This boutique Bed & Breakfast, enviably located in Bilbao’s Casco Viejo—or old quarters—is a budget-friendly gem that is absolutely soaking in character. The hotel is housed within a picturesque turn-of-the-century building with plenty of exposed stone, high ceilings, and rooms curated with inspired antiques. Although it has no restaurant, bar, or gym, there is a common area that serves a daily breakfast and has plenty of space for lounging throughout the day. And the service is beyond helpful; it would be hard to imagine a friendlier staff than the one found here.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Loud families and boisterous partiers should be aware that this is a mixed-use building, with permanent residents occupying the other floors. Therefore, a certain amount of respect and quiet is required, especially during the later hours.
The lodging at Iturrienea Ostatua immediately won us over. Each of the hotel’s nine rooms are uniquely furnished and no two are the same. Wooden ceiling beams, stone floors, and real antique furnishings transport residents through time and space to old Bizkaia. But don’t worry; each room is also equipped with the more modern amenities that we are used to seeing in a hotel, including AC, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, safes, and refrigerators. The beds are nothing fancy but are comfortable enough.
TIP: The street outside can be noisy on the weekends, so if you are a light sleeper, request one of the back rooms. However, if you can handle a little nighttime noise, the front rooms come with cute, cozy balconies—complete with a two-seater table and chairs—that jut over the cobblestone streets below and make for an added layer of romance to rooms already oozing in charm.
Simple and functional, the bathrooms are clean with tile floors and standing showers. The exposed stone gives some personality to the otherwise standard washroom.
Upon entering from the narrow, old-town street out front, one finds themselves transported into a fairytale-esque antechamber meant to evoke the look and feel of a classic rural Basque house. A spiral staircase leads to the entrance to the hotel, which occupies the entirety of the second floor. The second-floor lobby exudes charm in itself, littered with historic furnishings, quirky antiques, and a rustic decor.
Every morning, a wide dining room and lounge area in the lobby is arranged with a simple yet tasty breakfast made up of Basque breakfast foods and your standard breakfast beverages.
During special events in Bilbao, the owner will throw little parties in the common area, complete with home-cooked local cuisines and refreshing drinks, which brings an additional sense of connection to the neighborhood that is rare to find at any other hotels.
The B&B does not have a bar inside, though there is a kitchen to keep drinks that you buy from the store.
For nearby destinations, the old town is made for walking, and many of Bilbao’s attractions will be found here. For exploring the museums, parks, and further parts of the city, the easy-to-use subway, bus, and tram systems are cheap and convenient. Our personal favorite is the tram, which winds through the streets and makes for a great way to see the city while getting to where you need to go.
The staff at Iturrienea Ostatua tipped us off to Con B de Bilbao (1-minute walk), a traditional pintxo bar and restaurant right down the street that felt much more like a local treasure than a tourist destination.
We also highly recommend La Olla de la Plaza Nueva (5-minute walk), a brand new second location of the famed La Olla restaurant across town. Here you can get the experience without having to leave the neighborhood.
Plaza Nueva (5-minute walk), a magnificent neoclassical square in the heart of the old town, is lined with some of the city’s best pintxo and cocktail bars. The plaza is lively both day and night, and the terrace seating makes for a wonderful treat a sunny day or a warm summer night. Our favorite pintxo bar here is Café Bar Bilbao, but we suggest hopping around between the many bars on the square before deciding for yourself –each one is a pleasure in its own way.
You Should Know: Most bars in Casco Viejo close by midnight, even on the weekends. If you want to keep the party going, cross the river towards Arriquíbar Plaza (15-minute walk), where a plethora of trendy discos and bars run late into the night (and some into the morning). Let’s just say thank goodness for Siestas!
WHY WE LIKE IT
Itturienea Ostatua feels like the best of País Vasco all rolled up into one: the rustic charm of a countryside lodge situated smack dab in the middle of Bilbao’s most enviable and lively neighborhood. And though it does not have the amenities of a larger hotel, its location, beauty, and authentic sense of place more than make up for it.