Located on the quiet side of the River Nervión as it cuts through the heart of Bilbao, this sleek business-forward property brings enough local character and charm to stand out from becoming just another chain hotel. Its modern metallic exterior rises up over the gorgeous riverfront and the Guggenheim beyond while equally contemporary rooms are found inside. And with nine conference halls of all sizes for events, a sophisticated reception space adorned with regional art, and its own private parking garage, it is no wonder why the Barceló Bilbao Nervión is a favorite for both business and pleasure.
The hotel’s 350 rooms come in a range of options, from standard to suite. Rooms are clean and stylish with wood floors, minimalist decor, and an über-comfortable bed. The contemporary lodgings come equipped with flat-screen TVs, coffee makers, and free Wi-Fi. Suites have separate living spaces with pullout sofa beds.
The hotel’s envious riverfront views are reserved to the 28 suites of the hotel.
Lovely rainforest showerheads come courtesy of a recent renovation, while in some rooms the tasteful washing area is exposed to the rest of the space thanks to the open design.
Though the futuristic portal entrance feels impersonal, once inside guests are welcome to a sprawling lobby with ample lounge space, chic marble floors, and art that includes a giant mural made of individually colored pieces of wood which acts as an homage to the famed color forest found in the nearby mountains.
An electronic screen near the doors displays up-to-the-minute flight times at Bilbao airport.
On the ground floor is a well-furnished fitness center with TechnoGym treadmills, elliptical, and stationary bike, as well as a strength machine and some free weights.
The iconic riverfront boardwalk, Paseo Camp Bolentine, runs from the hotel all the way past the Guggenheim. It’s an exceptional route for an outdoor jog.
A terrific buffet breakfast is offered in the expansive yet refined 160-person capacity dining room. Later in the day the open kitchen serves up pleasing Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner with plenty of well-executed Basque dishes on the rotating set menus as well. But being in the middle of Bilbao, we’d highly recommend the many culinary delights found in the proximity over the hotel for those that have the time.
A sophisticated bar and café can be found in the back of the open lobby with a welcoming lounge that is great space for working or simply for having a nice cocktail with fellow travelers. Guests will find plenty of pintxos stacked along the long black marble bar during the afternoons.
There is a grand piano in the lobby bar that becomes the centerpiece for live jazz nights once a week.
Bilbao is a city best explored by foot and with the assistance of the extremely easy-to-use metro system. And although the immediate neighborhood is a sleepy one, the hotel is enviously located between the Old Quarter and the Guggenheim as well as directly across the river from Calle Ledesma.
For those traveling by car, the hotel’s garage holds 50 free spots, and there are two public lots nearby.
Café Bar Bilbao (6-minute walk) is the best place to start your classic Bilbao pintxo bar experience. The century-old establishment is under the arcade of the gorgeous Nueva Plaza in the old quarter and there are plenty of other delicious pintxo bars lining the square for afterwards (as you should never spend too much time at just one spot). Across the iconic Zubizuri bridge is Restaurante Zortziko (12-minute walk), a fantastic fine-dining establishment that exemplifies the city’s unique gastronomic movement.
Right across the river is Calle Ledesma (6-minute walk), a pedestrian-only boulevard that is a favorite among the well-heeled after-work crowd and turns into a more rowdy scene on the weekends. For a contemporary cocktail experience, try La Mula de Moscú (12-minute walk) one of the hottest new lounges in town located close to the Guggenheim that makes for a tasteful way to finish a day at the museum.