Tucked away in a pastoral valley behind the picturesque seaside village of Lekeitio is a traditional Basque country house from the 18th century that has been restored and converted into Hotel Zubieta. The romantic boutique inn, with its characteristic exterior of stone and timber and gently sloping roof and colorful shutters, is hidden past the arched stone gates of Palacio Zubieta, which it shares the property with. The hotel is within easy walking distance to the cobblestone streets of Lekeitio’s waterfront and the town’s three idyllic beaches while still providing a sense of rustic privacy. Comfortable and quaint rooms are found upstairs while the ground floor houses a charming café, a casual restaurant, and a tranquil outdoor terrace.
The hotel is especially welcoming to cyclists, providing a bike storage area, trail maps, and even a small repair shop. Those doing their explorations of the Basque Country via bike should consider this a friendly stop.
All 23 rooms are uniquely designed and have plenty of floor space and a simple décor that is brightened up by colorful curtains and arrangements. Flat screen TVs, safes, and free Wi-Fi are standard, though there is no adjustable AC. Upgraded rooms have open lounge areas adjacent to the bed with comfortable furniture and coffee tables and an open design that makes the room feel even larger than it already is.
YOU SHOULD KNOW This being both a boutique hotel and historic building, the rooms are opened with keys instead of cards; you will have to become reacquainted with locking the door on your way out.
The bathrooms are clean and unfussy with marble floors that feel good against the feet and tasteful wallpaper trim running atop the white tile walls.
The entire ground floor of the inn, meticulously well preserved in all its grandeur, is dedicated to the public areas of the hotel. Upon entry, guests will find an ever-friendly staff behind the small reception area that blends in with the rest of the gorgeous foyer. There is a sprawling lounge area between the café and the restaurant that feels like a time machine back to a simpler time, with antique furnishings and rich furniture to settle into and pleasing works of art abound.
At the back of the ground floor is a cozy dining room with a terrace to eat on during the summer months. The menu is basic Basque cuisine; it's nothing fancy but it gets the job done for those who don’t want to make the trek into town or who want the serenity of the outdoor seating that looks out upon a green pasture and rolling hills beyond. A breakfast buffet is included in the stay.
Taking over a large section of the ground floor is a delightful, old-time-y café and lounge that serves up a good coffee by day and drinks long into the night. Exposed timber support beams rise from the darkened brick floors and the wood-paneled bar in the corner oozes the rustic charisma of the hotel as a whole. You could easily mistake the space for a Santa Fe adobe saloon if you didn’t know any better. Locals pop in throughout the day, creating a more authentic sense of place within the town than your average hotel bar.
The hotel is within walking distance to Lekeitio’s old town and beaches, though a car is needed for excursions to the greater area. There is complimentary parking for guests, which is a nice perk given the limited parking in the village.
Lekeitio is definitely off the beaten path compared to more popular destinations, so make sure to account for a little extra time getting here compared to the bigger cities of the Basque Country.
On Lekeitio’s popular waterfront boardwalk and close to the cathedral is Kaia (10-minute walk), an excellent destination to eat pintxos at before a bigger meal. For dinner, we suggest another waterfront establishment, Antzarrak (10-minute walk), which serves well-executed Basque cuisine to patrons who can sit outside along the pictorial harbor and enjoy views of the sea along with their meal.
In the middle of town just a block off of the central promenade is Isuntza Taberna (7-minute walk), a busy no-frills bar that stays open later than anywhere else around. Towards the other end of the harbor is Talako (12-minute walk), a waterfront bar with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows that serves solid drinks and even has a few pool tables in the space. It’s a great place to have a drink day or night.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Lekeitio is a breathtaking little fishing village and Hotel Zubieta, with its exceptional location on the edge of town, provides one of the rare opportunities for guests to have a traditional rural Basque House experience without the total isolation normally required of such. Both the hotel and the seaside town make an exceptional alternative to the ever-growing summer chaos of San Sebastián for guests, and especially couples, who want the charm and energy of a vibrant summer beach destination but without the crowds.