Neighborhoods in Madrid

Many visitors want to know a little something about the neighborhoods of Madrid before they book a hotel. This link gives information about the character of each neighborhood. Madrid is not subject for the most part to violent crime and so in thinking about where to stay bear in mind that Madrid basically lacks a "red light district" in the traditional sense of the urban term.  It does have some areas prone to prostitution (a street to avoid is Calle Montera, which is where many prostitutes hang out), but almost all crime in Madrid that torurists will encounter is related to purse snatching, pickpocketing, and camera theft which can happen anywhere.

The most upscale neighborhood and therefore what is considered the safest is the Barrio Salamanca, but it is a metro ride to most of the sights and sites visitors will want to see.  This area is full of high end shops, expensive boutiques, and is very residential.  There are places to eat here, but it's fairly quiet on a Sunday as this area is more residential than touristy.

The most popular areas for people coming to visit are the area around the Plaza Santa Ana (also referred to as Huertas, or Cortes if you are renting an apartment), the area near Sol, and the area in and around the Plaza Mayor. These areas are also perfectly safe and are within walking distance of places like the Prado, the Palace, the Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen.  These areas have a lot of places to eat, and are fairly lively even late at night (which in Spain is into the wee hours of the morning).

Lavapiés is very affordable for budget travel, but is often perceived as seedy because it is an immigrant neighborhood. Full of ethnic food and small stores and boutiques, it is a place where many working class people live.  If you are looking for an area which is not touristy but still within walking distance of the Reina Sofia and other museums, this might be for you.

La Latina, the neighborhood near the Plaza Mayor, has some of the best tapas and eating in the city center.  Many people enjoy this area, but it is not the quietest nor is it the the most upscale.  However, it is an older neighborhood and close to many places tourists want to see.  This neighborhood has a mix of visitors and locals, working class and white collar folks.  It's a terrific place for seeing a great cross section of Madrid while being close to everything and having excellent places to eat.

Chueca, which is the gay neighborhood, is a very lively place, usually up until all hours.  Many clubs and much of the nightlife of Madrid is located here.  There is great eating to be had in Chueca and many boutiques and shops are located here.  It is hip, lively, fun and funky. Many people come here to enjoy the night life and while there are some tourists who stay here, it is not, strictly speaking, a touristy area. 

Malasaña is an up and coming neighborhood, known for its artists and fashion, but is often perceived as less upscale and polished compared to places like Salamanca. Decidedly untouristy, this neighborhood has a very distinct, edgy vibe to it which makes it feel young and bohemian. 

http://www.mapmagazine.com/madrid/Nei...

Here is a map which shows the neighborhoods: 

http://www.guiayturismo.com/esp/madri...

Trip Advisor allows one to screen hotels by neighborhood and price: 

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g18...

At the same time one can read traveler comments about the hotels.

For the Trip Advisor screen by neighborhood, check the following boxes:

Centro, Chamartin, Chamberi, Retiro, and Salamanca.