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Also called Donostia, San Sebastian is a resort town and the capital of Gipuzkoa province in northern Spain. Set on the Bay of Biscay, it’s a shining example of the Basque Country’s natural beauty and wonderful culture. Its picturesque beauty was among the reasons Queen Maria Cristina spent her vacations here in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, its stunning beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, and temperate climate draw visitors from near and far. In fact, those living in the south tend to visit San Sebastian to enjoy cooler weather during the hot months. So whether you’re thinking of visiting in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, choose one of the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain, for a wonderful Basque holiday.
Where To Stay In San Sebastian
San Sebastian may not be as high-profile as Madrid or Barcelona, both roughly a 5-hour drive away, but it’s no less enchanting. Parte Vieja (Old Town) offers some of the Top Things To Do in San Sebastian. Here, you can visit old buildings such as the 16th-century San Vicente Church. During the day, get your fill of pintxos (similar to tapas) in the restaurants or go shopping. At night, you can go bar hopping and paint the town red. However, keep in mind that lodging prices in Old Town aren’t the cheapest in the city. You can consider staying in other neighborhoods if you’re seeking more reasonable rates.
Antiguo—which is older than Old Town, by the way—is a good example. It’s a quieter district, with a less frenetic nightlife, but it holds plenty of attractions. These include Ondarreta Beach, a fairground at Monte Igeldo, and the restaurants, cafes, and stores of Calle Matia. Meanwhile, the Gros neighborhood is also a good and affordable place to stay. Hip and lively, it’s a popular destination for surfers because of its location near Zurriola Beach.
For avid cinephiles, Hotel Astoria7 is most likely one of the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain. This 4-star property, set in the former Astoria Cinema, pays homage to luminaries in the movie world. In fact, each of its rooms is a tribute to a director or actor who has attended the San Sebastian Film Festival. You’ll stay in a room decorated with portraits of stars such as Meryl Streep, Francis Ford Coppola, and Hugh Jackman. Contemporary furnishings also contribute to the room’s pleasant ambiance. Meanwhile, satellite TV and A/C make for comfortable and entertaining stays. What’s more, soundproofing means you’ll get a quiet night’s sleep.
In the morning, head to the cafe-bar for an impressive buffet breakfast. Once lunchtime rolls around, enjoy Spanish and Basque cuisine at the bright and cheerful restaurant. Need to burn the surplus calories? No problem, the hotel gym is a great place to work out.
Located in the Amara neighborhood, Hotel Astoria7 sits by the River Urumea. A 15-minute stroll will bring you to Old Town’s pintxos bars. The golden sands of La Concha Beach are likewise accessible on foot. You can walk for around 16 minutes or take a 10-minute bus ride.
Barceló Costa Vasca
Popular with business travelers and families, Barceló Costa Vasca is a modern 4-star hotel. Choose from the 200+ rooms on offer, which are all flooded with natural light. Many of them boast a terrace, something you don’t see often in the city. If you’re traveling on business, you’ll find the desk useful. Also, if you’re planning an extended stay, you’ll appreciate the generous closet space.
The outdoor pool, open only in the summertime, is surrounded by loungers for soaking up the sun. Also, there’s a poolside bar for easy access to a cold drink. Meanwhile, the hotel gym features state-of-the-art equipment. After working up an appetite, head to the restaurant for tasty Basque cuisine. This is also where you’ll head to in the morning for an ample breakfast. Close by, the beautiful Miramar Palace and Gardens await your visit.
Axel Hotel San Sebastián
The 4-star Axel Hotel San Sebastián, an adults-only property, is ideal for a romantic vacation. It’s one of the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain, for a summer trip, when the outdoor pool is open. But anytime is a good time for a fabulous stay here, really. Set in the heart of the city, it’s a stone’s throw from gorgeous La Concha Beach. Likewise, the Historicist Neo-Gothic San Sebastián Cathedral is within walking distance.
Most of the hotel’s luxurious rooms and suites sleep two people. Choose a suite and relax on the balcony with a bottle of champagne. Keeping up-to-date with what’s happening in the world is easy with the satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. In the morning, you can have breakfast in bed or enjoy the hotel’s buffet breakfast. Feel like pampering yourself? At the spa with its hammam, you can do just that.
