Conveniently located on the San Mamés end of Bilbao’s famed Gran Vía, the NH Collection Villa de Bilbao is a state-of-the-art property known for its outstanding service, airy rooms, and sleek artistic style. A vanguard Basque restaurant, cozy lobby bar, and new fitness room provide plenty to do inside, while its central location–just a short stroll from the Museo de Bellas Artes and the Guggenheim— and immediate access to public transportation make it easy for patrons to explore the city. Catering primarily to business travelers and conferences during the week, the hotel makes for an under-the-radar option for travelers and families alike looking for a weekend getaway to Bilbao.
The hotel offers three levels of room choice: Superior, Premiere, and Suites. All are spacious, comfortable, and carefully curated to fit the mod tone of the hotel, with trendy furniture, white marble accents, and rich black curtains. The final touches are the black & white murals that take up the entire wall above the headboard in every room. Sleep comes easily thanks to the NH Collection Sleep Better 36-inch mattresses found in all three levels of room, and new espresso machines will get you up and out of bed when ready to start the day. The suites of the hotel have a separate living room for families or parties craving some extra space, and one thing we loved was that many of even the standard rooms come equipped with a fold-out couch, making the hotel extra family friendly.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Only Premiere and Suite rooms have street views. On the one hand, this may be worth an upgrade from Superior if you don’t like your view to be the back of another building, but on the other hand, the street-side will be noisier.
Exceptionally large bathrooms boast two sinks in every room, contrasting marble walls and floors, rainforest showers, and plenty of decorative toiletries expected of a luxury hotel, with the additional bonus of robes and slippers provided for the suites. Some of the bathrooms have baths while others only have showers. If you are the type that likes to take a long soak in the tub, call ahead to make sure you get the former.
The shampoos and soaps are exclusively produced for the NH Collection and come in delightfully designed containers, so make sure to grab whatever you don’t use.
The sleek foyer evokes the vibe of the city as a whole, where post-modern industrial design collides with traditional Basque art. Upon stepping into the lobby one is immediately met with an exceptional Néstor Basterretxea sculpture jutting from the wall, as black marble floors lead away into the expansive space dotted with chic lounge pieces, colorful paintings, and a number of sitting areas. A concierge and customer service desk is front and center where an enthusiastic staff waits ever-ready to assist with your stay.
The Fitness Center offers a diversity of modern equipment, including treadmills, elliptical, a studio-cycle bike, and an array of free weights and machines for full workouts. But the best part about the gym, located on the 7th floor, might just be its sweeping views of the city.
The hotel will relocate their excellent spin-style stationary bike to your room upon request for a more private workout.
Overlooking the promenade from the second floor is Le Bol Blanc, the hotel’s sole restaurant. Here you will find an impressive breakfast buffet, daily lunches, and an ever-changing dinner menu. If you have a sweet tooth, look no further – the desserts here are plentiful throughout lunch and dinner.
Don’t sleep through breakfast – from the fresh smoothies handed out as you walk in to the mouthwatering pintxo buffet to the chefs cooking fresh tortilla-de-patata to order, you will never look at a hotel breakfast option the same.
The hotel not only has a parking garage for your car, but also is within a one-minute walk to the city’s easy-to-use subway, the scenic tram, the bus stop, and a taxi stand. If you’re exploring the city, we suggest leaving the car in the garage and using public transit and your own two feet instead, as parking is very difficult.
A short stroll through towards the center of town takes you to Licenciado Poza (6-minute walk), a street renowned for its traditional pintxo bars that will have you hopping from one to the next until you can’t force anything more down (okay but maybe just one more pintxo). And for a taste of Bilbao’s famed post-modern culinary scene, head over to Zarate (7-minute walk), a sophisticated establishment serving modern takes on Basque cuisine that are so impressive they have been deemed worthy of a coveted Michelin star.
The hotel is sandwiched between two of the city’s most noteworthy bars: At Jaime’s (1-minute walk), you’ll find bespoke bartenders stirring the best Gin & Tonics in Bilbao. Make sure to pick out one or two of their creative pintxos to soak up all that top-shelf gin. If you’re craving something a bit stronger, head around the corner to Sir Winston Churchill Pub (1-minute walk). Famed for its curated cocktails and classic ambiance, there are some 300-plus types of liquors on offer, giving an endless combination of concoctions for the mixologists to play with (don’t do the math, we tried, and now we need a drink). Of course, no bar named after Churchill would be complete without a cigar room; settle into their fumoir with a high-quality cigar to finish off the night.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Although a bit more business-focused than some other options, the hotel balances itself out with superb artistic taste, refined rooms, outstanding service, and exceptional amenities, all of which make the property a great deal for the price. And with its close proximity to the city’s best parks, museums, and restaurants, The NH Collection Villa de Bilbao serves as an elegant home base for exploring Bilbao’s modern art and culinary scene, whether here for business or pleasure. Oh, and did we mention the breakfast?