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Madrid celebrating Columbus

Although most of my month long trip to Spain was done with home exchange for the lodging, there were two hotel stays. The first, in Bilbao where we used IHG points to stay for free, I’ve already written about. The second was in Madrid, where we got two free nights in Melia hotels.

I got lucky with this one. One of the points and miles blogs I follow mentioned that Melia was offering a really big sign up bonus just for joining their rewards program around the time I was finalizing lodging plans for Spain. The sign up bonus was enough points for one free night in a mid-level hotel. (I promise to share these deals via twitter in the future.) Melia has a lot of hotels in Spain so I quickly signed up, got my wife to do the same, and then booked the last two nights of our trip.

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Tryp Madrid Chamberí

Unfortunately, even booking a few months in advance, I couldn’t find a well located and well reviewed Melia property in Madrid that had both nights available for the number of points we had to spend. So we ended up staying in two different hotels. Not ideal, but with the excellent subway system in Madrid, it did give us a chance to explore two different neighborhoods without too much extra hassle.

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Exercise equipment in the hotel room

The first night, at the Tryp Madrid Chamberí, we were put in an “exercise room.” The check in clerk didn’t explain why, but it featured a nice fitness machine. It also had a bed and the other standard amenities, in a large, clean and comfortable room. I missed having a kitchen to stock with my own foods, but on the last day in Spain I don’t mind the excuse to eat as much last minute Spanish food as possible.

The second night, in the Tryp Madrid Washington, was in the center of town (just a few subway stops from the first Melia hotel). This hotel gave us a smaller and more run-down room. But for one night (and free!), it was perfect for wandering the streets in the heart of Madrid.

Lesson from Madrid: Sign up for hotel rewards program bonuses whenever possible. They are essential for those few odd nights when you need a free hotel room.