When it comes to classy budget hotels in San Sebastian, it’s tough to beat La Galería. Housed in a 19th-century French building, this 2-star property exudes elegance. The hotel’s rooms, some with scenic views of the sea, feature artwork and antique furniture. Of course, they also boast modern comforts. You can enjoy a drink from the minibar, keep cool with air-conditioning, and catch a show on the flat-screen TV.
The hotel may not have a restaurant, but there are several good places to eat and drink close by. Another great thing about it is that it’s steps from Ondarreta Beach, which tends to be less crowded compared to others. Sightseeing is a pleasure here, too. You can rent a bike from the hotel and explore nearby landmarks like Miramar Palace.
Lasala Plaza Hotel
Do you want to stay close to the beach and Old Town at the same time? The Lasala Plaza Hotel is one of the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain, for that. Book a room here and you’ll be a short walk from La Concha Beach and Zurriola Beach. Likewise, the cafes, bars, and restaurants along Calle Mayor in Old Town are a few minutes away on foot.
Stay in one of the well-appointed and spacious rooms and suites. Some boast balconies with sweeping views of the sea or the city. Enjoy the modern vibe thanks to the contemporary decor and furnishings. Climate control lets you keep your room at the temperature you want. Meanwhile, radiant flooring extends the comfort to your bathroom. You can start your day with a sumptuous buffet breakfast. Later, savor Basque dishes at lunch or dinner at the restaurant. And when the sun is out, head to this 4-star hotel’s rooftop pool overlooking the sea.
Set on verdant Mount Igueldo, the 3-star Hotel Avenida offers modern, clutter-free rooms. Many of them provide panoramic views of the city while some overlook the outdoor pool. A number of rooms can accommodate up to four people, so they’re ideal for small groups. Whether you book a small or a large room, you’ll enjoy lounging back with a drink from the minibar while watching a show on the 40″ satellite TV. What’s more, Wi-Fi is free in the rooms so you’ll have no problem tending to your social media.
You can start your morning with an ample buffet breakfast. Or, if you want to begin your day with a workout, then head to the hotel gym. Of course, you can also go for a few quick laps in the pool. Would you prefer to swim in the sea instead? That’s easy enough to do since Ondarreta Beach is a short walk away. Likewise, the bus stop is within walking distance. This makes it easy and convenient to get to and from Old Town.
Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra
Not only is the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra one of the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain, but it’s also among the most eye-catching. This 4-star property, a 19th-century building standing steadfast on La Concha Beach, oozes with Old World charm. The rooms and suites, for example, feature Belle Époque-era décor. Yet they’re also firmly ensconced in the 21st century, with perks like satellite TV and Wi-Fi. Many of the rooms and suites also provide a private balcony with awesome views of La Concha Bay or Old Town.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to drinking and dining. Enjoy an intimate breakfast in the lounge and relish Basque cuisine in the restaurant. In the English-style bar, wash down an appetizer with your favorite brew. At sunset, head to the terrace with a drink in hand. The hotel doesn’t have a pool, but the beach is steps away if you feel a desire to go swimming.
Akelarre – Relais & Châteaux
Outstanding accommodation, cuisine, and service make Akelarre – Relais & Châteaux one of the top luxury hotels in San Sebastian. Stay in one of the 22 rooms built into Monte Igueldo’s hillside and enjoy fabulous views of the sea. Or, book one of the suites and enjoy your very own plunge pool. The rooms’ high-tech wizardry will also keep you entertained. These include Bang & Olufsen TV and sound systems. What’s more, most of the bathrooms offer tubs beside floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can admire the view while you soak.
Basque cuisine shines at the restaurant headed by acclaimed chef Pedro Subijana. With three Michelin stars, it’s no surprise the restaurant draws discerning diners from near and far. There’s a wine cellar that holds tastings as well as a chic bar with terraces. Meanwhile, for some quality “me” time, head to the superb spa. Here, you can soak in a stone pool with hydromassage jets or detox in the marble steam room. And if you want to go sightseeing, you can make use of this 5-star hotel’s free shuttle service to and from the beach or the city.
