Where to Stay/What to do in Madrid?

Going to Madrid end of March. Looking for suggestions on cheap hotels/hostels.

Also, must do and do not dos!

I have stayed on several occasions at Hostal Matute.

It’s in an old building. Accomodations are basic, but clean and adequate. Friendly staff. It’s convenient to transit and to museums.

Watch for pickpockets on the subway.

See the art museums in Madrid, including The Prado of course.

Take a side trip to Toledo and/or Segovia, and/or Avila if possible. Great historic towns which give you more of a feel for old Spain than does modern Madrid. Toledo was renowned historically for producing great swords, and they still make them there, which is kind of neat. Pick up a pocketknife or some kitchen knives there, or heck, an actual sword if you’re so inclined. Toledo has great old cobblestone streets and a beautiful cathedral. Segovia also has a nice cathedral, and an old Roman aqueduct that is still functional.
How long will you be staying?

Here’s a better link for Hostal Matute (with pictures).

General Questions is for questions to which there are very factual answers. You need opinions and IMHO.

No big deal.

Moved, samclem GQ moderator

OOPS, Sorry-bat

The Hostal Benamar on c/San Mateo, metro Tribunal, had very clean rooms for €18/night, which was amazing to me.

As to see, the Royal Palace is unmissable, as is the Alcazar (castle/palace) in Segovia. Another not-that-well-known part is the Convento de las Descalzas Reales, an unbelievably luxe convent near the Royal Palace.

Take advantage of the opportunity to visit cities in the adjacent provinces: bus fare is unbelievably cheap, as is their broad network of commuter trains.

Hotel Europa on Plaza del Sol was ok-- I don’t recall a breakfast but in the heat of summer we were able to chill beer in the bidet. They had these magical windows where you couldn’t hear the street through them, which in Madrid is really remarkable. I second side trips to Segovia and Toledo. The Escorial is a nifty trip, too, if you’re into the history/ art thing. Somebody already mentioned the Prado-- the Thyssen-Bornessima (sp?) is really spectacular, too, and in the same area. A great overlooked collection.
Eat churros and chocolate for breakfast. Bullfighting is much nastier and inhuman than you think it is. The subway’s good. The streets are crowded. Watch yer wallet. Don’t let the waiter sell you up into the jamon iberico unless you’ve a heavy wallet.

The taxis are very cheap, and the main station in Madrid is called Atocha Renfe (be careful ´cos there are two Atocha stations!).

No need to tip for meals and drinks. Food and drink is quite cheap if you choose carefully. Many bars have “tapas” (small complimentary servings of food that come with the beer), or “raciones” (larger portions that you have to pay for).

I recommend that you brush up on your Spanish before you go, even though lots of people speak English in Mardid, it is not so common in the outlying towns.

Just want to second the Prado.
It is full of treasures.

I’ll second that. I went there as an afterthought (when my departure got delayed) and was greatly impressed. Here’s a link.

And if you enjoy viewing art, you’ll also want to check out theCentro de Arte Reina Sofía, where you can get a look at Picasso’s “Guernica.”

But if you only go to one museum, don’t miss The Prado.

Actually, what it is is there are two metro stations near Atocha rail station: they are called Atocha and Atocha Renfe. Atocha Renfe is the one you want for the rail station. (The other Atocha metro station, incidentally, is the stop for the Reina Sofía art museum.)

This site is a great resource for tourists to Madrid.

Madrid is an amazing city - have fun!