Disclosure: I was given a complimentary stay in exchange for this review but as always, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
As a solo traveler on a budget, I choose my travel accommodation very carefully. It needs to be affordable, well located, and social without feeling like spring break in Cabo. I’m no party animal, but I do like making friends (who doesn’t?), and hostels are one of the easiest ways to meet people on the road.
As some of you know, I often lean toward staying at Airbnbs when I can because I love being able to get a feel for local living. However, after a few people asked me about accommodation in Madrid, I knew it was time to buckle down and research some hostels. See how much I love you guys?
Enter Mad Hostel, one of Madrid’s coolest places to stay for budget travelers. When I first spoke with Daniela, the hostel manager, I told her I was looking for two things:
- A hostel for budget travelers, not backpackers. I’m willing to pay a little extra for comfortable accommodation. #NoLongerACollegeStudent
- A hostel that was social but NOT for partying. I like to leave the party at the door because I’m a grandma.
Daniela told me that Mad would be a perfect fit and that all the partying backpackers stay at their sister hotel, Cat’s Hostel. WIN! Read on to find out why Mad Hostel is my #1 pick for accommodation in Madrid.
Mad Hostel is located on the north end of Lavapies, an ultra-hip up-and-coming neighborhood in the Madrid city center. It’s a 2-minute walk from the Anton Martin metro station, and a ten-minute walk from Madrid’s main central station, Sol. Mad’s convenient location meant that the only time I used the metro was to get to and from the airport and bus station. My lazy self got a good amount of steps in on this visit.
Note: Lavapies gets a bad rep from some of the older Spaniards, but I can assure you that I never once felt unsafe in this colorful neighborhood. It’s always lively and is filled with tons of cheap shops and amazing ethnic food.
I’m admittedly a bit of a princess when it comes to sharing my space with strangers – aka, I don’t like to do it. At Mad, I stayed in a twin private ensuite (€60 / night), but they also offer a variety of dorms that sleep between 4-6 people each.
All the rooms come with AC / heaters (a must in Madrid!), outlets, reading lamps, and of course, free WiFi. If you stay in a private room, you also get towels, toiletries, and hangers. The rooms are ultra-clean, comfortable and modern – mine would have easily fit another person.
If I had to choose one thing to rave about, it would be the ambiance of Mad Hostel. I know I mentioned this earlier but I’ll repeat – party hostels are so NOT my jam. While Mad Hostel is incredibly social, all the late-night drinking shenanigans took place down the street at their sister hostel, Cat’s. Between both hostels, the social calendar was chock-full of activities including tapas tours, walking tours, karaoke nights, salsa classes and more! At Mad, there’s a rooftop terrace open from 6pm – 11pm daily where people can hang out, get a drink, and listen to music. There’s also plenty of space in the reception area to chill as well. Socializing made easy for the solo / social traveler is definitely an accommodation win in my book!
If you’re planning on staying in a shared room, the prices at Mad are excellent. Six person dorms (the largest rooms at Mad) start at €13 per night, which is a steal. I have to admit that since Mad doesn’t offer any single private rooms (only double rooms), the price for a solo traveler to stay in a private room is on the pricier side. However, if you come with a friend and split the bill, then you get amazing ambiance and privacy on a budget. The ambiance alone is definitely worth paying for.
- Free breakfast: Get your day started right with breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Mad offers a variety of cereals, pastries, and toast – totally on par with what you eat for breakfast in Spain. There’s also water, juice, and a fancy coffee machine that makes cappuccinos and other caffeinated drinks. Did I mention it’s free?
- Activities: I know I briefly mentioned the activities above, but you can access a full overview of the activities here. A lot of those are free too, including the paella class, salsa class and walking tours.
- Strong Wi-Fi: I spent more time working than I’d like to admit, but it did give me a good opportunity to test out the free Wi-Fi. It’s spectacular and works in every corner of the hostel.
- Laundry: Laundry is never free, but at Mad it’s inexpensive AND conveniently located in the hostel itself. You can wash and dry your clothes without having to schlep them to some laundromat and guard them, which is a luxury for long-term travelers.
The (minor) shortcomings:
No accommodation is perfect but I must say that the drawbacks at Mad are quite minimal. My main “complaint” was that the room didn’t have the AC control. It was controlled by the lobby, which meant a trip to the lobby every time I wanted the AC on or off. Not a deal breaker but a bit of a pain. It’s also worth adding that the door and key system is great for security since it’s complicated enough to confuse the average person, at least at the beginning. Once you get the hang of it it’s fine, but trying to get into my room the first day was comical, to say the least. Lastly, there’s no hook for the shower hose, which makes washing your hair an amusing experience. All these things are pretty minor in my book, but I’m a big believer in comprehensive reviews.
Mostly, I wish I’d had more time to spend socializing with people rather than working! But hey, can’t complain about doing the work I love, right?
Overall, I had an amazing stay at Mad Hostel and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a social place to stay in Madrid on a budget. The ambiance, cool activities, and comfortable amenities make it a hostel I would return to again and again. Side note: if you’re planning a trip to Madrid, don’t forget to check out my budget guide to the city!
P.S. If you find yourself looking for cool stuff around Lavapies, check out Habibi Lebnen for fabulous Lebanese food, Café Infinito for a cool coffee shop vibe, and El Rastro Flea Market on Sundays for an extensive collection of knick-knacks and goodies.
Book your stay with this link!
MAD Hostel Madrid
C/ De la Cabeza, 24
Telephone: +34 91 506 48 40
Tell me: What makes a hostel a cool place to stay? Do you have any accommodation deal-breakers? Share in the comments below!
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