Review: AC Hotel Carlton, Madrid, Spain

The AC Hotel Carlton, Madrid Spain became my “go to” property in Madrid for quick stopovers. It was conveniently located next to Madrid Atocha train station, which can take you almost anywhere in the country. The hotel is also within reasonable walking distance of most major sights.

This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: AC Hotel Carlton, Madrid, Spain

This report describes our first stay at the AC Hotel Carlton. For a more recent stay, please see this report of our stay in a Junior Suite at the AC Hotel Carlton.

Booking and Getting there:

I had booked the AC Hotel Carlton for the simple reason that it was inexpensive, and close to Atocha train station; indeed it was only one block away. When it came time to booking a place, it was a Marriott vs Starwood situation. These companies were wholly separate at the time of our trip. Marriott won, simply because they had eight properties available to choose from versus Starwood’s two properties. We were in on a regular rate at 95€ per night for a four day stay.

We hopped a taxi to town as I had given up on navigating the subways with a broken handle suitcase.

Arriving to the Hotel:

My initial impression of the neighborhood was that it was shabby; graffiti through lots of the streets,, neglect through decay, and all that a run down neighbourhood entails. As we approached the hotel, further madness. I wondered who had designed the entranceway? The only access was through a step up, a small revolving door, and down two steps with not a ramp in sight. Hardly easy access for those with suitcases! The lobby was a little run down as well. It did not leave me with a great first impression. 

AC Hotel Carlton, Madrid Atocha
Entry AC Hotel Carlton Madrid Atocha

On check in, we were given top floor corner room based on expired Marriot Silver Elite card. After a twenty minute wait, our room was made available at 10:30 AM. This was much appreciated after our 8 AM flight arrival into Barajas. 

The rooms were decorated into a wood theme – traditional décor. It was recently refurbished with laminate flooring. The bathroom was large enough for two people to stand in. 

The bed was slightly firm. The room itself was not inspiring to spend a lot of time in, however, both our bags were able to be on the luggage stand / chair and even with them open, there was room to move around the room comfortably, which was unusual for Europe. 

The view was also nice from the top floor, with peak a boo views to the street.

One of the best features was a complimentary non-alcoholic mini bar containing tonic water, mineral water, Coca Cola, Fanta lemon, with additional room in the fridge to store a bottle of wine. It was a great feature to have after a hot day. There was also an “Open” Grocery store two blocks down the street where water, snacks and basic wine could be purchased.

We also happened to stay here for one additional night, prior to getting our flight back home to the Americas. On that stay, we ended up with a darker inside room. I took some photos but the room was virtually identical – just darker with less natural light. Our stay experience on the second day was identical.

Eating breakfast in the neighbourhood:

We didn’t happen to indulge in the hotel restaurant on this visit. I did happen to get a robust breakfast in the neighbourhood immediately around the Madrid Atocha neighbourhood. I managed to get in some Huevos estrellados or Huevos rotos, defined as any of a number of dishes involving eggs fried in a large amount of olive oil or any other oil. In Madrid, huevos estrellados is a dish based on a pan-fried egg with a liquid yolk, accompanied by French fries, some kind of meat. The dish is served hot, immediately after plating.

Blackboard menus
Huevos Estrellados served at the counter

It’s great to be able to get a whole bunch of meals near the hotel for not too much money.

The Bottom Line:

The AC Hotel Carlton Madrid Atocha had it’s plusses and minuses. It’s a pretty economical hotel that is conveniently placed. It’s conveniently located to Madrid Atocha Train Station and there is free wifi in lobby. It’s not all great however, the hotel has a difficult entry and exit for those of you with bags. While the location next to Madrid Atocha train station is an advantage, it’s also a disadvantage as there are no great restaurants or tapa bars in area. You’re walking about 10 minutes to get to decent food that is not in a local tavern or cafeteria.

I’d stay easily here again and we’ve stayed here three separate times as a “one nighter”. We would probably look elsewhere if given the opportunity. This was mostly because of the neighborhood. The hotel itself was perfectly functional in a 3 star range.

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