Staying In Madrid Can Be Expensive Except For When It Is Free

Last Updated on October 7, 2023

Madrid is expensive. Spain is one of the hottest and most sought-after tourist destinations in the entire world and the heightened cost of living there certainly reflects it. Booking accommodations in the capital can be pricey and a decent room during the peak tourist season usually doesn’t come cheap. With Madrid’s housing prices being as costly as they are, Jorge and I aimed to book a budget-friendly room on AirBnB. We found a mildly-expensive-but-doable room to stay in at the CENTER of Madrid for just under a week. I couldn’t imagine being in a better location! Let me show you where we stayed on a map of Madrid- I’ve circled it in red.

Sol is at the center of Madrid and it’s a HIGHLY desirable part of the city to be in. For us, the cost to stay there was about the equivalent of what we would have paid in a hostel so we opted to do this instead. Even with the fantastic location, it was still one of the least expensive rooms available on the website. I think that is because even though we had a private room, it was in a shared building with other rooms being rented out to other guests. Our room had only had the bare essentials.

If you haven’t tried using AirBnB before and you’re interested in checking it out you can sign up here and receive a $40 promotional discounted credited to your first stay!

(Update: Sorry, Airbnb ended their referral program for travel bloggers so my links no longer work)

In terms of the location, it really felt like we were conveniently positioned near everything: cafes, stores, supermarkets, places to shop, restaurants, public parks, famous landmarks, you name it. I couldn’t be in Madrid without revisiting the incredible Chocolatería San Ginés for some churros con chocolate. It was only a short walk away so let’s just say we went back more than once! Staying in the heart of the city center of Madrid was an experience, unlike anything I could have ever imagined!

We didn’t need to rely on public transportation all that much since we could easily walk to most of the places we needed to go. That is one thing I really love about Spain and Europe as a whole. Something I found really lovely about Madrid was that they have left behind the LGBT-friendly pedestrian crossing signals following World Pride in 2017. I love that they still shine every day. I wish New York City had something like that!

In regards to our AirBnB, when we first arrived at it, I immediately began to scope it out for any potential teaching spaces. There was this odd flower-arrangement hanging from the wall that I locked my eyes on. It was literally a square strip of turf hanging from a hook with flowers and leaves sticking off of it. I decided to try teaching in front of the faux-greenery thinking some grass and nature would help bring a bit of life into my classroom. I think it actually just looked like I was creepily hiding in the bushes in the woods.

Later in the week, Jorge was feeling curious and tried removing the random hanging garden from its hinge to peak behind it. As he took it off the wall, we both stared in surprise at what we saw growing behind it. While the fake garden always felt extraordinarily out of place and random, we were even more surprised when we realized it was nothing more than a cover-up for a moldy wall.

At first, we were going to ignore the mildew but with the effort that had been taken to mask something that can be a health problem for many people, it didn’t sit well with either of us. The way the mold/mildew was covered up like that almost somehow felt deceitful as guests. Jorge tried contacting the host to report what we saw. The host was both understanding and apologetic about it. Our time in that AirBnB quickly came to an end and Jorge received a full refund for the time we had spent there. The host agreed the stuff growing on the wall should be remediated.

(For the record, I wanted to share this story because it is the sheer truth about what happened in our case. I was reluctant to post anything about it because I do not condone the act of looking for problems to complain about in hopes of getting discounts/refunds. Many AirBnB hosts work very hard to keep their homes in good shape and to make sure their guests are fully satisfied. This was just one exception where we felt like the host seriously did not care about us and it really showed in the details. It’s almost like a question of morality and maybe desperation as hosts. Yes, cheap options are good for us to have as consumers… but where do we draw the line? When are the general conditions no longer acceptable?)

I don’t think a refund is what either of us were expecting from the message we sent but that was what ultimately ended up happening. Even though we no longer had an AirBnB in Madrid to stay in, we could not yet leave the city. While I was traveling with completely flexible dates, Jorge still needed to be in Madrid to search for a flat for his upcoming academic year in Madrid. Jorge reached out to a few of his friends for help and that is when our couchsurfing days in Madrid began. We didn’t know where we’d be or for how long because it was going to be entirely dependent on how long it took for Jorge to find a place in Madrid to live.

Pointers To Save Money On AirBnB

  • Sign up for AirBnB and immediately receive a $40 promo code.
  • Search for homes on the skirt of major cities.
  • Travel during off-peak season.
  • Book well in advance for a better selection of homes.


    1. The Rocky Safari

      Right? That’s what we were saying! It felt so shady how they simply tried to hide it behind some “decor.” I’m pretty sure they may have even attempted to paint over it a few times.

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The Rocky Safari