I have been coming to Madrid since I was a student here in the early 80s. I found Hostal Olga in 2006 on an extended trip and have returned many times since. I stay for a week to 12 days at a time. This trip, 12 days! It is in a secure, nice area on a side street. You´re in your own little, quiet corner of Madrid but still in the center and only seconds away from everything. The Courts (the Capitol building of the Spanish govt., Senate, etc.) is right in front with security cameras and guards on the street. Around the corner is the wonderful café Casa de Manolo (have your coffee here between 10 and 11 am and you´re rubbing elbows with government players) and facing that is the beautiful Zarzuela Theatre.
Before I say more about Hostal Olga first, please note the difference between a hostal / hostel: Hostal in Spanish is a small family run hotel; not quite B&B. They are all very basic, maybe somewhat dated, but each with their own "feel" if not "charm." Maybe a bit "kitschy" but I get a kick out of that. A hostel, like we know it (backpackers lodging - shared dorm rooms with bunk beds), is called an albergue. An hostal, like Hostal Olga, is the most affordable option after a hostel (comfortable, clean, most with private, en-suite bathrooms.) At a Spanish hostal, one also gets closer to the true Madrid the rest live in.
At Hostal Olga, the rooms here are fairly plain/simple with basic, inexpensive but functional furnishings, clean and comfortable with high tray ceilings and moldings. A big thing for me is always the bathroom and shower (water pressure and hot water) I get a great, strong, hot shower here. Since each room has its own bathroom, they are a small but efficient uses of space.The armoires are sufficient with a mix of leftover hangers. I have noticed over the years that they keep things up, freshening the paint, putting in new floors in the rooms and, recently, new flat panel TVs. The only 2 things I would really change would be the lighting (flourescent) and better hangars. You get basic little pads of soap; so, if you like, bring your own brand (I don´t, they´re good enough) and your shampoo. I am always comfortable here and feel safe here. The staff doesn´t speak much English but it´s worth picking up the basics phrases (you should do that anyway) to stay at places like this and have a better experience during your visit, in general.
Overall, these minor sacrifices compare to staying at larger, more expensive hotels are worth the price difference. I do not feel I´ve sacrificed comfort, convenience, or safety. In general. Please, don´t expect what you get at home and you won´t be disappointed. It´s just different. If you want it to be like home, don´t travel!
Over the years and after many visits to Madrid, I have stayed at a few different hostals to which I never returned, each time moving on to try another for one reason or another (noise, cleanliness, etc.) but happy with the value.
Last notes: Madrid is a very large and, therefore, noisy city, bustling with life. Anyplace in the center or old Madrid you will have varying degrees of noise. If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs, no matter how much you pay for a hotel. It is best not to stay as close to the nightlife because is goes on for hours and people will be returing to their rooms very late, very drunk, and making lots of noise when you want to sleep. You can ask for interior rooms for noise reduction. There are plenty of public works projects and construction going on, police and emergency vehicles, etc. Also, iIt´s a different culture (that´s why you´re here, right?) and Europeans are not as "spoiled" as we are. They do more for themselves than we do and don´t expect to be pampered; therefore, people may come off as abrupt. They are glad to help, if you ask, and the more you put into it, the more friendly you will find them to be. Try! That´s true for everything in life!
So, if you want to visit Madrid but are holding off because of budget, don´t. Try out Hostal Olga. I know I´ll be back again. BTW, I don´t get a discount or free nights for saying this. They don´t even know I¨m posting. How could you discount these rates, anyway?
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