I discovered this hotel during my trip to Madrid in June 2012, while walking along the pedestrian path by the Río Manzanares. This is a very long and charming pedestrian and bike path on each side of the river, which I also discovered that day, although I have been going to Madrid since 1963!
When I approached last year and saw that this hotel had four stars, I hesitated to get in and ask for the rates because that’s not the kind of hotel I usually go to.
However, I was very surprised when they said that the rate would be under 70 Euros, which is an EXTRAORDINARY BARGAIN in Europe for a four star hotel!
Several TA contributors say that this place is overrated at four stars. Maybe they only go to Hilton, Hyatt or Sofitel hotels... I don't.
I can only say that, COMPARED TO ALL 2 AND 3 STAR HOTELS where I have slept in the past 25 years, THIS PLACE IS A PALACE!
The three star Best Western “Scala” in Frankfurt, where I slept in June 2012, had no restaurant and NO lobby at all, except for a front desk counter and a few feet where they squeezed a computer that you must consult standing. In here, there is a huge lobby that can hold 200 persons and sit about fifty, and a big restaurant in premises. Those features alone should justify an extra star compared to the German BW.
On the other hand, if room 816, which I was supposed to have originally at this Celuisma, was only slightly bigger than their small room 74, this one had a nice terrace over the "Príncipe Pío" train station with a wide open view over the Royal Palace.
Certainly, I expected to find at least (at least!) a refrigerator and, maybe, also a microwave in a four star hotel, especially if we consider that ice machines are totally unknown in Europe and in South America. In the US, the cheapest motel has at least one ice machine, and good hotels have one on every floor. Not so overseas! In this four star hotel, you must beg for a glass with four or five (never more!) ice cubes, and the three star Best Western Scala in Frankfurt refused to give me a single ice cube simply because they just didn't have any! But it's true that you never put ice in a beer...
At any high end Choice Hotel such as Clarion, Quality or even the midrange Comfort Inn, you will find a refrigerator + a microwave + an iron with an ironing board + an electric coffee pot in every room, all that for $50 to $80 US including a good buffet breakfast. You will find NONE of those in this four star hotel, but this is Europe!!!
With a refrigerator, a teapot and a microwave in the room, I would certainly have given a score of five instead of four to this EXCELLENT PLACE.
The good news is that Mrs. ZAPATERO, "Adjunta a Dirección", to whom I complained about this, told me that starting next July, they will be adding a refrigerator in every room. I will see next year, when I return to Madrid, with the good Lord willing.
Few hotels have refrigerators in the old continent, and what all European Best Western call "minibar" is in fact a money maker machine full of expensive bottles for sale without an ice compartment (and NO ice machine in the hotel, even though they are part of the BW chain!) and no space left for you to house your Camembert!
And the only place where I have seen a microwave outside of the US is at the "Quality Suites Bibliothèque Francois Mitterrand" in Paris (the real one, not the one in Texas!) for which I wrote a review here, in Trip Advisor.
As for the iron and the ironing board that you find in US hotels at $50, you will only find them in your dreams if you go overseas! You won't even see them at the Sheraton Four Points in Montevideo, for which I also posted a review some time ago.
II) A BARGAIN UNDER 70 € per night (+ 11 € for breakfast)
ROOM 853, which I finally got on Saturday May 11, and Sunday, May 12, 2013 thanks to Mr. Felix Romero (a smart employee who knows how to win a new customer!), is HUUUGE by European standards.
As in all evolved hotels, the room key is a credit card, which you do NOT have to leave at the front desk like one of TA contributors, who was shocked by the clerk's surprise when she tried to leave the card key at the reception!
It has an ENTRANCE bigger than the one of room 735 of the Sheraton Four Points Los Angeles LAX (for which I also posted a review right here, in TA) but it's also better, because it has a nice bench, which can be used as a first luggage rack. It also has a small desk with two drawers and a ceiling light right above. You will also find a big mirror that will send your image back, from top to toes.
This entrance alone is much bigger than many "single" rooms where I have slept in London since the 1960s for the price of a suite in the US! There is also a BIG CLOSET with 9 large, thick, real, mobile hangers. Usually, there are ten in this type of hotel, but some previous guest must have borrowed the missing one...
THE BATHROOM is bigger than the Four Points one in LAX, with one of the three cleanest tubs I have ever seen, but not as large as the coconut white tub of the Best Western "Hotel de France" in Bourg-en-Bresse (France) that I also commented here, in June 2012: an outstanding value for money in that gastronomic French town.
There is what we call a "telephone shower" in France, with a long hose, much more convenient than the fixed wall showers that you find in most US hotels.
It also has a long, narrow, marble shelf above the big hand basin, very useful to put your airline amenity kit and your transistor: Spanish Classical radio station is 96.5 FM, for the "happy few" who still love that kind of music... Finally, this bathroom has a CLEAN BIDET, something unknown in US hotels.
THE ROOM ITSELF is almost as big (not quite but almost!) as the one I had at the Sheraton Four Points in LAX. BUT unlike their big king bed, in here there are twin beds of only 90 centimeters each. However, it has two large and comfortable club chairs + a nice desk with an LCD "Sharp" TV on it. This TV has side Composite connectors + all other connectors (Component, HDMI, etc) accessible on the back. Next to the desk, there is another large bench which can also be used as a second luggage rack.
Naturally, it has AC, which in here is a central, silent system with manual temperature regulator, instead of an individual unit that you find in most Choice Hotels in the US, some of them with a digital temperature selector.
