The best hotels in San Sebastián
Villa Favorita is an offshoot of the been-there-for-ever Hotel Londres, but there’s a charm and chic about this 23-room townhouse hotel, housed in one of the last remaining private mansions behind La Concha beach, that rather puts its forebear to shame. Rafael Sitges, the doyen of Spanish interioristas, is a past master at balancing bold glamour with exquisite taste: the sea-facing rooms with their high moulded ceilings, maritime-inflected brass fittings, studded headboards and mirrored bathrooms are beyond classy. Antique furniture makes a strong showing – an antique Dutch grandfather clock stands beside the reception desk, dutifully tolling the hours. Sitges’ regular collaborator Paul Christopher McKenna is behind the gorgeous hand-painted lifts and the trompe l’oeil murals of tropical vegetation. Meanwhile down in the basement, Argentine chef Paulo Airaudo ups the ante with San Sebastián’s restaurant of the moment, the two-Michelin-starred Amelia. ‘Favorita’ may not have been the Villa’s original name, but it’s coming to seem deeply appropriate.
Price: double rooms from £200
Igeldo, the out-of-town settlement somewhere between suburb and bucolic hilltop village, is best known in San Sebastián for three very different things: its funicular railway, the baby peas grown on its allotments, and Pedro Subijana’s Akelarre restaurant, one of a trio of storied establishments in the city boasting three Michelin stars. For years Subijana had dreamed of building a small hotel as an adjunct to his restaurant and had been snapping up adjacent plots of land for the purpose (on one of which stood an abandoned discoteca). The result, unveiled in 2017, is a cut above the average restaurant with rooms. Attached to the existing building is the modernist structure of the hotel (designed by Marta Urtasun and Pedro Rica of Madrid-based architects Mecanismo) whose low-slung cuboid forms are faced with rough grey slate. Akelarre’s 22 rooms have the studiedly neutral aesthetic of the boutique retreat de nos jours, with oak-lined walls and floor, cool modern furniture (check the butterscotch-coloured leather armchairs), total soundproofing, and plate-glass windows giving onto wide-screen views of sea, sky and verdant farmland. The effect is so restful it’s easy to forget you’re just a 10-minute drive from the bustle of downtown San Sebastián.
Price: double rooms from £475
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