Calle Campomanes - So Much in Central Madrid

One of the best ways to get to know a city like Madrid is to stay in the center of town, smack dab in the middle of the best restaurants, shops and historic sites. Typically, doing so comes with a cost as quality hotels in central business districts are often quite pricey. On the other hand, Calle Campomanes, a curvy little street located right by the Madrid opera house, offers a reasonable and hip alternative.

Click the photo for a larger view

The alternative is the Hotel Mario, run by Room Mate Hoteles. In fact, Campomanes offers more than just a hip hotel. Along this tiny street is a great restaurant, a quirky bookshop and a couple of other lodging options.

Hotel Mario - Cozy, quirky and a relative steal in central Madrid

To begin with, we loved our stay at the Mario. The size is totally manageable with a labyrinth of rooms spread across three floors. The design of the hotel is clean and modern with a few surreal touches thrown in for good measure. This is eminently noticeable in the hotel's common areas as well as in each guest rooms. Service at the front desk is friendly and attentive and the included buffet breakfast is more than satisfying. The breakfast room is a bright granny smith green with Starck-like chairs and bright windows overlooking the street. Rooms are "cozy" but comfortable and have nice modern bathrooms. Our room had a tiny balcony that opened to Campomanes. Rates are reasonable and can at times be secured for under 100 Euro... a true bargain.

The building at Campomanes 5 - just across the street - is the home of a hip restaurant, Chic Restaurant and Bar, and a bookshop, Libros Madrid.

Chic Restaurant Offers Style and Substance

The first thing you'll notice at Chic is the restaurant's uniform pink, white and gray color scheme. Stylish but comfortable. What will keep you there is the restaurant's excellent food - be it the restaurant's 11,50 EUR prix fixe lunch menu or their dinner fare. The prix fixe includes a primo, a segundo, a postre (dessert) or a coffee and bread. I had the bean and shrimp potage and calamari in squid ink with rice. My wife had the ensalada Mediterranea and the sauteed chicken breast with grilled vegetables. Tasty and well-priced.

Libros Madrid, Next Door to Chic

Libros Madrid is just next door and offers rare books, first editions and other antique titles. You have to ring a buzzer to enter the store. Once there, don't be surprised if the owner watches you like a hawk while milling at his writing desk with a cigarette in hand. The books are stacked from floor-to-ceiling with countless volumes, mostly in Spanish. Also available are antique Ottoman prints, vintage photographs, postcards and other paper ephemera.

Campomanes also offers food worth visiting at La Viuda Blanca and the four-star Hotel Meninas. Nearby are small Greek and Chinese restaurants, a paella restaurant by the opera, a metro stop (two minutes away - so convenient!) and Calle de Arenal. Budget-minded travelers can stay at the Los Amigos Backpackers' Hostel. So much, so close by. If you can get a room at the Mario or at the Meninas, you'll be glad you did.

No comments: