“A young, hip and immensely friendly hotel with a big slice of Pop-Arty attitude, just round the corner from Madrid’s buzzy Opera district”
You’ll be greeted with an easy smile by an upbeat staff member in the jazzy reception area. Stripy-lino corridors with low-lit coloured-perspex panel lighting lead to Mario’s astonishing bedrooms, decorated with uplifting colour schemes and a cocktail of Pop-Arty ‘head walls’ - floor to ceiling panels behind the beds. The hotel has a growing following among thespians, musicians and switched-on business folk alike.
- We loved the Room Mate philosophy: to make you feel as if you were visiting a friend, in this case the eclectic, arty and humorous music-lover Mario
- Mario’s bright, easy-going staff were chosen for attitude rather than professional qualifications, helping create the home-from-home mood
- It's a great area, close to the Teatro Real, the Plaza Mayor and the myriad bars of La Latina district
- During our 2014 revisit, we found ourselves to be quite surprised by just how quiet Mario is for a city-centre hotel
- Great value for a centrally based bolthole
- Breakfast is the only meal on offer, but the fabulous Il Particolare Italian restaurant is just across the street and there are numerous other restaurants within walking distance
- Space is at a premium in the shower rooms (no shelving for your toiletries), and we’ve had reports that water pressure isn’t great; ask for a room with a bath
- Some rooms don't have much natural light
- It’s a bit of a hike from this part of town to the Prado and Reina Sofia galleries; but you’re just yards from the Opera house, the Royal Palace and the metro
- Not for those who enjoy more traditional, simplistic design
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Breakfast only; restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Mario’s 54 rooms and suites are of the sort that raise a smile and an eyebrow when you step in. Designer Tomás Alía has decorated the rooms with a mix of bright colours - red, orange, green and blue - offset by plain white walls and bedding, and dark carpeting. Each room’s focal point is a floor-to-ceiling head wall behind the bed. These have either floral or geometric patterns with soft light filtering through translucent cut-outs. The mood created is soft and intimate, and each panel is a work of art in its own right. Sliding mirrored doors on wardrobes are both practical and stylish. Philippe Starck-style lamps look ‘just right’, as do flat-screened plasma TVs. Awaiting you on your angular bedside table is a copy of the declaration of human rights (it’s there to remind you that we’re all equal!)
Single Standard rooms, which are in the older part of the building, have small shower rooms with free-standing sinks and not much in the way of shelf space; they can be occupied by 2, but are definitely better suited to single occupancy. Double Standards are slightly larger and some benefit from balconies, while Executive Rooms have the boldest headboards and all come with balconies. Our favourite rooms, however, were the 3 huge Junior Suites, which are wonderfully bright and have lovely views over the picturesque street of Campomanes.
Bathrooms have been decorated in a quieter palette of grey and white and have swish stainless-steel fittings and free-standing sinks set on dark grey marble slabs. In the suites, which are larger with high ceilings, the sink area has been incorporated into the bedroom itself.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
The breakfast room at Mario is another flight of decorative fancy. Small square-topped tables with perspex bucket chairs are illuminated by natural light that comes flooding in from 3 high windows. This is reflected off the white and apple green walls by perspex pannels, which have cut-out floral motifs. The effect is delightful.
Breakfast (extra cost) is a big buffet, laid up in the annex of the dining room. There are the usual cereals, juices and yoghurts as well as croissants, pains au chocolat and fruit and cereals. Cheeses and cold meats are also on offer, along with a selection of hot dishes including Spanish omelette, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out. Just across the road from Mario is Il Particolare, which serves exceptional Italian food. But you are in Madrid, and this is a great part of town for more trad castellano cuisine. If you prefer cosy and intimate eateries book a table at Taberneros and choose from an impressive list of raciones and a wine list as long as your arm. You’re also within walking distance of another Madrid institution, Lucío, with one of the city’s finest tapas menus. And if you’ve got money to burn, 2 top-end restaurants are just round the corner: the Café de Oriente next to the Palacio Real and the Taberna del Alabardero, close to the Opera house. Both offer superb Spanish cuisine.
- Restaurants nearby
- Take a 5-minute stroll to the exquisite Plaza Mayor. At the heart of Madrid’s historical centre this elegant 17th-century square was once the stage for bullfights, public executions and autos de fe. Nowadays the main interest is people-watching over a beer or a coffee from one of its many cafés
- The vast Royal Palace (Palacio Real) remains the official residence of the Spanish royal family even though they have long since debunked to the more manageable Zarzuela Palace. Many of the 2,000 frescoed rooms and chandeliered halls are open to the public, and the landscaped gardens are a great place to unwind after your visit
- The Teatro Real is Madrid’s most famous musical venue, staging operatic and classical music performances as well as those of jazz and ballet
- Working convent Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales houses an award-winning museum: frescoes, paintings, tapestries, sculptures, woodcarvings and liturgical silverware are on display
- Madrid is home to 3 of Europe’s greatest collections of paintings. You’d need several days to do justice to the extraordinary triumvirate of the Thyssen, the Reina Sofia and the Prado galleries. Absolute must-sees include Picasso's 'Guernica', 'Las Meninas' by Velázquez, and huge collections of El Greco and Goya’s finest work
- The Barrio de Huertas is a labyrinthine quarter of narrow streets stuffed with bars, restaurants and quirky little corner shops. Be sure to find time for a beer at one of the cervecerias in the leafy square of Santa Ana, one of Hemingway’s favourite hang-outs
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Children are welcome at Mario. Extra beds and cots are provided on request. But remember that Mario’s rooms are by no means huge so if your budget allows, you’d be best to book an extra twin adjacent to your own.
Family friendly accommodation:
Only the Junior Suites can fit an extra bed or baby cot.