice as gospel!

We are just back from four nights in Madrid, staying at the 5 star Villa Real. The hotel is part of the Small Luxury Hotel collection although I have to say it is less luxurious than some we have stayed in. However, for £420 for the four nights (obtained through booking.com) I certainly can’t complain. The room rate did not include breakfast which would have added €15 each per day to the bill; this was a discounted price for residents (normally €23 per person). There are plenty of cafes near the hotel, traditional Spanish as well as Starbucks, so this is not a problem for those, like us, who decided against eating in the hotel and chose to catch the sun enjoying a coffee and a pastry outdoors.

Villa Real hotel

Villa Real hotel

The room was spacious with a sofa, coffee table and desk with TV down a few steps from the sleeping area. My only criticism was that it was rather brown! Brown furniture, brown bedspreads, deep brown wooden floors all combined to make the room slightly gloomy but this is a personal thing and no doubt many would have found it quite trendy, complete with modern art works on the wall. I had asked for a quiet room, aware that the people of Madrid keep late hours, and for this reason a view over the square which housed the parliament building (it took us a day or two to work out why there were police with machine guns outside 24/7!) was sacrificed. The hotel has a gym and in the summer guests can use the nearby sister hotel’s pool.

Bedroom - quite brown!

Bedroom – quite brown!

Seating area

Seating area

Tapas style lunches are served outdoors and very good they were too. The Iberian ham croquettes and patatas bravas were absolutely delicious – so good in fact that we decided to splash out on a taxi back to the airport on our last day, rather than get the bus,to give ourselves time to have a final lunch there!

We also had dinner in the hotel restaurant, East 47, on our second evening, enjoying a 30% discount on food. Drinks at the bar first were accompanied by lovely little tapas, salted almonds and olives. The restaurant upstairs has a relaxed vibe but service from the young waiter was professional and attentive. The somewhat taciturn barman downstairs could learn a thing or two! I had no room for a starter after the nibbles and a basket of delicious bread but my husband enjoyed his anchovies. He then went on to have tempura crab whilst I had a spiced lamb burger with couscous and a yogurt dressing. I am always wary of trendy restaurants’ desire to serve burgers rare (the bacteria present on the outside of most meat ends up in the middle after it is minced, leaving you vulnerable to food poisoning) and I did ask for mine to be cooked well done. It turned up pinker than I would have liked but I ploughed on and luckily seem to have escaped any ill effects.

The hotel’s location is excellent for sightseeing, almost opposite the Thyssen gallery and a stone’s throw from the Prado and the lovely Retiro Gardens. The metro at Sol is not far if you want to go further afield, perhaps to the Sorolla museum or to the mainline station at Chamartin if you are venturing out of the city for the day.

The lovely nearby Retiro Gardens

The lovely nearby Retiro Gardens

And here comes my grumble! We had been contacted before we arrived by the hotel concierge to see if we wanted any information. I emailed asking whether we should book our train tickets ahead for the day trip to Segovia which we were planning. Back came the reply saying that we could just turn up and buy the tickets. Sadly when we got to the station in good time for our train it turned out to be full, as did several other trains that day. The train in question is an express train so there is no standing. If there are no seats free you can’t buy a ticket. To cut a long story short we managed to book on a later train but this misinformation meant that we had a long time to hang around at Chamartin and had to get a much later train back to Madrid than we wanted. It wasn’t helped by the fact that it was a Bank Holiday weekend in Madrid but further research has demonstrated that it is in fact always worth booking ahead for the AVE trains to Segovia!

Segovia, 55 miles but only 25 mins away - but book your train ahead!

Segovia, 55 miles but only 25 mins away – but book your train ahead!

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