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The Best Hotels in the Basque Country for Art Lovers

Daniel Hogan | July 24, 2018

The completion of the universally celebrated Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao on the world stage as a must-visit cultural destination, but the Basque Country’s art scene goes far beyond the stunning post-modern construction. Often overshadowed by Paris to the North and Madrid to the South, the region has long been an off-the-beaten-path haven for art lovers. Today, the secret is out.

The Basque Country is home to the magnificent Museo de Bella Artes and the ancient Museum of San Telmo. It is where some of the first art on earth was painted (we’re talking about cave paintings, baby!). It is the subject of Picasso’s Magnus Opus, Guernica. It is where Hemingway was inspired to write The Sun Also Rises. It is the birthplace of Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza. Need we go on? Below are the best hotels for discovering the Basque art scene. Some house their very own collections; some are in privileged locations close to the best sites; and still others are simply masterpiece works of art in themselves.


Caravan Cinema

Why it made the list

The art of cinema is alive and well at this sensational boutique hotel. An ode to the silver screen, every room of Caravan Cinema is dedicated to a different Spanish filmmaker, with authentic props from movie sets peppering the inn and tasteful retro décor throughout. Its location in the Old Quarter of Bilbao also means it is within easy walking distance to the Guggenheim.

Hiding within the enchanting Old Quarter of Bilbao is a movi Read More


Castillo de Arteaga

Why it made the list

The immaculate neo-Gothic castle is five minutes away from the Bosques de Oma, otherwise known as The Painted Forest. The open-air artwork by Agustín Ibarrola is pretty self-explanatory; bright colors and paintings along the trees through the forest connect Basque history to the earth and bring visitors into a fairy tale forest in the process. It is a quintessential example of Basque modern art. And 15-minutes by car is the town of Guernica and the Guernica Peace Museum, where you can learn about the tragic bombing of Guernica that inspired Picasso’s eponymous mural.

This immaculate Neo-Gothic castle, which was restored by Nap Read More


Gran Hotel La Perla

Why it made the list

The luxurious hotel on Pamplona’s Plaza del Castillo, ground zero to the Festival de San Fermín, is a living and breathing monument to literature and the art of the written word. This was Hemingway’s favorite place to stay during his long love affair with Pamplona, and the hotel has preserved his room, the renowned room 217, in its original, ornate state for fans to savor and sleep in. The hotel also contains a beautiful library. Just across the street looking out onto the classic square is Café Iruña, a favorite watering hole of Hemingway’s and many other great artists of the Années Folles.

First opened in 1881, Gran Hotel La Perla is a spectacular p Read More


Hotel Miró

Why it made the list

Art lovers looking to tour Bilbao’s museum scene and save some money will be hard-pressed to find a better place to stay than Hotel Miró. It is located a half-a-block down the road from the Guggenheim, and those 100 meters of road make it is much more affordable than its sister hotel, the Gran Domine Bilbao, which is right out front of the museum, while still providing just as easy access. A few rooms here even boast views of the undulating titanium structure. And just another half-a-block in the opposite direction is the Museo de Bella Artes (the museum of Fine Arts), one of the best collections of classic art in Spain, which balances out nicely with the Guggenheim’s modern exhibits.

Travelers looking for the opportunity to stay across the str Read More


Hotel Marqués de Vallejo

Why it made the list

Guests can stay in an active art gallery at this chic designer hotel in Logroño. The ground floor is home to a constantly rotating gallery with exhibits by local Basque and Spanish artists. The hotel frequently hosts gallery events and speaker series. Situated in the center of the beautiful old town, all of the most spectacular architectural buildings in the city as well as the La rioja Museum.

The beautiful old city of Logroño is in the heart of Read More


Hotel Marqués de Riscal

Why it made the list

The Guggenheim comes to the wine country at Hotel Marqués de Riscal, the only hotel ever designed by visionary architect Frank Gehry. The hotel is its own jaw-dropping work of art. Like his creation in Bilbao, it features Gehry’s signature waving titanium and steel sheets, but here, they are an ode to the surrounding vineyards, with hues of pink and purple and gold. The tangle of metal is fused with a cubist sandstone foundation built from the same material as the medieval village of Elciego in which the hotel resides. Besides getting to stay within and constantly gawk at the dramatic work of architecture, the hotel is just a twenty-minute drive to another architectural work of art, Bodega Ysios, a winery designed by Santiago Calatrava that appears like rolling white waves against its granite mountain backdrop it looks to emulate. The area is also rich in prehistoric art like the Dolmen of San Martín and the archaeological site of La Hoya.

The only hotel ever designed by visionary architect Frank Ge Read More


Hotel María Cristina

Why it made the list

The grand halls of the historic Hotel María Cristina feel like classic museum galleries in themselves, with grand marble, high ceilings, gilded designs and giant portraits of Spanish royalty. But outside the hotel, the art scene of San Sebastián awaits. The Museo de San Telmo in the Old Town is the oldest musem in The Basque Country. Guests can venture to La Concha Bay to see Chillida’s famous Comb in the Wind sculpture. But that is not the only treat Chillida left behind. A little research will lead art lovers on their own personal tour of the city to find the plethora of hidden sculptural masterpieces that are scattered in plain sight across the urban landscape for those who know where to look.

This Spanish colonial–style gem is a Mexico City classic. Im Read More


Meliá Bilbao

Why it made the list

Rising high into the Bilbao skyline is Melía Bilbao, a ten-story post-industrial monument to the king of post-industrial artwork, Eduardo Chillida. Famed architect Ricardo Legorreta designed the building and his inspiration by the late Basque sculpture is ever-present throughout. Staying here is like living in a true Basque work of art. The hotel is a short walk away from the Guggenheim, but even closer than that is The Museum of Fine Arts, which is a much better museum once inside if you are preferential towards more classical art and exhibits.

Designed by famed architect Ricardo Legorreta as a tribute t Read More


Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao

Why it made the list

It’s not really fair to compete against a five-star hotel that overlooks the structure that is simultaneously the most iconic work of art and the most prestigious museum in the entire Basque Country. Yup, that one: the Guggenheim. Guests have incomparable views of the museum and Jeff Koons' floral Puppy sculpture out front from not just their rooms but also the enchanting private rooftop terrace and the delicious café restaurant downstairs. And while its one thing to be situated across the street from the Guggenheim, what really makes the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao number one is the feeling that the hotel is an extension of the museum itself, both in its exterior post-modern design and with the grand exhibition of awesome sculptures and artwork that lives inside.

Location Location Location; The golden rule of real estate m Read More

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