Another plus is that this room has LOTS OF LIGHTS, although only 2 AC outlets under the luggage rack and none close to any of the beds.
Last but not least, it has a BIG TERRACE with a square table and two plastic arm chairs, with a WIDE OPEN GREAT VIEW over the "Casa de Campo" and the "Río Manzanares"
III) EXCELLENT LOCATION
Since my first trip to Madrid in June 1963, this is the first time that I sleep elsewhere than around Plaza de España and La Gran Vía.
However, this place is also VERY WELL SITUATED because my GPS announced only 1.2 kilometer from my usual hotel, which means that it’s only one kilometer (= 0.6 mile) from PLAZA DE ESPAÑA. And when I opened Trip Advisor in my Samsung Media Player, it showed only 0.7 mile from here to my favorite Cuban restaurant "Cuando Salí de Cuba", that I also commented during my June 2012 trip to Madrid.
As for the ROYAL PALACE, it is only a half mile away and I walked that distance in twenty minutes. Also, the only entrance to the "Jardines del Campo del Moro" is a couple of blocks from this "Florida Norte" hotel.
Furthermore, TRAIN AND SUBWAY STATION "Príncipe Pío" is just across the street and there are SEVERAL BUSSES that stop AT THE DOOR, and some others a few yards away from the hotel entrance, going to Atocha, Opera, Plaza de España, Callao, etc.
In my review about the PRADO MUSEUM, posted here in June 2012, I explained how to come from Barajas airport by PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION by taking bus 200 and connecting to Circular C1 or C2 on "Avenida de America" for only 1.50 € on each bus. Well, bus C1 will take you to the corner of this hotel (bus stop "Paseo Virgen del Puerto"), and C2 leaves you even closer, on the same sidewalk, about half a block away: just get off at bus stop "GLORIETA SAN VICENTE".
I also explained in that article about the Prado Museum that you can have FREE WIFI ON PUBLIC BUSSES in Madrid, something that we don't have in Paris or in Miami!
And if you come by subway, the station is right across the street, as I said.
In this case, you should buy a DAY PASS for 8.40 € (a/o May 2013) which includes the extra airport fee of 3 €, and will allow you to take as many busses and subways as you want until midnight, while a OW ticket just to go from the airport to the center, will cost 5 € alone. However, as in Paris, London and everywhere else except for Las Vegas, your pass will become a pumpkin at midnight, like Cinderella's carriage!
This day pass will also allow you to take the RENFE train (right after the subway entrance on Terminal 4), which will take you straight to PRINCIPE PIO train station, right across this hotel, in 40 minutes.
Naturally, if you come by bus, it will take you longer; but since all US flights land in the morning and you won't be able to get into your room until 12, 1, or 2 pm, you have plenty of time to enjoy the ride.
FOOD is plentiful all around. On the same "Paseo de la Florida" there are several restaurants, most of them with a nice covered terrace on the wide sidewalk and a cheap lunch set menu for under 15 Euros.
And if you cross the street, you will see a nice SHOPPING CENTER over two levels with more than a dozen eateries (McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, etc.) and coffee shops; I had an excellent espresso in one of them called "Café & Te" for 1.25 €, but there is also a Starbucks at 1.60 € for those who prefer to pay more for the same thing...
A LAUNDROMAT to do your laundry yourself is also close.
Unless you are wealthy enough (and there is no such thing as a wealthy professor!) to pay 1.50 € for each pair of socks + 2.10 € for each brief + 3.10 € for each T-shirt + 4.20 € for each shirt (that's a total of 10.90 € per day, = 76.30 € per week or $99.27 US, according to the hotel's price list in the room...) you need a LAUNDROMAT!
The problem is that I only know two of them in central Madrid. In Paris, like in Miami Beach, you will see a Laundromat every few blocks but NOT in Madrid!
One of them is at the end of "Calle de los Libreros", by "La Gran Via". That place is fully automatic without a single soul around to help you in case of problem. It is also the most expensive at 11 € (almost $14.50 US!) to wash and dry one machine: 1 € for soap + 5 € to wash + 5 € to dry. In Paris I paid 5 € to do the same thing a week earlier!
The second one, where I went, is on 8 "Plaza de los Herradores", a small square half way between "Plaza Mayor" and "Opera", a couple of blocks from each one. BUS 25 will take you from this hotel to the Opera in less than five minutes. You then take "Calle Arenal" for half a block, turn right on "Calle de las Fuentes" and walk uphill one block. This Laundromat is on your right hand side, after a small café.
In here, I only paid 0.70 € for soap + 5 € to wash + 1 € for 6 minutes in the dryer, but it took 3 € to dry my cloth completely. That's 8.70 € total, which converts to $11.32 a/o May 13, 2013. I know, I know; I only pay $1.50 + $1.50 to wash and dry in Miami Beach but this is Europe!
If you need to iron, there is a board in a corner, and you will pay 2 € for 15 minutes rent and do it yourself. And, if you need help, the owner is next door, in the dry clean, unlike the other place, which is totally automatic with no help around, like in Paris.
IN SHORT, at less than 70 € for one person (+ 11 € for breakfast) this is an OUTSTANDING VALUE FOR MONEY in an EXCELLENT LOCATION..
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Florida Norte Hotel is in the city centre, close to the Palacio Real and the main accesses to Madrid. High capacity, elegant and sober decoration. With an excellent service and a warm team prepared to make you feel at home. At the hotel we offer you a private garage, boutiques, money exchange, etc. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Celuisma Florida Norte Madrid