Between June 23 and July 2, Madrid will be host to the planet’s biggest gay pride festival of the year, World Pride, with some two million visitors expected over the course of the nine-day event. Labor unions are predicting that every hotel will be full: demand has sent the price of rooms soaring: fivefold in some cases. Madrid City Hall says there are just 83,300 hotel rooms in the Spanish capital, meaning that the majority of visitors will have to make alternative accommodation arrangements.
The Madrid Hotel Business Association has not provided any data on hotel occupancy rates, because “there is still time and not everything has been booked.” But Antonio Ruda of the Workers’ Commissions labor union says that in June of last year, 1,029,518 visitors stayed in hotels in the capital, 42,689 more than in the same month in 2015.
“There are no hotel rooms in Madrid or the outskirts. You’d have to go to Toledo to find a space,” says Ángel Martínez of the UGT labor union. He adds that the average price of a four- or five-star hotel room is more than €300, “an increase of €100.”
The World Pride 2017 website warned in October to book well ahead
“Finding accommodation in the center during gay pride week has been impossible for months,” says Yago Blando, coordinator of Arcópoli, a Madrid-based LGBT association, adding that visitors to the Spanish capital arriving in recent days have had to travel out to dormitory towns such as Leganés or Móstoles to find a room. “A lot of people have had to get friends to help them out,” says Blando.
One such visitor is Mario Antón, 37, from Granada, who is attending his sixth gay pride festival in Madrid: “I began looking for places with friends three months ago. We couldn’t agree on location or price, which was prohibitive. Now everything is taken.”
The World Pride 2017 website warned in October that anybody thinking of attending would need to book well ahead. “The sooner you reserve your accommodation, the more chance you have of finding the ideal place at the best price,” says the site. It put together a list with a few suggestions, such as the Oscar Hotel in Chueca. An employee there says its 74 rooms have been fully booked for the duration of World Pride for three months. A quick internet search shows that the average price per room in the hotel is €247, four times the normal rate.
If you don’t have a reservation for those days, you’re better off going to the Caribbean
Madrid hotel owner José Bueno
“If you don’t have a reservation for those days, you’re better off going to the Caribbean,” says José Bueno, the owner of the Casa Bueno hotel in Chueca. “Anybody looking for a room now isn’t going to find anything, and if they did, it would be very expensive, more than €200 a night,” he says.
Alexandre Charles, 33, from Mallorca, has been coming to Madrid’s Gay Pride festival for seven years: “This year, with World Pride, everything is out of proportion.” Along with three friends, he has rented an apartment for €800, almost three times the rate in previous years.
Other visitors have opted for apartments through platforms such as Airbnb, among them Fede Rossi, a 29-year-old Romanian who is sharing with three friends. They each paid €50 for the first night of the festival.
Barely 8% of the more than 300 apartments advertised on Airbnb are still available for the nine-day event. Labor unions have called on Madrid City Hall and the regional government to control the market in unlicensed tourist accommodations. “They are being occupied illegally and there are more and more of them each day, although they do not figure in any official data,” says Ruda.
English version by Nick Lyne.