Madrid is one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe and was the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2005. Often and mistakenly overlooked for Barcelona, this Spanish capital city has plenty to offer visitors and should be included more often on European itineraries. Its central location within Spain itself also makes it convenient to further explore other regions of the country. Chueca is the gay neighborhood in Madrid that embodies the city’s open-minded and energetic atmosphere. Óscar, part of the Room Mate hotels, is located in Chueca and is an ideal and popular option for any LGBT traveler to the city. When you first walk into the small, but open lobby you immediately get a feel for its bold, posh design. The staff is professional and polite and a mixture of straight and gay themselves. In fact, the president of the Room Mate Hotels is even openly gay. The Room Mate chain has 19 hotels total around the world in cities like New York, Mexico City, Barcelona and Amsterdam. They expect to continue growing and will be doubling their hotels in the coming years.
In Madrid, the 74-room Óscar hotel offers four main types of accommodations including standard rooms, deluxe rooms, junior suites and a single mini-suite and suite. The main difference between an interior standard room and a deluxe room is the view. The deluxe rooms and suites are exteriors and overlook Plaza Vázquez de Mella where the hotel is located. The interior of each room has a clean, crisp white base that’s bravely covered with a colorful and edgy modern design. The single main suite has a beautiful wrap-around balcony overlooking the plaza and the mini-suite has a decent balcony as well with the same view. All the rooms come with the standard amenities such as free wifi throughout the hotel, a TV, minibar and all those small details necessary for a comfortable stay. A buffet breakfast can be included in your stay for an added price.
The hotel lacks a proper restaurant of its own, but considering its location in the center of Madrid, there is no need. For those who like to work out to maintain a beach-ready body even during their vacation, the hotel has a contract with Gymage, a popular gay-friendly gym nearby to allow their guests to use it with an additional cost of about $10. The real winning aspect to this hotel, apart from its superb location and gay-friendliness, is its rooftop terrace and pool. With Madrid’s lack of a beach or any noteworthy waterfront, Oscar’s rooftop pool is just the thing a visitor to the city needs to keep that summer glow.
The stylish bar and cute servers invite both hotel guests and locals to the top of Óscar, officially called La Terrazza de Óscar, as it’s open to the public. The small terrace makes efficient use of the space with seats at little tables and loungers to relax by the pool. To use the pool, a paid reservation is required whether you’re a guest or not as there is limited space with a maximum occupancy of 28 people. Guests of the Óscar hotel receive a reduced price for the pool at about $11 per room. The bar has a decent selection of moderately high priced cocktails and a shortlist of cold snacks that guests can order as it has no kitchen. Be sure to try the Oscar cocktail, a gin and cava based drink named after the hotel itself. The rooftop terrace is open year-round, with the pool being covered up and replaced with artificial grass in the colder months. This unique spot above Óscar is truly is a great place to mingle, relax in the warm Spanish sun, and admire the view over Chueca.
The staff at Óscar is friendly and welcoming and will gladly help orientate you within the city to help you enjoy yourself just as much outside the hotel as inside. Upon leaving the hotel and exploring the neighborhood, you’ll quickly realize that it is a perfect place to stay during a visit to Madrid. It’s the pulse of the LGBT community in Madrid and contains some of the best restaurants the city has to offer. There are multiple plazas to sit and enjoy tapas, restaurants for fine dining, bakeries, coffee shops and late-night pizza options for those wild nights out as Madrid is also known for its crazy party scene. The most popular gay bars and clubs plus regular monthly parties and events take place in Chueca or closely in and around the center.
Fuencarral is the street that forms the west border of Chueca and is one of the best shopping streets in the city with stores like Levi’s, Swarovski, Diesel, and Mercado de Fuencarral, a small shopping center with great boutiques and alternative shops. The south border of Chueca is formed by Gran Via, a large street in the center also popular for shopping. Here you’ll find stores like H&M, Zara, Lacoste, and Nike.
With the many shops, restaurants, museums and sights closely situated nearby, the Óscar hotel can be the perfect place to base yourself in the city and it’s an affordable option for what it offers. Its average of 90% occupancy year round speaks to its popularity and value. During the 2015 Madrid gay pride, the largest gay pride in all of Europe, it was booked out completely. Though it is surprisingly a three-star hotel, it maintains a high standard and quality that can stand against most four-star hotels. Madrid is a great destination year-round and Óscar in the city center is definitely the place to stay for LGBT and straight travelers alike to make the most of their visit.