Live like a king in this immaculate medieval castle perched atop the gorgeous fortified coastal village of Hondarribia where the Spanish and French Basque Countries meet. Once home to Spain’s founding Emperor, Charles V, the restored castle now boasts airy modern rooms and spectacular views of the sea. The picturesque beach town here, which this bastion used to protect, is equally renowned for its history and its blossoming culinary scene, and is equidistant from the resort destinations of San Sebastián and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
The hotel is at the start of the Camino de Santiago and makes for an enchanting way to kick off the long journey ahead.
The 68 rooms of the palace come in all different types but even the standard accommodations are generously spacious and only get bigger as you upgrade. The design is classic meets contemporary, with many rooms offering ocean-views of the harbor and Bidasoa Estuary that are worth trying to get. All rooms are equipped with fast Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, and air conditioning.
The castle has three unique quarters each specially designed to evoke the imperial grandeur of the hotel. They are well worth the upgrade for lovers of old.
Huge bathrooms are encased in marble and come with deep tubs and floral arrangements on the countertops. The assortment of toiletries is first-class. Bathrooms in the sea view rooms have portal windows looking out to the ocean.
Be transported into your own magical fairy tale as you step inside the historic citadel. The halls are abound with secluded lounge areas in every nook and cranny, and a central courtyard acts as a hidden oasis of greenery with glass tables and chairs surrounded by the imposing stonework of the castle. Expect plenty of arched stone doorways, wrought iron railings and chandeliers, and medieval decor like suits of armor and even antique cannons.
On a nice day the best place to be is the castle’s rooftop terrace that overlooks the harbor below and La Côte Basque beyond. Grab a bottle of wine and soak in the romance.
An excellent buffet is served each morning in a lovely breakfast room with checkered marble floors and glass walls with enormous arched windows looking out into the dreamy courtyard.
YOU SHOULD KNOW It is disappointing that there is no lunch or dinner service in a hotel of this size, but with Hondarribia having one of the best food scenes in a country renowned already for its food, we understand the reasoning.
Hondarribia is the closest town in the Basque Country to the San Sebastián airport. It’s a quick taxi, bus, or drive to the hotel, which also offers overnight parking for a daily fee. Some of the most beautiful beach towns in the region, from Pasai to San Sebastián to Getaria, are easily accessible by bus for those without car. If you have a pair of wheels, it’s also an easy hop over to the French Basque Country and its iconic resort towns like Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Some say Hondarribia has overtaken San Sebastián as the best place to eat pintxos in the Basque Country (the jury is still out but that is a challenge we’re happy to continue testing out). Either way, you are sure to find some extraordinary meals here. San Pedro Street is teeming with amazing pintxo bars. Gran Sol (10-minute walk) is the best of the best of them. Make sure not to miss it.
For dinner, set a reservation at Alameda (5-minute walk), a family run restaurant that has been running for three generations and has earned a well-deserved Michellin-star for the past twenty years. This amorous interior is where traditional Basque cuisine meets the progressive gastronomy that the region is so renowned for.
There is no bar at the hotel but Gastroteka Danontzat (1-minute walk) makes a nice substitute. Located just a hundred yards from the castle, this pub along the cobblestone streets of the old town is a charming local establishment that serves great beer and wine along with well-made cocktails.
Wine lovers should head to San Pedro Street, closer to the harbor, for a drink at Vinoteka Ardoka. A wide selection of wine is on offer and can be paired with the delicious assortment of pintxos always up on the bar.
WHY WE LIKE IT
History and luxury collide in this sensationally located fortress turned hotel. Whether you’re a foodie, a history lover, or just an old-fashioned sucker for romance, Parador de Hondarribia checks off all the boxes for an extraordinary stay.