Madrid is the capital of Spain. It’s stylish. It’s cultural. It’s green. It’s classic. It’s modern. And it doesn’t hurt that Madrid has a warmer client because of its central location on the Iberian peninsula (that’s more than a plus!).

As you stroll through Madrid’s streets, squares and parks, you’ll discover a mix of buildings that reflect classic architecture several hundred years old as well as of modern buildings and architecture.

Madrid attracts more than 5 million business travelers each year. Perhaps part of this is because Madrid is strategically located for international meetings and events that require direct access from South America, Europe and Africa; Madrid is also has direct airline access from many U.S. cities. Another important factor contributing to Madrid’s success in the business travel market is because of Madrid’s expanded infrastructure for transportation and special events venues.

For meetings and event planning, many of Madrid’s hotels are capable of hosting a range of group sizes; however, for those interested, IFEMA is Madrid’s fairgrounds where large conventions and trade shows are held. IFEMA includes 200,000 sq. meters of exhibiting space, 12 Halls and 3 Convention and Congress Centres, among other facilities – more than 80 events are held there annually.

 

Hotels in Madrid, Spain

Madrid has more than 800 hotels with more than 44,000 guest rooms (that’s more than 86,500 hotel beds). There are 26 hotels with a five star designation and more than 145 hotels with a four star designation. So there are many options where you can be comfortable in Spain’s capital city.

– half of which are in four and five star hotels. In Madrid, you’ll find nearly 200 hotels, including more than 27,000 guest rooms and 54,000 beds – 20 are in the five star category and 105 are rated with four stars. As the Spanish capital, Madrid offers a full range of hotel choices: traditional business hotels, modern, artistic, boutique and luxury hotels that offer some of the finest service. Madrid business hotel suggestions include:

  • NH Collection Madrid Abascal
  • NH Madrid Eurobuilding
  • NH Paseo del Prado
  • Hotel Urban
  • Hotel Gran Melia Fenix
  • Hotel Melia Castilla
  • Westin Palace
  • Madrid Hilton Airport Hotel
Activities in Madrid, Spain

Madrid has more than 70 museums, 85 art galleries, 50 theaters and nearly 2,300 monuments. So whether you’re visiting or hosting an event, Madrid delivers on its promise as a cultural city.

The Prado Museum (which has more than 10,000 works of art) is Madrid’s most famous museum. Queen Sofia National Arte Centre Museum (contains 20th century art) is also somewhere you must spend a couple hours when visiting.

The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum on Paseo del Prado, is where you can view the long-term collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza and a mixture of other art on loan from around the world, seems to offer a lot of flexibility for groups wishing to host receptions within their galleries.

What’s unique about Madrid is designers and architects have created many unique spaces that incorporate traditional and new architectural elements. For example, Caixa Forum is a family cultural center that offers exhibition space, an auditorium 2,000 square meters of exhibition rooms, conference space and an auditorium that can hold up to 322 people.

Madrid also has more than 46,000 stores for shopping. You can find local designers and all the Spanish brands, but Madrid is also known as city with some of the most international brands as well. (I recommend wandering around the old town and experiencing a day of discovery.)

Business events entertainment should consider including live music – from jazz and Flamenco in Madrid. And the city is filled with a full range of options to fill spare time between meetings and receptions – including the shops of Madrid’s old town, Plaza Mayor, and to walk around the city to enjoy its parks and unique architecture.

Dining in Madrid, Spain

Madrid has more than 18,600 restaurants, bars and cafes for you to choose (even more if you add in pubs). And gastronomy is a big deal in Madrid – the city has 21 restaurants that have received between one and three Michelin star ratings.

For foodies who like to experience historic places on the road, Botin is the oldest restaurant in the world (and I need to pop my head into there the next time I visit just for that reason, too).

You can find popular tapas (consider Estado Puro) to gastronomic creations to traditional and modern Spanish dishes, even vegetarian restaurants. For a special evening, consider La Terraza de Casino (Casino de Madrid – this is not a casino).

I have to admit, San Miguel Market is one spot I visit each time I’m in Madrid. It’s a food market in a century old building made of iron and glass architecture. Inside, you stop at different stands and enjoy a variety of tapas, drinks and desserts (and fresh produce for the locals). Roughly 10 million people visit San Miguel Market each year. But don’t worry — while there’s definitely a crowd, you’re not going to be waiting in long lines.

Plateau Madrid is the other place that will catch your attention. It’s an theater that was converted into a gourmet market with live music and the balcony spaces offer up some VIP spaces for private seating areas and bars.

Like many European cities, Madrid offers a range of international restaurants and dining experiences. Seafood lovers benefit from Madrid’s central Spain location because seafood is brought in from both the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Remember to enjoy lunch and dinner with a Spanish wine. Lunch and dinner dining is on a later schedule than Americans may be used to, and make sure you’re ready for a long and leisure experience.

Logistics in Madrid

Spanish is the official language of Madrid and Spain, but English is almost a second language for many people in Madrid, especially the young and those involved in the hospitality industry.

Barajas International Airport is Madrid’s airport with more than 200 direct flights connecting to Madrid to more than 70 countries (40 million passengers each year). Iberia is the official Spanish airline and offers excellent business travel lounges. Terminal 4 (T4) opened in February 2006 and recognized for its architectural design — a flowing canopy roof structure.

RENFE is Spain’s national railway with high-speed routes connecting Madid to 30 destinations.

You also have a number of options to consider for ground transportation — private car services, taxis, shuttle services, public buses and local train.

Note: I have relied on and trust Lukman Sea many times during my visits to Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. They are an excellent private car service.

Last, but certainly not least, Madrid is one of the safest European capital cities.

Updated. Initially published August 16, 2010.