Bilbao's grande-dame favorite has hosted top-tier celebrities over the last century, from Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway to Ava Gardner, casting giant Gretchen Rennell, and music czar John Court, not to mention Francis Ford Coppola. Opened in 1926, Architect Manuel María de Smith based this project on the London hotel of the same name, although the stained glass in the oval reception area is a reduced version of the one in Nice's Hotel Negresco. During the Spanish
Civil War, this building was the seat of the Republican Basque government; later it housed a number of Nationalist generals. The hotel's bar, the Grill, has a clubby English feel to it, with murals painted by client Martinez Ortiz in 1947. The murals, representing an equestrian scene and some 10 bourgeois figures, are remarkable for the detailed painting of every hand and finger.