The best places to stay in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)

$

Hotel Plaza Mayor
Comfortable rooms in pale, sophisticated colors; upper floors offer views over the terra-cotta roofs of old Madrid; free Wi-Fi; “Suite del Palomar” is modern loft with private terrace; steps away from Plaza Mayor; 34 rooms. C/Atocha, 2; tel. 34 913 600 606. www.h-plazamayor.com

Hostal Santo Domingo
A low-cost hostal with a high-design attitude; tidy rooms feature latex mattresses, mood lighting, leather headboards, and embroidered pillows; friendly English-speaking owner lives on site; 18 rooms. C/Luna, 6; tel. 34 915 313 290. www.hostalsantodomingo.es

$$

Abalú
Whimsical design and post-modern colors; each of the 15 rooms uniquely decorated by Spanish designer Luis Delgado—neo-baroque, minimalist, retro; steps from Gran Vía; 15 rooms. C/Pez, 19; tel. 34 915 314 744. www.hotelabalu.com

Chic&Basic Colors
“Tiny hostal offering big ideas in pop design; each room is based on a different color with matching mood lighting and minimalist furnishings; gay-friendly.”—Raquel Sáez, assistant director, Hola.com. Ten rooms located in one of Madrid’s most popular nightlife zones. Tip: Upgrade to a suite in the back of the hotel; street-facing rooms are noisy. C/Huertas, 14; tel. 34 914 296 935.

Posada del Peine
“Vanguard style and high-tech touches in a 17th-century palace with a long Madrid history.”—Fernando Gallardo, hotel critic, El País daily newspaper. Stunning mauve and pink exterior; located on a medieval pedestrian street steps from Plaza Mayor; 69 rooms. C/ Postas, 17; tel.  34 915 238 151. www.hthoteles.com

Hotel El Prado
“Inexpensive but well-done three-star hotel; rooms are surprisingly spacious and those on the top floor feature terraces overlooking old Madrid.”—Genevieve McCarthy, director, Cellar Tours, Madrid-based luxury wine tour company. Rooms are named after Spanish wines—look for English-language books on wine in each room; 48 rooms. C/Prado, 11; tel.  34 913 690 234. www.pradohotel.com

Room Mate Óscar
Part of a chain of design-driven hotels that take style for value very seriously; futuristic lobby and hypnotically minimal rooms; located in trendy Chueca; other Madrid properties include Mario, Alicia, and Laura; 75 rooms. Plaza Vázquez de Mella, 12; tel. 34 917 011 173. www.room-matehotels.com

$$$

Catalonia Las Cortes
“Junior suites feature artisan-painted frescoes on the ceiling—it is like sleeping in someone’s palace.”—Stephen Drake-Jones, Madrid-based historian. 2006 restoration of this 18th-century palatial building left intact elegant marble columns and parquet flooring; great location between Plaza Santa Ana and the Prado; 65 rooms. C/Prado, 6; tel. 34 913 896 051. www.hoteles-catalonia.com

Hotel Meninas
“Rooms offer minimalist comfort with lots of black, gray, and white warmed up with colorful blankets and wooden accents.”—Raquel Sáez. Ideal location just steps from Plaza Oriente; 37 rooms. C/Campomanes, 7; tel. 34 915 412 805. www.hotelmeninas.es

Hotel Urban
“Cutting-edge design combines with a wealth of Egyptian artifacts to make this the most atmospheric hotel in Madrid.”—Fernando Gallardo. Glitzy, glass, ground-floor bar; chic rooftop terrace and pool; award-winning gourmet restaurant; great location between the Prado and Puerta del Sol; 101 rooms. Carrera San Jerónimo, 34; tel. 34 917 877 770. www.derbyhotels.com

Palacio San Martín
“A serene setting right in the bustling heart of town; formerly the U.S. Embassy, it retains a palatial, elegant air.”—Genevieve McCarthy. 94 rooms. Tip: Request an upper room with a view over the old city center—breathtaking at sunset. Plaza San Martín, 5; tel. 34 917 015 000.

Hotel de las Letras
Modern design paired with traditional detailing; 102 rooms; minimalist furnishings, dramatic colors, poetry etched on walls, azulejo tilework, carved wooden doors, and parquet floors; contemporary Spanish restaurant with select Japanese dishes, haute lounge, sumptuous spa. Gran Vía, 11; tel. 34 915 237 980. www.hoteldelasletras.com

$$$$

Palacio del Retiro
“Glorious early-20th-century palace converted into a luxury hotel.”—Genevieve McCarthy. 50 rooms in stunning setting; majestic central staircase, soaring stained glass windows, and marble flooring; ultramodern touches include a multicolored glowing elevator; overlooks the Retiro park, steps from Madrid’s trio of famed art museums. C/Alfonso XII, 14; tel. 34 915 237 460. www.ac-hotels.com

Hotel Puerta America
“One of the most passionate hotel experiences in the world.”—Fernando Gallardo. A-list architects—Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, Ron Arad—were given free rein to design each of the hotel’s 15 floors; 342 rooms; on-site spa, gourmet restaurant, and beautiful-people bar; located midway between the airport and the city center. Avenida de América, 41; tel. 34 917 445 400. www.hotelpuertamerica.com

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