Madrid is the sleepless, spirited capital of Spain. Rolling out in the shadow of the Sierra de Guadarrama in the geographical centre of the country, it flits from moody medieval districts to chic modern areas that bustle with big business. The main attractions are vignettes of the Baroque and the beautiful, from the statue-topped Puerta del Sol to the grand Palacio Real – the official residence of the King of Spain. Beyond those, you can trace the footsteps of Cervantes in the Barrio de las Letras and party the night away in a shower of sangria and Rioja in the happening Huertas district. And that’s not even mentioning the culture-packed Museum Triangle and the potential daytrips out to immersive Toledo or Segovia.
These days, an estimated 1.2 million visitors to the Spanish capital pick an Airbnb in Madrid over a conventional hotel. They get the choice of thousands of listings that range from uber-chic penthouses in the heart of the Huertas to family-sized pads within walking distance of Museum Triangle. This guide is a great place to begin if you’re thinking of joining them. It offers insights into the various neighbourhoods Madrid has to offer, and showcases some of the very best Airbnb rentals in the city.
There are some strict limitations when it comes to Airbnb in Madrid. However, you shouldn’t need to worry about them as a traveler: They’re all handled by the owners of properties, never the guest. Basically, the city has decreed that you can only rent out entire places that don’t have a dedicated entrance of their own for a maximum of 90 days in a year. What’s more, all homes need to be registered with the Spanish government and display their registration number as part of their online listing. If in doubt, you can check everything’s in order before you reserve by using the ‘contact host’ feature to ask any questions you might have.
Where should I stay in Madrid Airbnb?
Old Madrid is shared between the immersive Barrio de las Letras(1) department and the bar-filled La Latina(2) neighbourhood, which both offer history, culture, and nightlife in equal measure. Chueca(3) awaits to the north of that, with its friendly and welcoming LGBTQ vibes. Malasaña(4), meanwhile, has claimed the title of Madrid’s main hipster hub, while Salamanca(5) is for the jet setters in search of fine Rioja wines and haute cuisine. To the south comes Lavapiés(6), a lively, multicultural enclave with flea markets and enthralling museums.
Arguably the best dining scene in the city
Very busy on weekends
Can feel a little cramped
Calling all foodies – La Latina is the gastronomic epicentre of the Spanish capital. Weekends see the umpteen bars that cram the plazas and streets between El Jardín del Príncipe de Anglona and the Puerta de Toledo fill to bursting with Madrileños. They devour smorgasbords of sizzling patatas bravas, Iberico hams and frothy beers from lunch until late. Shoppers are also bound to love the sprawling Mercado de la Cebada, while history buffs can enjoy wandering one of the most ancient corners of town, surrounded by Baroque churches and vintage theatres.
Just north of the Gran Via road and the historic heart of Madrid is where Chueca flaunts it fantastic nightlife scene and LGBTQ-friendly vibe. It’s unquestionably one of the liveliest barrios in the metropolis, swirling in a haze of beer stops and multi-story clubs around the Plaza de Chueca. Visitors are greeted with flapping rainbow flags on every boulevard and more café-bars than you can shake a plate of tapas at. Arrive in late June or early July if you really want to see the neighbourhood in full swing. That’s when one of Europe’s biggest Pride celebrations takes over.
The Literary Quarter, the Barrio de las Letras, Huertas – call it what you like, but this central hub of Madrid fizzes with life. It’s the place to go for a good party. Be sure to start the evening in the al fresco cerveceria of Plaza Santa Ana and then move to the wine bodegas and flamenco venues that spread southwards towards Calle de Atocha. By day – if you can shake the hangover! – there’s plenty in the way of culture. This was once the stomping ground of Miguel de Cervantes (by far Spain’s most famous writer) and there are bars once frequented by Ernest Hemingway to boot.
Not fantastically connected to the rest of the city
New York has Greenwich Village, London has Camden, Madrid has Malasaña. Welcome to the alternative, creative, hipster hub of the Spanish capital. Ready to wow visitors with its medley of vintage clothes warehouses, roaster cafés, and underground punk clubs, it tucks neatly into the urban sprawl only a little to the north of the downtown core. Theatre-going and shopping down the colourful strip of Calle Fuencarral should also be on the itinerary in these parts.
Madrid’s 1% make their home in the Salamanca district. It’s the place to go if you’re looking to taste the high life and be pampered. Grand streets of turn-of-the-century architecture roll out in a montage of haute couture outlets and designer brand stores. Enticing food halls that burst with champagne and gourmet plates await on the Plaza de Colón. You’ll see Michelin-rated restaurants and elegant Aperitivo bars galore. Just be sure there are enough euros in the wallet to fund it all!
South of the centre is Lavapiés, where Madrid gets truly multicultural. Street markets and food bazaars await here, but it’s not only Spanish organic veg – it’s also East Asian spices and curious North African craft goods. On top of that come Mexicana grills, creative fusion tapas houses, and coffee roasters with single-origin beans. Finally, Lavapiés lays claim to one third of the famous Museum Triangle of Madrid: The Reina Sofía Museum. Within are modern masterworks by Picasso, Juan Gris, and Joan Miró.
There’s an authentic Spanish country feel to this retro-look flat in the southern reaches of La Latina. Surrounded by tapas bars and cerveza houses, it’s got exposed beams and white-painted walls. The property is compact but kitschy, and artfully balances the new and the old between its bright living-dining space, single bedroom, and modern bathroom.
Casa de Campo en Toledo sits just 40 minutes’ drive from the heart of the Spanish capital, but also only 30 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage city of Toledo – one of the country’s most amazing destinations. You can check off both and then return to a rustic home with a private swimming pool and sweeping views over the rolling farm fields and forests of the central highland plateaus.
Sleek, chic, and loaded with Scandi-cool furnishings, this spacious and breezy flat can whisk the family down to the area between Huertas and Lavapiés. That means you’ll be just steps from the cultural draws of the Museum Triangle, but also within reach of flea markets and Spanish tapas restaurants – loads to keep all ages busy. The property itself offers a trio of bedrooms, capacity for six, and interiors that ooze artistic flair.
Groups of up to 16 can make their home away from home in this sprawling apartment of more than 180 square metres down in the heart of Madrid Centro. Sights like the Plaza Mayor are just a stone’s throw from the front door, while the inside ranges through double bedrooms and bunk rooms to ensure all types of party are catered to. Design wise, you can look forward to a fusion of modernism, classic Spanish tiling, and cutting-edge installations.
Bag a space for you and your other half to retreat to after long bouts of sightseeing by booking this penthouse on the eastern fringes of hip Malasaña. It works to channel the boho vibes of the local area by mingling industrial-chic and upcycled materials, all with a touch of contemporary art and Scandinavian-inspired furnishing. The result? A pad that’s perfect for couples who like a little dash of luxury.
If you’re eager to save as many euros as you can for your tapas trips through La Latina and sangria-fuelled nights in Chueca, Airbnb in Madrid might just be the perfect choice. Generally speaking, short-term rentals on the platform come in a little cheaper than classic hotels. What’s more, you’re often able to cut costs further by looking for places that can host your whole travel group (and then share the price of the stay) and have self-catering facilities (less spent in the Madrileño eateries). It’s also possible to score pretty generous discounts of up to 50% on longer term rentals through the platform.
It’s important to note that Airbnbs rarely offer the same level of service as a hotel. Things like housekeeping and cooked breakfast buffets probably won’t be part of the package if you go for a short-term apartment or house rental. For that, you’ll need to chase places like the Riu Plaza Espana. Sleek, contemporary rooms there sit right on the Gran Via roadway and come with access to a rooftop pool and sunning terrace with sweeping panoramas across the skyline of the capital. Nice.