Well-situated on the edge of Casco Viejo (the Old Quarter) and overlooking the landmark Teatro Arriaga, Petit Palace Arana provides is one of the few modern hotel options in the neighborhood but it does come at a premium. The quintessential 19th century Bilbao façade, with its neoclassical stone foundation and floors with big bay windows rising up from it, could use a paint job but is an otherwise eye-catching building. The designer hotel offers small but contemporary rooms, easy access to the city’s best attractions, and is pet friendly.
The hotel has a pair of bicycles that guests can rent. The bike path that cuts through the city along the River Nervión to the Guggenheim is a beautiful one.
The quarters are tight but stylish with a minimalist decor, dark wood trims and floors, and good beds. All rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, and minibars. IPads are available for guests to check out at reception. Some of the city view rooms come with their own little terraces.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms facing the street are definitely prone to noise.
Behind the frosted glass doors are recently refurbished bathrooms that are sleek and clean with stand-up showers with hydromassage showerheads.
Guests are greeted by a sophisticated reception space upon arrival, where the buildings classic elements collide with a contemporary steel and glass interior design. There’s not much to do here other than come and go but it’s a pleasing point of entry nonetheless. The staff behind the reception desk has great knowledge of the local area for any restaurant and sightseeing recommendations.
There is a large breakfast room hiding in the hotel that puts out a diverse buffet of hot and cold food options every morning, from pastries to fresh fruits to Spanish tortilla. Guests will have to step outside for lunch and dinner but will find no lack of sensational options nearby.
The hotel is perfectly located for exploring Bilbao by foot, which is already an exceptionally pedestrian-friendly city. The picturesque streets of Old Town are right outside the door, and the Guggenheim is an easy walk down the river. The aboveground tram and the clean subway are both easy to use with stations nearby. The hotel has some private parking spots in an offsite lot for a nightly fee for guests arriving with a car.
The best part of staying in Casco Viejo is having the city’s world-famous pintxo scene at your doorstep. Wander and snack to your heart’s desire, but we suggest starting at Plaza Nueva. It’s a gorgeous neoclassical square lined with amazing pintxo bars. Gure Toki (2-minute walk) is a crowd-favorite, with creative takes on the delicious Basque style of cuisine. Berton (2-minute walk) is another popular spot in old town that also offers an exceptional restaurant service with larger portions for when you’re in need of a bigger meal.
Back in Plaza Nueva is Café Bar Bilbao (2-minute walk), the oldest establishment on the square and a wonderful atmosphere for late afternoon or early evening drinks, especially if it’s warm and you can sit out under the arcade.
Calle Ledesma (5-minute walk) is another can’t-miss bar scene in Bilbao. Just across the river in the city’s commercial district, the pedestrian-only street attracts a well-heeled local crowd during the day and turns into a vibrant scene at night with people spilling out into the street from every bar.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Petit Palace Arana gives the luxury of being able to stay in the famed Casco Viejo while still enjoying a more conventional hotel in a neighborhood mostly contained to pensions.