There is a cheaper way to get from the airport to your hotel:  Use public transportation; it is fast, cheap, clean and safe. Just watch your belongings reasonably (as you would at most places with lots of people around).

1.  Take the Metro from Barajas airport to Nuevos Ministerios (17 minutes); there is direct access from all terminals (just follow the "Metro" signs), and there are two different stations: One covers Terminals 1, 2 & 3 and another is at T4.

This will cost you a total of 4.50 € (most likely) to 6 €, depending on how far is your final destination and including the 3 € Airport supplement. Immediately before entering the metro station there is an information booth (where you can ask about visitor/tourist tickets for 1 to 7 days if interested). You will see many multi-language machines in the station lobby that take cash and/or credit cards where you can buy single tickets or a "metrobus" (recommended, and widely used by locals): it is valid for any 10 metro or bus rides with a discount (12.20 €); it is also transferable, so several persons can share it - just remember to "cancel" it at the machines once per person per trip.

Remember that trips from or to the airport have a supplementary fare if using a single ticket or a "metrobus"; you can also get this "airport supplementary ticket" from vending machines at any station.

Full information about metro tickets, fares and passes (in English) is available here.

Also, this Airport Metro line (Linea 8 - Rosa/Pink) is one of the newest ones, so there are escalators and elevators to help you.

At Nuevos Ministerios you can:

  • Change lines to any other metro destination (see interactive metro information in English), no need to buy a new ticket.
  • Exit the station and get a bus (see simplified bus map for visitors, Nuevos Ministerios is in the top-centre) if you are light on luggage. "Paseo de la Castellana" metro exit is recommended for better bus access, there you can (for example) take line #27 that will take you to Colón/Cibeles/Atocha in a few minutes with its "bus only" lane. You need to get a new ticket (pay the driver) or "cancel" another trip in your metrobus (at the machines that you will see when boarding the bus): Single tickets for bus (... or metro...) within the city centre are 1.5 €.
  • Get off of the Metro line and enter Cercanías, the regional light rail line (connection is made in the same station, no need to go out to the street. Also, see the Cercanías map, Nuevos Ministerios is around the centre). In this case from Nuevos Ministerios, you can get off at Recoletos (between Colón and Cibeles), Sol, Atocha...   Nuevos Ministerios is another new stop so you will also have escalators or elevators there.  At Sol (the most recent addition to the Cercanías network) you will only have to climb one rather short stairway.   The trains from Nuevos Ministerios - Sol are on Tracks/Vias 5 and 6 while the trains from Nuevos Ministerios to Recoletos or Atocha are on Tracks/Vias 1 and 2. This will cost you 1.20 euros (more if you go to distant destinations, as Cercanías can take you to places in the Madrid Region as far as El Escorial or Aranjuez). In any case taking the cercanías for a very short trip (say, going from Nuevos Miniterios to Recoletos or to Atocha) is absolutely acceptable, but probably not your fastest choice (AND see point 3, below).

This can be done it with two pieces of rolling luggage.  Recommendation is to wear money belts and be reasonably alert but  one doesn't have to be particularly physically fit. 

2. IF your final destination is around O'Donnell street, Puerta de Alcalá, Cibeles, Recoletos/Museo del Prado or Atocha you can also take,  directly from the airport, the Express Bus Service (5,00€). But remember that traffic conditions in Madrid can be terrible, and as a general rule it is better to go underground, specially at peak hours. http://www.emtmadrid.es/lineaAeropuer...

3. AND there is a CERCANIAS train that runs from TERMINAL 4 into the city, stopping at the important main line stations of Chamartin and Atocha plus others. If wanting to take this local comfortable train to/from the other Terminal buildings you can use the free Shuttle bus that runs between all Terminals and is quite quick. 

Cercanias is regional light rail. There are no transfers and five stops including the final one at Puerta de Atocha. The trip takes 27 minutes (from Terminal 4 to Atocha, 12 minutes from T4 to Chamartín) and leaves every 30 minutes from TERMINAL 4.  Remember that no matter where you land there is a free shuttle train to TERMINAL 4. Also take into account that Terminals 1, 2 & 3 are quite near each other - but T4 is fairly far from these.

Attached is the schedule. First one, to Atocha to Aeropuerto/airport; second is Aeropuerto to Atocha. If you want to see the complete schedule just click on the one you want to see. The line you want is C-1. I am not sure of the price, but it should be under 5 euros/person. Bus is about the same, but you have traffic to contend with that can make the trip longer: redtransporte.com/madrid/…linea-c-1.html

More information about travelling from the airport can be found on AENA web site for "Adolfo Suárez - Madrid/Barajas Airport". You will also find a helpful PDF map with a diagram of the main options.

In the map (and website) you will find additional information about other bus lines (not so relevant, and therefore not mentioned here) that take you from/to the Airport from other not-so-central spots in Madrid (such as Canillejas or Avenida de América), in the Madrid region (such as Alcalá de Henares or Alcobendas) or long distance (Salamanca, Ávila...).