With the mindset that a three day weekend is not to be wasted, I went to Madrid for MLK weekend in January. I found an award flight on American Airlines that left Friday night and stayed 2 nights at the AC Carlton, a Marriott hotel. It was a great weekend filled with sightseeing and delicious ham. It’s all about the jamón in Spain.
For most people, especially Americans, visiting Madrid or any other European city would typically be considered an expensive proposition for just a weekend getaway. However, by using points and miles I spent a total of $106.20 for the flights and hotels for my fiancé and me to spend the weekend in Madrid.
How I got the flights for next to nothing.
For the flights, it was 40,000 miles for each round trip ticket and $53.10 in taxes/fees. American Airlines is going to soon bump up the number of miles required for an off-peak round trip award to Europe to 45,000 miles, but it is still a great deal. I found a flight that left Friday evening and arrived Saturday morning, allowing us time to sleep on the plane. The return flight got us back in the afternoon, which gave us plenty of time to get ready for the upcoming work week.
How do you get the miles easily? Citi always has generous sign up bonuses for their American Airline cards. I just posted about a bonus recently that’s due to expire soon. That bonus is 50,000 miles which is more than enough for the award. Direct flights would have been $900+ each if we had paid for them cash.
How I got the hotels for free.
For the hotels, I used Marriott points. My fiancé and I both signed up for the Chase Marriott credit card in November/December. She received 50k points as a bonus after $2k in spending, and I found a better deal that gave me 80k points for $3k in spending. The 80k point sign up offer is still available for those interested. Follow the blog for future posts about tricks/tips I use to easily meet the spending requirements.
We stayed at the AC Hotel Carlton Madrid which is a convenient and nice hotel within walking distance of the Atocha train station. The hotel was 25,000 points per night or $100/night.
One of the most freeing things about not spending an arm and a leg to get to your destination is that you are less concerned about having a packed itinerary overloaded with touristy activities. We were able to freely spend the time casually seeing things at a leisurely pace (in our case, very leisurely).
We have always heard about how great the jamón ibérico is (don’t try to bring any back, the fines aren’t worth it), and so, we were overly excited to get our hands on some immediately after landing in the city.
I already miss it.
We made it over to the Prado museum, which is free 5-7pm Monday-Saturday and 6-8pm on Sundays.
The Clothed and Naked Maja.
We passed by the Reina Sofia Museum which has free hours too, but we were distracted by the nearby seafood paella and churros with hot chocolate.
Churros with chocolate is a thing here.
We loved Madrid. We generally rank places we visit on whether we could live there. The people are very friendly and the food is so great that we tried to squeeze in four meals per day. Madrid also isn’t a huge city, so it is very walkable; we walked about for miles without even realizing it. It’s a contender for a place we could live.
Inside the Crystal Palace