We sort of played this trip by ear and didn’t have a definitive flight back home. We had a couple of days in mind to return home regardless of award space. I was hoping that Lufthansa first class space would open up closer to our anticipated departure date range.
After leaving Porto, we planned on spending a couple of days in Madrid before heading home. The night before we left Porto, first class award space had opened up on Lufthansa, unfortunately I was unable to book these flights directly through Aeroplan’s website, and was forced to call. I will say that Aeroplan’s call center is absolutely horrible when it comes to wait times. It seems that typical waiting times are north of 45 minutes, and usually lasted at least 1 ½ hours. On a couple of occasions, there was an option to have the call center call you back.
When I finally connected to an agent, he could not see the award space I was seeing on United’s site. I told him that we were flexible in the date that we left and/or routing. Our anticipated two night stay in Madrid got cut down to an overnight stay.
Instead of flying from Madrid with a couple hour layover in Frankfurt before departing home. Our new routing looked like this: Madrid to Brussels with a 3-hour layover, then Brussels to Frankfurt with an 18-hour layover. Leaving Frankfurt, we had a stopover in Washington, DC before heading to Los Angeles.
Not the most desirous routing, but at least we were able to secure first class seats on Luftahnsa.
We had planned a two night stay at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid. I had a free night certificate with Marriott from a prior promotion. The certificate was for a Category 1-5 hotel. The AC Hotel Carlton Madrid was conveniently close to the train station, although somewhat far from the city center.
There has been much discussion about the easiest way to get to the hotel, especially if dragging a lot of luggage. If taking the Renfe train, upon exiting the Atocha Cercanias station cross the street and enter the Madrid Puerta de Atocha station. Go down on floor and exit the building on the left side when facing the building. There will be a small bridge. Walk under the bridge where all the taxis are lined up, and keep going straight for a couple of short blocks. The hotel will be on your left about one block down.
Upon entering the hotel, there is a revolving door. Immediately after exiting the revolving door however, there is a small set of stairs. I’m sure this set-up has caused many people to trip or fall in the past.
Check-in was fairly quick. I was informed that breakfast is not provided for Marriott or Ritz Carlton Gold or Platinum members, but could be purchased for ~€18.
The lobby is very small, with cramped seating throughout.
There is also a small bar.
The hallways were clean and modern, although a bit narrow.
We were assigned room 610, a King room.
The room was on the smaller side, but there was enough space for our one night. The “king” bed were two twins pushed together. The beds were on the firmer side.
Two chairs were at the foot of the bed. The set-up was kind of strange considering the size of the room.
There was a bench/luggage rack in the corner, along with a mini fridge.
The desk was on the smaller side, but still functional. Outlets were conveniently placed and easy to get to near the desk.
A complimentary bottle of water was provided.
There was also a small shelf to place keys, wallets, etc., which was next to the closet and a set of drawers.
The bathroom was on the smaller side. There was a shower/tub combo, with the dreaded half door.
Oddly, the toilet was placed very close to the wall on one side with plenty of room on the other.
The sink had limited counter space, but there was some space underneath the sink.
The safe must have been taken from a stagecoach during the Wild West days, as it required a key to use, which was not provided in the room.
The hotel was perfectly fine for a one-night stay. As we had never been to Madrid before, I am sure location wise there are preferable options, but it met our needs for this trip.