You’re into the action straight away at Madrid flashpacker hostel The Hat, which has taken the admirable decision to place the bar at the centre of its reception area. Start as you mean to go on, as my old headmaster used to say… Anyway, The Hat occupies a rather nice 19th Century building between the Sol and Latina districts, renovated by architect Jesús Manzanares and designed by Aaprile, and inside you’ll have the chance to lay your head in one of 220 beds spread over 42 rooms, ranging from private doubles with their own bathrooms to conventional dorms. Pine furniture has been custom made in Toledo, and wrought iron columns lend some weight to the light and bright interior.
Of course the sleeping arrangements, while rivalling a proper hotel in standard of finish, are not even the most interesting part of this (or indeed any) hostel experience. Head upstairs and you’ll soon sniff out the exclusive rooftop sun terrace, alive with the aroma of barbecues and the Sunday morning breakfast paella. In the opposite direction, the basement venue known as The Cave is open to the whole of Madrid, hosting a multitude of social and cultural events including art exhibitions, language exchanges, live music and DJ sessions. We doff our hats.