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Things to do in Madrid

Cheer on the galacticos with a football match

As 12-time European Cup winners, Real Madrid (tel: +34 91 398 4370; www.realmadrid.com) are a footballing giant. Their success has brought glamour to the Bernabéu Stadium and galacticos (highly skilled footballers) such as David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo to the pitch. See one of the world’s most decorated clubs with a stadium tour or better still, catch a game.

See Madrid from a different perspective

You don't even need a head for heights to see the city differently. Madrid's cable car, Teleférico (tel: +34 91 526 9793; www.teleferico.com) glides just above the trees of the Casa de Campo and offers unobstructed views of the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. After disembarking, visitors should take in the views with a drink from the bar.

See the best of the city on a bike

Pedal power is one of the best ways to explore Madrid. Fitter cyclists can circumnavigate the city using Anillo Verde (Green Ring), while hourly rentals from Bike and Roll (tel: +34 91 427 793; www.tallerbicicletasmadrid.com), are ideal for exploring the delightful Retiro Park or Casa de Campo Park on the bank of the Manzanares River.

Tread the path of the royals

Flanked by mountains, Madrid has a wealth of walking opportunities. Among the best is the Royal Path, a reconstruction of the route historically used by Spanish monarchs when travelling around the Madrid Sierra. To tackle some of the lesser-known rambles like La Gran Cañada, walk with Hiking Madrid (www.hikingmadrid.com).

Watch a performance at the majestic Teatro Real

Designed, destroyed, restored and renovated, the life of Teatro Real (tel: +34 91 516 06 60; www.teatro-real.com) in the heart of Madrid has been one of constant change - it has even acted as a gunpowder store. Today it stages world-class operas; catch a performance to see why it is one of Spain's most important cultural venues.

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Hotel AC Santo Mauro

This small luxury Madrid hotel, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, is situated in a leafy corner of the historic Chamberí neighbourhood and is housed in a 19th-century palace that once served as an embassy. It has been reconstructed in a tasteful combination of neoclassical and avant-garde styles. The lounges, ornamented with stucco mouldings, mirrors and fluted pilasters, evoke the refinement of a bygone age and are the perfect setting for entertaining clients. Other facilities include business services, six conference rooms (occupying the former ballrooms), interpreting services, multilingual staff, an indoor swimming pool and a fitness centre.

Casual Madrid de Teatro

It’s not just the location that makes this a great value hotel, although being a stone’s throw from Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza del Angel doesn’t hurt. The building is a lovely 1920s throwback, and the rooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings. Many hotels are charging much more for way less. One of the best cheap hotels in Madrid.

Petit Palace Ducal Chueca

Located close to the Gran Via, this Madrid hotel can truly boast 'all mod cons'. Part of the state-of-the-art High Tech hotel chain, its 58 boutique rooms are full of electronic knobs and whistles, including a flat screen TV and a hydro-massage shower. That doesn't impinge on comfort levels, though, and the red and black décor gives it a classy feel.

Vincci Soma

The location is one of the main attractions of this 170-room boutique hotel in Madrid, opposite Goya Metro station in the upmarket Salamanca district, 1km (0.6 miles) from Retiro Park and the chic shops of Calle Serrano. There are a few forays into the realm of luxury service, with a pillow menu and a book delivery service. The restaurant serves creative Mediterranean dishes.

Hotel Trafalgar

Less than 10 minutes from the centre of town by metro (Iglesia or Bilbao), the Trafalgar is a modern hotel that is popular with both tourists and businesspeople. It lies in a residential neighbourhood, well provided with shops, restaurants and other amenities. The 48 en-suite rooms, while unexceptional, are air-conditioned and have direct-dial telephones and TV. There is also a laundry service and currency exchange. The English-speaking staff are friendly and helpful.

Hotel Paris

One of the popular cheap options in Madrid’s Puerta de Alcalá area, Hotel Paris' 120 rooms are surprisingly spacious, decorated in classic style – this was one of the first luxury hotels in Madrid at the start of the 20th century. It was only when the Ritz was established in 1910 that it was relegated to a more modest category. Its main attraction is its location, right on the Puerta del Sol, with the main cultural stops right on its doorstep.