28013 Travel Guide
Which is probably why we were so excited during our recent stay at Room Mate Laura in Madrid. Because, of course, we can barely stay in a nice hotel without a fancy umbrella being thrust at us by the concierge or the cupboard. But an offer of a raincoat? That’s a new one. A thoughtful one, too.
We're working out of Madrid today, staying at the Hotel El Coloso. We're a bit hard-pressed to say anything good or bad about the room, the service or the location, mostly because we're so floored by the WiFi Fee: 17 euros, or $26, for 24-hours worth of access.
That's only if you want to surf the Internet and instant message people ("OMFG srsly? $26 for IM??!!?" is how we imagine those real-time chats will go.) But if you want to branch out and go wild with e-mail attachments, downloading files and opening a VPN? Well, that will cost you 22 euro ($34) for a mere 24 hours worth of surf time. Plus, this is a ticking clock, people--not one that deducts how much time you use in one sitting and then saves the rest for later.
To be fair, there is free WiFi in the lobby, which the seemingly embarrassed front desk clerk suggested we use when we inquired about Internet access. Perhaps we're just high maintenance, but when we have a day's worth of work to do, we want to be in the confines of our hotel room. And so we ponied up the Amex to the Internet provider, Swisscom.
We know upscale hotels have a penchant for ripping off guests when it comes to WiFi, but this hotel certainly isn't any Four Seasons. If you have a more horrendous story of WiFi extortion, share it with us in the comments. Don't be shy.
Good hotel WiFi isn't always found where you'd expect. In relaxed Spain, our expectations aren't too high, but at the Best Western Arosa in Madrid, they're very proud of offering free wireless internet access throughout the entire hotel.
Judging by some recent guest reviews, the Best Western Arosa has only one major drawback--it's quite noisy, and you can hear other guests, the street, and even some bathroom noises. But everything else is pretty much okay, with a good central location, good service and some recently-updated rooms, and the price is reasonable too, averaging under $200 a night. Curiously, they also have 16 Japanese-style rooms, which complement their well-regarded Japanese restaurant.
But beyond the normal hotel basics, quite a few people have been enthusiastic about the free WiFi service. The hotel itself advertises it multiple times on its website and previous guests suggest that alone is a good enough reason to pick the Arosa. And unlike the Japanese instructions in Hiroshima, this Japanese-themed Spanish hotel doesn't seem to make it too hard for guest to get online.
[Ed. Note: This is the Bad Rate in our Good Rate/Bad Rate feature. The screenshot above was taken on June 27, 2006 and rates are subject to change. Enjoy.]
The Emperor Hotel Madrid has a good location meaning that it's within walking distance to all things that you would want to see in the city.
But according to one guest, the location also works against the hotel.
beware of the neighborhood. Although it is in the heart of it all, walking distance to the Sol and Mayor, crime is everywhere. I was robbed in the first hour I was there. I have been going to Europe for over 25 years including backing around Africa, its bad. When the hotel has an armed guard at the door, it should tell you something.
With rates starting at 121 Euros for a single bed, this hardly seems worth it.
· Emperor Hotel Madrid reviews [TripAdvisor]
The NY Times checked in on the fairly new (six months) Hotel Meninas in Madrid, named after the famous Velázquez painting "which hangs in the Prado and depicts the child, Infanta Margarita, daughter of Philip IV."
The hotel has taken its namesake very seriously by imprinting the image on everything from the hotel's pillows to the showers which sounds just a tad scary to us.
The location is central to the city's club scene, but the hotel had the foresight to invest in soundproofing, allowing guests to sleep in peace. Yet the clientele is mostly business travelers and the hotel's personality seems to suffer because of this:
The lobby feels like a lounge that hasn't opened yet -- hip but crisp and untried. The gray, black and white theme is accented by golds and turquoise. It is, ostensibly, a bar, but we never actually observed anyone drinking.
Originally, the hotel was a 19th century town house but now has 37 hotel rooms, decked out in some more minimalist decor colors of black, white and gray. However, they do spice up the bedding with a flourescent pink or green blanket.
Each room has flat screen TVs and DVD players, allowing guests access to a library of 150 DVDs. In addition there's wireless and DSL access but room service is for dinner only.
Overall, it sounds like this hotel still hasn't found its footing. Maybe the painting is putting everyone off. Or the fact that the breakfast buffet gets depleted too fast.