This cluster of centuries-old rural houses hidden away in the lush hills of Vizcaya between Durango and Vitoria-Gasteiz provides a rustic sanctuary complete with handsome lodgings, a good restaurant, and gorgeous views of the countryside.
Just down the road in the hamlet of Axpe is one of the best restaurants in the region.
The ancient stone Basque houses have been restored into comfortable and classic accommodations. The simple but tasteful rooms have free Wi-Fi and open up to cozy balconies with sensational views of the valley and the mountains above it. It comes as no surprise that you will get true peace and quiet once the sun goes down here.
Each room has a private bathroom and though they are small they are clean and easy on the eyes.
YOU SHOULD KNOW We recommend bringing your own toiletries.
The ground floor of the lower farmhouse is a portal to simpler times, with beautiful antique décor and a glass-enclosed patio that looks out onto the spectacular natural surroundings. The staff here is friendly and really makes an effort to make guests feel at home.
An utterly romantic restaurant is on the ground floor of the upper lodge, surrounded by the original stone foundations with exposed timber beams running across the ceiling. The traditional Basque menu is splendid from first course to last and you can even sit at the same table that once served a former king of Spain. A classic complimentary breakfast is served every morning in the romantic breakfast room.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
Mendi Goikoa is off the beaten path along a winding road just above the tiny village of Axpe between Durango and Vitoria-Gasteiz, which means a car is required to get here. Parking is free and the staff is helpful in directing you to some of the better hiking access points in the national park nearby.
Just down the road is a hidden gem of a restaurant, Asador Etxebarri (5-minute walk), that is one of the best in the entire Basque Country and specializes in high quality, locally sourced meats and vegetables on the grill.
Back in Durango is Restaurante Kukutze (20-minute drive), a fine dining establishment for guests looking to experience some seriously good progressive Basque gastronomy.
Pol-Pol (20-minute drive) is a sleek cocktail bar in the old part of Durango that is one of the more lively joints in the area. Travelers looking to snack on great pintxos with their drinks should check out Anboto (20-minute drive), a tavern in Durango where the iconic Basque bites are stacked high across the bar.
WHY WE LIKE IT
In less than 45-minutes you can be transported from the bustle of downtown Bilbao to a green, rustic oasis where the striking mountains of the Urkiolako national park rise into the sky outside your room and you awake to the sound of cowbells in the morning. This is quintessential rural tourism and makes for a great overnight escape from the city, especially for travelers wanting to eat at the famous Asador Etxebarri nearby.