updated 9/18/2006 3:18:02 PM ET 2006-09-18T19:18:02

Best Historic Hotel: Inaugurated by Alfonso XIII in 1910, the Ritz (tel. 800/225-5843 in the U.S., or 91-701-67-67), the gathering place of Madrid society, is still the capital's leading luxury choice. This Edwardian hotel is mellower than ever before, the old haughtiness of former management gone with the wind -- it long ago rescinded its policy of not allowing movie stars as guests. Note: In summer a tie is no longer obligatory and dress tends to be more informal (though the hotel still draws the line at shorts). The rich and famous continue to parade through its portals; today in the lobby you're likely to encounter nearly anyone, from the secretary-general of NATO to Paloma Picasso.

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Best for Business Travelers: The concierge at the Park Hyatt Villa Magna (tel. 800/223-1234 in the U.S., or 91-587-12-34) is one of the most skillful in Madrid, well versed in procuring virtually anything a traveler could conceivably need during a trip to the Spanish capital. One floor below lobby level, this five-star hotel's business center is well stocked with access to translators, word processors, scanners, fax machines, photocopiers, and even a well-informed technology concierge. There's a branch of Hertz car rental on the premises, and enough stylish conference rooms (staffed with butlers and stocked with caviar if the nature of your business meeting calls for it) to provide a place for any sales or executive meeting.

Best for a Romantic Getaway: The Santo Mauro Hotel (tel. 91-319-69-00) opened in 1991 in a villa designed by a French architect and built in 1894 for the duke of Santo Mauro. As a sign of the times, more recent visitors have included Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. The lavish property has an ageless grace, although it has been brought up to a state-of-the-art condition. In good weather guests retreat to a beautiful garden pavilion and enjoy many facilities such as a gym and indoor pool. It's resortlike in nature, although situated in Madrid. If you can afford it, go for one of the suites with a fireplace.

Best Fashionable Hotel: A former rundown apartment house, the Hotel Villa Real (tel. 91-420-37-67) has blossomed into a fashionable address, opposite the Cortes and next to the Palace Hotel. A member of the famed Catalan owned Derby chain, this is a 19th-century building of classic French architecture. The marble bathrooms are extremely stylish and Roman mosaics are a special feature in many rooms -- fine views have earned it the name "Balcony of the Retiro." Some of the town's most important movers and shakers can be found in the cocktail bar. A chic rendezvous patronized by the cognoscenti of Spain, it's where you'd invite the duchess of Alba for tea.

Best Hotel Lobby for Pretending You're Rich: The Westin Palace Hotel (tel. 800/325-3535 in the U.S., 800/325-3589 in Canada, or 91-360-80-00), between the Prado and the Cortes, is a Victorian wedding cake of a place. To sit and people-watch in this lobby -- the grandest Belle Epoque lobby in Madrid -- is to be at the epicenter of Spanish political life. Head for the dazzling stained-glass cupola of the main rotunda lounge, and take in the fanciful ceiling frescoes and the custom-made carpets along the way.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

Best for Families: The family-friendly, chain-run Novotel Madrid (tel. 800/221-4542 in the U.S., or 91-724-76-00) on the outskirts of town is a good place for the whole clan. Rates are reasonable, and the bedrooms can easily be arranged to sleep children. There's also a pool, and the breakfast buffet is one of the most generous in Madrid. Children 15 and under stay free in their parent's room.

Best Moderately Priced Hotel: Built in 1966 and still going strong, the reasonably priced Fiesta Gran Hotel Colón (tel. 91-573-59-00) is west of Retiro Park in a relatively safe area of Madrid that's easily connected to the center by subway. It's well maintained and kept up-to-date, offering well-designed bedrooms with comfortably traditional furnishings.

Best Budget Hotel: In the very heart of Old Madrid, off the Plaza Mayor, Hostal la Macarena (tel. 91-365-92-21), has been housing readers comfortably and well -- all for an affordable price -- for decades. Surrounded by ancient buildings, the little inn is modest itself, but its welcome is warm, its staff accommodating, and its price is right.

Best Service: There are grander hotels in Madrid, but it's hard to find a staff as highly motivated, professional, and efficient as the one at the Castellana InterContinental Hotel (tel. 800/327-0200 in the U.S., or 91-310-02-00). Room service is offered around the clock, and the staff is adept at solving your Madrid-related problems. Nothing seems to make them lose their cool, even when there's a long line at the desk.

Best Location: Tryp Reina Victoria (tel. 91-531-45-00) is for those who want to be in the heart of Old Madrid, within easy walking distance of all those midtown Hemingway haunts. Dozens of the finest tapas bars are literally at your doorstep, and you can walk among the flower vendors, cigarette peddlers, and lottery-ticket hawkers, enjoying an atmosphere that's missing from the newer and more modern section of Madrid.

Best Hotel Health Club: The Ritz (tel. 800/225-5843 in the U.S., or 91-701-67-67) is not only the most historic hotel in Madrid, but it's also got a state-of-the-art fitness center on its top floor. The 533-sq.-m (1,727-sq.-ft.) gym overlooks the Prado Museum, Los Jerónimos Church, and the tree-lined Paseo del Prado. All Ritz guests have complimentary use of most of the center's services and facilities, which include English-speaking professional trainers, the latest exercise equipment, saunas, UVA rays, dressing rooms, showers, lockers, and an outside jogging trail that's open March to October.

Best Views: Often called the Waldorf-Astoria of Spain, the 26-story Crowne Plaza Madrid City Centre (tel. 91-547-12-00) has been one of Madrid's massive landmarks since 1953. From its bedroom windows you'll have views of the city skyline. Try for one of the units on the eighth floor with a balcony.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed accommodations, visit our online hotels index.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.


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