A Tale of Two Cities and Two Hotels

Blog Post created by placestoseeandgo on Sep 27, 2019

Just got back from Lisbon, Portugal and Madrid, Spain. We had an initial two day stay in Lisbon (I was paying cash) as I used a travel package to fly in and out of Lisbon from Boston (enough miles for business class to Lisbon).  We got to the hotel from airport,  we hired a Shared Van Service for 20 Euros, and got to the hotel around mid-Afternoon.  I had used mobile check in and my room was available on arrival. Did not receive an upgrade, but had access to the Concierge Lounge.  The hotel was a high rise with 18 floors and we were on the 10th.  The hotel was very much what most of us expect with a wide open lobby foyer, a bar, a comfortable sitting area where you can relax after a day of traveling, the registration check in area, the concierge and a guest relation. The concierge lounge was off this area as well.  The lounge was setup more like a small restaurant, table to sit and have something to eat/drink, both inside and outside overlooking the pool which was one story below.  The hotel was about 5 miles, 8 km from the downtown area and to take the Metro required walking about 15 minutes to nearest station. Once we figured out what tickets to purchase the ride on Metro was simple and we were downtown in about 15 minutes. Spent two days there, had a city walking tour and got us ready for our return.


Two days later, we are off to Madrid, Spain.  I got 2 round trip tickets for us (my wife and myself) $200.00 each and we flew out around noon time. Although, I could have taken the Metro to the airport, the 15-minute walk to the Metro would have been a challenge with one suitcase and two backpacks. As it turns out, taking a taxi from the hotel or Uber, and the cost was less than 12 Euros. 


Flew into Madrid (Madrid is an hour earlier) and as you can guess, I did take the Metro from the airport. The Metro station is right at the airport and we found a customer service kiosk that was manned by real people and they helped us purchase the Metro tickets.  Got two Metro cards for 60 Euros which were good for 5 days and unlimited travel in Zone A (basically the downtown area including our trip from the airport). As you can tell, I am of fan of taking the Metro systems in whatever city I visit and we make our way down to the Metro stop called “Callao”. This required making two connection but the Metro Maps are very good and clear as to where we had to go and in what direction. Anyhow, we make it down there, and come out into the Callao Plaza, get our bearings and the hotel (Marriott Aloft) is a minute away. We walk to the hotel and check in is on the 3rd floor.  Our room is available and located on the 9th floor, but  I do not get an upgrade (I was using points for our stay). Not sure if they had suites, but on the 11th Floor there is  a roof deck bar/restaurant and a lap pool and you get a great view of Madrid and in particular, the Royal Palace (by the way the Royal family does not live there).  The check in/ lobby area was very trendy (it was like going into a Starbucks) where you can have coffee and lounge around with  your phone/tablet and they also had the buffet breakfast in this area.  The staff was very helpful, but you would think you were at a Google office. All staff were in grey Tee shirts and shorts.  It was well organized and yes, I was entitled to get the breakfast.  The location of this hotel was perfect.  We were literally 10 minutes or less walking to the Opera House/ Royal Palace, Plaza Major and Sol and about 20 minutes to the Prado and Reina Sofia (Modern Art Museum). The room was (I call very efficient).  It was plenty big enough and the bathroom ideal. The only criticism I have is storage (seems to be the theme in European Hotels) is that it had no bureau space for our socks/underwear, T-shirts, etc. and you had to use the closet. We managed.  Had 5 great days in Madrid and then made our way back to Lisbon. I did take a taxi to the airport and on our return and the cost was about 30 Euros. 


Made our way back to Lisbon (once again mid-day) and took a shared van, the nice thing about this service is they had our name on card once we walked in to the arrival area (made it easy to get to the hotel).  Prior to coming back, I had asked for the 5-night Suite Upgrade and was notified that I would get it (I was using points).  We arrived at the hotel and our room was available. It was a Junior suite on the 17th floor with a sitting area and 1 and ½ bathrooms with access once again to the Concierge lounge.  We were now in full tourist mode and having been there for two days on the front end, we were now experienced travelers and had wonderful time in Lisbon as well.   

Two very different hotels. One was extremely comfortable with decent access for our travel plans and the other one provided a great location and made it easy to be a tourist.  I would recommend both.  I will be glad to share our travel itinerary in another blog.