NH Collection San Sebastián Aránzazu
The 4-star NH Collection San Sebastián Aránzazu deserves its spot among the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain, for many reasons. For one thing, its location next to Ondarreta Beach is superb. Also, the bus stop is very close so that getting to and from Old Town is a cinch. For another thing, it boasts luxurious amenities. You can feast on superb Basque and Spanish cuisine in the restaurant. Also, the café-bar offers a healthy breakfast as well as light meals and refreshments. Meanwhile, the fitness center features modern equipment. It also provides personal training sessions and beauty treatments.
This boutique hotel’s rooms leave nothing to be desired. They’re furnished with modern décor and bathed in natural light courtesy of floor-to-ceiling windows. Of course, your home away from home in Sebastian has what it takes to keep you in comfort. You can channel-surf for great shows on the satellite/cable TV and navigate the Internet via free Wi-Fi. Air-conditioning keeps you cool while the minibar is handy for whenever you need a drink.
Hotel Villa Soro
Dignified, genteel, and elegant are a few words that come to mind when describing Hotel Villa Soro. It features two buildings, one of which is a 19th-century structure listed as a Historical Heritage Building of San Sebastian. This 4-star hotel conveys a historic charm all around, from the Tudor-style facade to the helpful staff’s period attire. Of course, there are 21st-century amenities, too. The light and spacious fitness center, for instance, features state-of-the-art exercise equipment. You can also get a cardio workout by using one of the hotel’s free bikes to explore the neighborhood. Set in Glos, the property is close to attractions like the Okendo Culture Centre.
The hotel’s general period-style atmosphere extends to the rooms with their vintage furniture. Lofty ceilings make the rooms appear extra spacious. Meanwhile, the marble bathrooms provide an elegant space for a luxurious bubble bath. You can also watch your favorite program on the large-screen TV while drinking a cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine. And if you get the munchies, you can always grab a quick snack from the minibar.
Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Sebastian
When the Maria Cristina opened its doors in 1912, its namesake, Spain’s regent at the time, was the first guest. This palatial 5-star hotel sits across the Urumea River, a stellar example of Belle Époque architecture. Like the Ritz hotels in Madrid and Paris, the Maria Cristina was also designed by the celebrated French architect Charles Mewes. The hotel is in the city center, close to the beaches La Concha and La Zurriola. Landmarks like the Victoria Eugenia Theatre and the historic Mercado San Martin are also within walking distance.
The rooms and suites are an entrancing mix of Old World elegance and modern design. Luxuriate in regal touches like the marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes. Depending on the type of room or suite, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the river or the garden. We recommend booking the gorgeous Bette Davis suite, where the First Lady of Film spent some of her last days in 1989. But regardless of the type of room you choose, you’ll enjoy modern comforts like air-conditioning, iPod docks, and satellite TV.
Top-tier dining is one of the reasons why the Maria Cristina ranks among the best hotels in San Sebastian, Spain. In the morning, give in to a tempting selection at the buffet in the grand breakfast room. At the elegant yet cozy hotel cafe, you can savor delicious Asian cuisine. Meanwhile, the sophisticated bar is where you can enjoy afternoon tea, traditional tapas, and signature cocktails. And if you’d like to shed excess calories, head to the state-of-the-art fitness center. It’s open 24/7, so getting a good workout at any time of the day or night isn’t a problem.
Recommended Restaurants / Food Tours in San Sebastian:
- Restaurante Arzak – One of the Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, this family-run establishment offers delicious and perfectly plated Basque dishes.
- San Sebastián Food Tour: Pintxos and Wine – Spend an evening in some of the city’s best pintxos bars. Sample rabbit and spider crab dishes, paired with local txakoli wine.
Recommended Activities In San Sebastian:
- Basque by Bike Small-Group Cycle Tour in San Sebastián – Explore the city’s neighborhoods on two wheels. You’ll cycle through historic streets, stop at gorgeous beaches, and see some Basque modern art.
- Donostia Festibala – Launched in 2012, this is the largest independent music festival in San Sebastian and the province of Gipuzkoa. Held at the Hippodrome, it features outdoor stages where international bands play to huge audiences.